A Piano Party for Terry Riley at 80
The Latest Update
recording sessions in Kansas City
Another very late update: In August and then again in December, I spent several days in Kansas City recording all ten pieces from A Piano Party for Terry Riley at 80, along with Terry’s own Two Pieces from 1959, Keyboard Studies, Fandango on the Heaven Ladder, and many other works, for the Irritable Hedgehog label. In this photo, producer David McIntire (also a marvelous composer and saxophonist) is doing the composer/producer pose of pointing at the score, while I seem to be asleep. We are on the stage at UMKC where we had long days and nights of recording. Regina Schaffer and I also finally recorded Terry’s five four-hand pieces which I commissioned years ago. All this music will take up more than three CDs! We hope to release it some time in summer 2016.
Terry Riley in Grand Forks, North Dakota
A very late update: On November 22nd, I had the great pleasure of playing at the North Dakota Museum of Art, a gorgeous contemporary art museum in Grand Forks focused on regional art, work by Great Plains Indians, and pieces by internationally renowned and emerging artists. More than fifty percent of the art is by women; most of it deals with social justice and voices of conscience. The museum’s visionary director is Laurel Reuter. I played many pieces from the Piano Party for Terry Riley at 80, and the audience was preternaturally quiet and engaged. A talented young pianist, Matthew Lorenz, joined me for Pauline Oliveros’ Trilling Piece for Terry (wherever I’ve played it I’ve invited a young student or whoever is turning pages to join me as a duo). Afterwards, several women in their nineties told me how fond they are of Pauline Oliveros, and gave me valuable comments about the new works on the program. Something magical always happens with Sam Adams’ Shade Studies, and a museum intern told me that during that piece, a shaft of sunlight emerged from the window behind me and beamed across the audience. Sorry not to have a photo of that moment!
Roulette this Tuesday!
There was a nice listing in the New York Times this morning:
“Sarah Cahill (Tuesday). Terry Riley, the grandfather guru of American contemporary music, has been basking in the limelight this season as he celebrates his 80th birthday. Here a leading light of the new-music piano scene throws him a “piano party” chock-full of world premieres of works written in his honor by composers including Pauline Oliveros, Evan Ziporyn, Christine Southworth and others. Also on the program is Mr. Riley’s own Keyboard Studies and Fandango on the Heaven Ladder. At 8 p.m., Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, near Third Avenue, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, 917-267-0363, roulette.org. (da Fonseca-Wollheim)”
… I’ve changed the program slightly, so now it begins with the Keyboard Studies and ends with the new version of “Be Kind to One Another,” both by Terry Riley. It’s wonderful that Samuel Carl Adams and Dylan Mattingly will both be there to say a few words about their new pieces.
streaming tonight- Piano Party in Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Tonight at 7:30 here in Eau Claire (that’s 5:30 on the West Coast, 8:30 on the East Coast) I’ll be playing Terry Riley’s Keyboard Studies and the new version of his Be Kind to One Another, along with Evan Ziporyn’s You Are Getting Sleepy, Christine Southworth’s Sparkita and Her Kittens, and Sam Adams’ Shade Studies, along with music by Henry Cowell, Ruth Crawford, and Ingram Marshall. You can tune in to listen at http://www.uwec.edu/LTS/services/media/streaming/gantner.htm. The video will go live around 7:20 local time. See you there!
Piano Party at Roulette on Tuesday, October 13th
It’s always such a pleasure to play on the responsive and eloquent Steinway at Roulette– it’s a wonderful place for listening to concerts, with such a great tradition of supporting new and experimental music of all kinds. Samuel Carl Adams and Dylan Mattingly will be there to introduce their pieces, and I’ll play the New York premieres of Evan Ziporyn’s You Are Getting Sleepy and Christine Southworth’s Sparkita and Her Kittens. Also on the program will be Terry Riley’s Two Pieces from 1958/9– the first time these thorny Schoenbergian pieces have been played since Terry’s own performance in 1960. I hope to see you there!
In C, Too by Elena Ruehr
I had admired Elena Ruehr’s music, but had never met her, so it was a great pleasure to work with her at MIT before the premiere of her In C, Too, commissioned by MIT for their memorable celebration of Terry Riley last April. You might recognize a little riff from In C in the last few measures of this piece.
YEAR by Dylan Mattingly
I’ve been playing Dylan Mattingly’s music since he was at Berkeley High School, and have followed his blossoming career with great interest and delight. He writes that he thinks of Terry Riley as “a watch-god of Northern California’s musical landscape.” This four-movement piece, he says, “is a commemoration of home, in all its places and times. The piece traces Terry Riley’s 80th year from my own vantage point, a shared orbit through the seasons beneath the constellations. YEAR looks not back but up, a set of starmaps from a moving position, from a gently frozen house in Barrytown, NY to the jet-lagged ecstasy of travel and reconciliation (to Athens to Berkeley), and finally back to the Northeast.” YEAR was commissioned by the Ross McKee Foundation.
Sparkita and Her Kittens- Christine Southworth
Christine Southworth wrote an exciting and challenging piece in honor of Terry’s eightieth birthday. In her program note, she explains that Sparkita was a calico cat she met in a hilltop castle town in Croatia in July 2014. Sparkita had five kittens. The basis for Christine’s piece is a Bollywood soundtrack which she compressed into two tracks and edited and sculpted. She says “I chose this process because of Terry’s interest in Indian music… but also I think he would have liked Sparkita and her kittens, and I wanted to create something that reflected their episodic play, naps and daydreams, chasing butterflies and climbing the kiwi tree across the street.” Sparkita and Her Kittens was commissioned by MIT, and I premiered it there in April in the wonderful Terry Riley celebration concert.
Gyan Riley’s week at The Stone
I’m excited to be playing tonight at 8 pm in Gyan Riley’s series at The Stone in New York. I’ll start with the new revised version of Terry Riley’s Be Kind to One Another, and then play Gyan’s Poppy Infinite which he wrote for the “Piano Party” project. He and I will trill all over inside and outside the piano with Pauline Oliveros’ A Trilling Piece for Terry, also part of the “Piano Party,” and then I’ll play two solo guitar pieces by Gyan on the piano. We’ll end with a duo version of Terry Riley’s Keyboard Studies, with Gyan on electric guitar. Please join us if you can!
Evan Ziporyn’s “You Are Getting Sleepy”
Evan Ziporyn produced a fantastic celebration for Terry Riley’s eightieth birthday at MIT in April, with several premieres, and gamelan and saxophones and Terry jamming with Eviyan, and the whole evening was transcendent. I played several of the new “Piano Party” commissioned works, including the premiere of Evan’s “You Are Getting Sleepy.” Here is a performance from Old First Concerts in San Francisco, from June 19th.
Samuel Carl Adams’ “Shade Studies” at Old First Concerts
I’ve gotten to play Sam’s “Shade Studies” around the country now, and it’s a very powerful piece. I played it in June at a small old church in Maui, as part of Ebb & Flow, with the church doors open to the Pacific Ocean, and listeners told me afterwards that the delicate sounds of “Shade Studies” intermingled with the sounds of the crashing waves and the chirping of crickets. Here is a video of me playing “Shade Studies” in the wonderful Old First Concerts series in San Francisco on June 19th.
Piano Party at Old First Concerts on June 19th
It’s exciting to be getting ready to perform Terry Riley’s music alongside nine of the new commissioned pieces at Old First Concerts on Friday, June 19th at 8 pm. Here’s a link:
On the program: Terry Riley’s Keyboard Studies, Fandango on the Heaven Ladder, and The Philosopher’s Hand; Pauline Oliveros’ A Trilling Piece for Terry, Danny Clay’s Circle Songs, Dylan Mattingly’s YEAR, Samuel Carl Adams’ Shade Studies, Evan Ziporyn’s You Are Getting Sleepy, Gyan Riley’s Poppy Infinite, Christine Southworth’s Sparkita and Her Kittens, and Elena Ruehr’s In C Too.
Huge thanks to New Music USA! And also to the Thendara Foundation, the Ross McKee Foundation, Russ Irwin, Richard Walker, and New Music Bay Area!
MIT Sounding: Terry Riley 80th birthday concert
As part of MIT’s Soundings series, Evan Ziporyn put together a fantastic evening on April 18th in honor of Terry Riley’s eightieth birthday, starting with a group of young saxophonists playing a version of Terry’s 1969 Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band. Terry improvised magnificently with Eviyan (Evan, Gyan Riley, and Iva Bittova), and joined Gamelan Galak Tika for a riveting performance of his White Space Conflict. I played several pieces from the Piano Party project, including four premieres– Christine Southworth’s Sparkita and Her Kittens, Evan Ziporyn’s You Are Getting Sleepy, Elena Ruehr’s In C Too, and Keeril Makan’s Before C, along with Gyan Riley’s Poppy Infinite and Pauline Oliveros’ A Trilling Piece for Terry. I love playing Pauline’s Trilling Piece as a duet, and have now performed it with Danny Clay, with Gyan Riley, and with Juraj Kojs. At the MIT concert, a talented young pianist named Danny Manesh was turning pages, so I invited him to perform Pauline’s Trilling Piece with me. Here we are at the piano, in a picture taken by Christine Southworth from the balcony.
playing Samuel Carl Adams’ “Shade Studies” at SoundBox
I found this photo on Facebook and got in touch with the photographer, Charles Redding. He was at the April SoundBox performances and took this picture of me playing Sam Adams’ Shade Studies. It’s a very quiet piece, and the audience was preternaturally quiet– a magical experience.
Terry Riley and Samuel Carl Adams at SoundBox
In both March and April, I got to play at the San Francisco Symphony’s new club-like performance space called SoundBox, equipped with a Constellation system from Meyer Sound and a beautiful Steinway. In March I played Terry Riley’s 1964 Keyboard Studies and his 1994 Fandango on the Heaven Ladder (invited by Nat Stookey, who was curator of that program) and in April, Samuel Carl Adams invited me to perform his gorgeous new piece Shade Studies, commissioned by Russ Irwin for my Piano Party for Terry Riley at 80 project. The March SoundBox performance was featured on PBS’ Newshour. The clip begins with my playing Terry’s Keyboard Studies and there’s a bit of video of me playing Keyboard Studies about two thirds of the way in. I’m so grateful to have been part of the first season of SoundBox.
holding hands at New Music Gathering
I’m not sure if it was Sam or Danny who said “Let’s all hold hands” once we were onstage, but it was very sweet. Thanks to James Parr for the photo!
at New Music Gathering, January 16th, 2015
It was scary to play music by Terry Riley when he was in the audience, but that’s part of the adventure of working with living composers. Here we are with Danny Clay. A million thank yous to New Music USA for supporting this project!
East Coast premiere of five new works
The second performance of A Piano Party for Terry Riley at 80 was at Le Poisson Rouge in New York on January 29th, as part of their (New)Classical series. I got to work with Gyan Riley and Dylan Mattingly and they both came to the concert. Artur Schnabel’s granddaughter Ann Mottier and her husband Francois Mottier were there too– they drove from Connecticut for the concert, and especially liked Terry Riley’s Keyboard Studies. Gyan joined me for Pauline Oliveros’ A Trilling Piece for Terry. WQXR did a webcast of the concert, for which I’m extremely grateful. Here is the link to the audio of the concert…
premiere of five new compositions at New Music Gathering
The first performance of A Piano Party for Terry Riley at 80 was at the inaugural New Music Gathering at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on January 16th. I was very proud to be part of this fantastic three-day gathering! I premiered new works by Pauline Oliveros (in collaboration with Danny Clay), Samuel Carl Adams, Gyan Riley, Danny Clay, and Dylan Mattingly, and also played Terry Riley’s Keyboard Studies and his The Philosopher’s Hand. It was especially wonderful that Terry and his wife Ann could be at the concert.
2015 is the eightieth birthday year of composer-pianist Terry Riley, who has had a profound influence on generations of composers and musicians. As a master pianist himself, he writes virtuoso pieces which encompass his wide-ranging musical pursuits, from classical music to blues to ragtime, from Indian raga to jazz. This 80th birthday milestone deserves a huge celebration, and since Riley’s primary instrument is piano, A Piano Party for Terry Riley at 80 will honor his enduring impact with the creation of nine new solo piano pieces by a group of composers, ranging in age from 23 to 82, who have been inspired by him.
Samuel Carl Adams, Danny Clay, Keeril Makan, Dylan Mattingly, Pauline Oliveros, Gyan Riley, Elena Ruehr, Christine Southworth, and Evan Ziporyn are the composers for this project (Ruehr, Makan, and Southworth are being commissioned by MIT to write new works for this Piano Party). Sarah will also premiere a new piece by Michael Harrison, dedicated to Terry Riley. In concerts across the country during 2015 and 2016, Sarah will perform these new compositions along with Terry Riley’s own piano music, ranging from his 1963 Keyboard Studies to his most recent work, culminating in a recording of the entire project in December of 2016.
While the nine new compositions are being written for a specific occasion (Terry Riley’s 80th birthday year), they will have long and fruitful lives into the future, and many if not all will enter the piano repertoire. Among the pieces Sarah has commissioned in the past for a particular project include Julia Wolfe’s Compassion, Terry Riley’s Cinco de Mayo, and Eve Beglarian’s Fireside, which have all been performed by other pianists and are included in a recent book of contemporary piano repertoire.
Sarah Cahill has worked closely with Terry Riley since 1997, when she commissioned his four-hand piece Cinco de Mayo for an all-piano festival at Cal Performances celebrating Henry Cowell’s hundredth birthday. She commissioned four more four-hand pieces from Riley, toured with him in Edinburgh and Glasgow, performed in his 70th birthday concert at Royce Hall at UCLA, and commissioned a solo piece, Be Kind to One Another, which NPR listed on its 100 Best Songs of 2013, and MSNBC included on its Top Ten Political Songs of 2013.
Sarah will start premiering these new compositions in January with a New Music Gathering at the San Francisco Conservatory, and continue to introduce the new commissions in February and March.
scheduled performances for new commissioned works:
New Music Gathering, San Francisco Conservatory of Music- January 2015
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts- April 18, 2015 (Sarah performs with Terry Riley, Eviyan, Gamelan Galak Tika)
Acoustica 21 series in Miami, Florida- May 23, 2015
San Francisco International Arts Festival- June 6, 2015
Old First Concerts series, Old First Church, San Francisco- June 26, 2015
… other performances currently being scheduled
recording projected for December 2016
Pauline Oliveros writes,:”’Quintuplets Play Pen: For Ruth Crawford’ was composed in 2001 especially for Sarah Cahill after listening to her recording of pieces by Ruth Crawford Seeger. The piece was conceived mathematically using a 10 X 10 matrix of choices (- = half step or rest and + = whole step or play). The patterns derived remind me of Crawford’s music-both her early work and her work with folk music.” This is one of a group of pieces Sarah commissioned in 2001 in honor of Ruth Crawford Seeger’s hundredth birthday.
Terry Riley writes: “As with many other of my piano works, Be Kind to One Another began as a late night improvisation…It soon became a hit with my then very young twin grandchildren, who always wanted me to play it for them as they snuggled into bed at night. When Sarah Cahill told me about her ‘Sweeter Music’ project, I decided to make a through composed concert version, somewhat more virtuosic and grander than the original improv. The title comes from Alice Walker, who said, after 9/11, ‘We must learn to be kind to one another now.'”
“Pondok” is an Indonesian term for “guesthouse” or “hut,” such as the tiny bamboo structure I lived in during my first stay in Bali in 1981. Each of the four movements is based on a particular aspect of Balinese music; these musical kernels are then taken in their own directions, which may or may not remind the listener of their source. “Gebyog,” the female rice pounding music of West Bali, explores the relationship between the postures of the players and the music they produce. Pondok was written for Sarah Cahill, to whom it is dedicated.
Start and End Dates
01/16/2015 — 12/31/2016