Hello Terry Riley at the Barbican
In Hello Terry Riley at the Barbican, the influence of Terry Riley on contemporary music is explored and celebrated in honour of his 80th birthday. James Holden takes to the stage to perform beside Luke Abbott, along with Young Turks producer Koreless; the musicians use synthesisers, percussion and customised sequencers in honour of the composer.
Abbott explains the significance of Riley’s influence to him, personally: “Terry’s music exists in my mind as an endlessly folding pattern. Listening to his music gives me a reassuring sense of stasis, as if being held by the sound. But there is also a great sense of adventure in his music, it puts you in the moment and energises you.”
On the same subject, Holden says: “In retrospect, all my music has owed some debt to Terry Riley, even before I knew who he was. Of all the minimalists his approach to stasis through repetition most resonated with me. But where he used tape loops and then rules-based composition to create incomprehensible detail within stasis, I use chaos theory and numerical musical systems towards the same end.”
The evening is separated into three sections, with each musician taking the stage alone, giving the audience the sensation of engaging in three individual performances. First to play is Abbot with 555 Hertz, incidentally also the frequency used to tune his equipment. The droning piece is filled with ecstatic highs and lows, sweeping the listeners away to a futuristic, cyborg-filled future with each note. Next on stage is Koreless with a beautiful, ambient song, accompanied by a string section. Each light correlates to one artist, resulting in an exciting and uplifting experience. From the standing ovation given, it’s apparent that this act really moves the audience. The final song is performed by James Holden, joined by Camilo Tirado on tabla, a type of indian percussion instrument. In the spirit of Riley, Holden follows the tempo of Tirado’s tabla with his synthesiser to create an exciting, arpeggio-saturated piece.
The evening is exciting, letting new audiences explore a different kind of music and bringing familiar followers of Riley’s brilliance to once again experience the moving power of a synthesiser.
Amaliah Sara Marmon-Halm
For further information about Hello Terry Riley and future events at the Barbican visit here.
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