As far as guest lecturers go, Steve Reich, a legend of contemporary composition, and “The greatest living composer of our time” (New York Times) is up there with the best of them.
Reich, who, from the late 1960s, was key in the moving classical music into the 21st century, pioneering the use of electronics, minimalist and experimental styles, came to Sussex University to talk about his work WTC 9/11. Written in 2009 in memorial to the World Trade Centre bombings, the piece uses a mixture of a string quartet with samples of documentary audio taken from the day of the World Trade Centre attack and interviews he conducted in the years afterwards.
The talk was conducted in the style of a mock interview between him and Andrew Burke, Chief Executive of the London Sinfonietta. Questions asked gave a fascinating insight into the processes that Steve Reich goes through when composing his music: what he does to treat vocal samples so that they can work with a musical ensemble; how he treats historic events that he composes about, and if he treats more recent events (such as 9/11) any differently to the way in which he approaches ones further in the past.
Steve Reich’s talk comes ahead of a concert at the Dome Theatre in which he, along with the London Sinfonietta, are performing a series of his seminal works, such as Clapping Music and Double Sextet along with a performance of a new work, Radio Rewrite, a new major work which takes its inspiration from the music of Radiohead.