Monday, April 20, 2009

Pulitzer winner premiered here

Steve Reich's Double Sextet, introduced by eighth blackbird on March 26, 2008 at the University of Richmond, has won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for music.

The Pulitzer music jurors cited Reich's composition as "a major work that displays an ability to channel an initial burst of energy into a large-scale musical event, built with masterful control and consistently intriguing to the ear."

In reviewing the first performance, here's how I described the piece: "Reich’s [Double Sextet] opens and closes with emphatic, layered ostinato played off against sighing long notes from strings and winds, which gradually pick up the insistent rhythmic figure. The central section is lyrical, gently rocking like a barcarolle. Nervy syncopation and chorale-like melody rub against each other, as in jazz and blues."

UR was among seven institutions that commissioned Reich to write the Double Sextet for eighth blackbird.

Tim Munro, the flutist of the ’birds, writes on his blog that the group plans to record the Reich in September for Nonesuch Records, with a release anticipated next year:

"Reich is a truly wonderful composer: rigorous, honest, and inspiringly dogged in his pursuit of his ideas, which he has followed through his career in such a way that each piece seems to build on and expand from the knowledge developed in the last," Anne Midgette writes on her blog for The Washington Post. The post links to her reviews of eighth blackbird's Richmond premiere and a subsequent Washington performance of the Double Sextet:

A Steve Reich primer, from NPR: