In Performance: The rhythms of Steve Reich in response to Pat Steir

  • 19 December 2022

On the occasion of ‘Pat Steir. Blue River and Rainbow Waterfalls,’ the artist’s inaugural exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, and first show in New York City since 2017, Sandbox Percussion performed a selection of Steve Reich percussion compositions in response to the works on view.

About Pat Steir
Among the great innovators of contemporary painting, Pat Steir first came to prominence in the late 1970s and early 1980s for her iconographic canvases and immersive wall drawings. By the late 1980s, her inventive approach to painting—the rigorous pouring technique seen in her Waterfall works, in which she harnessed the forces of gravity and gesture to achieve works of astonishing lyricism—attracted substantial critical acclaim. Informed by a deep engagement with art history and Eastern philosophy, and a passion for artistic advocacy in the both the visual and literary realms, Steir’s storied five-decade career ¬¬continues to reach new heights through an intrepid commitment to material exploration and experimentation.

About Steve Reich
Steve Reich has been called ‘the most original musical thinker of our time’ (The New Yorker) and ‘among the great composers of the century’ (The New York Times). Starting in the 1960s, his pieces It’s Gonna Rain, Drumming, Music for 18 Musicians, Tehillim, Different Trains, and many others helped shift the aesthetic center of musical composition worldwide away from extreme complexity and towards rethinking pulsation and tonal attraction in new ways. He continues to influence younger generations of composers and mainstream musicians and artists all over the world.

Double Sextet won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 and Different Trains, Music for 18 Musicians, and an album of his percussion works have all earned GRAMMY Awards. He received the Praemium Imperiale in Tokyo, the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm, the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge award in Madrid, the Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall, and the Gold Medal in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has been named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France, and awarded honorary doctorates by the Royal College of Music in London, the Juilliard School in New York, and the Liszt Academy in Budapest, among others.

One of the most frequently choreographed composers, several noted choreographers have created dances to his music, including Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Jirí Kylián, Jerome Robbins, Justin Peck, Wayne McGregor, Benjamin Millepied, and Christopher Wheeldon.

Reich’s documentary video opera works—The Cave and Three Tales, done in collaboration with video artist Beryl Korot—opened new directions for music theater and have been performed on four continents. His work Quartet, for percussionist Colin Currie, sold out two consecutive concerts at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London shortly after tens of thousands at the Glastonbury Festival heard Jonny Greenwood (of Radiohead) perform Electric Counterpoint, followed by the London Sinfonietta performing his Music for 18 Musicians. ‘There’s just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them,’ The Guardian.

About Sandbox Percussion
Described as ‘exhilarating’ (The New York Times) and ‘utterly mesmerizing’ (The Guardian), GRAMMY®️-nominated ensemble Sandbox Percussion brings out the best in composers through their unwavering dedication to artistry in contemporary chamber music. Brought together by their love of chamber music and the simple joy of playing together, Sandbox Percussion captivates audiences with performances that are both visually and aurally stunning.

Sandbox Percussion’s 2021 album Seven Pillars was nominated for two GRAMMY awards—Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance and Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Sandbox Percussion will perform Seven Pillars over 15 times in the 2022-23 season, with sold-out stops throughout the United States and Europe. In October, Sandbox Percussion performed the work live with the LA Dance Project and choreographer Benjamin Millepied at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

In addition to maintaining an international performance schedule, Sandbox Percussion holds the position of ensemble-in-residence and percussion faculty at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and The New School’s College of Performing Arts, where they have created a curriculum with entrepreneurship and chamber music at its core. In 2016, Sandbox Percussion founded the annual NYU Sandbox Percussion Seminar—a week-long seminar that invites percussion students from around the globe to rehearse and perform today’s leading percussion chamber music repertoire.

Sandbox Percussion endorses Pearl/Adams musical instruments, Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks and mallets, Remo drumheads, and Black Swamp accessories.

Pat Steir. Blue River and Rainbow Waterfalls’ is on view at Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street, through 23 December 2022.