Friday, October 06, 2006


I went to BAM last evening. Y's friend from Tokyo was visiting, and two other friends, H (artist, from Hiroshima) and DC (art world luminary) came over to Ft. Greene early. It had been DC's birthday a week ago, so we had a little celebration. I was quite tired, and our celebration activities did little to wake me up. Y lives around the corner from BAM, and so we walked over and got our seats. It was a dance performance as part of "Steve Reich@70." Reich turned seventy this year, and there are countless concerts all over the world. I met Steve Reich when I was in college. He came to lecture and I distinctly remember that he was testy and intense. The late Robert Middleton, my harmony teacher and a distinguised composer himself, asked a question--I can't remember it exactly but it was somewhat naive--and Reich got nasty. Later I taught his child, for many years, and saw Steve Reich regularly. He is down to earth, short-tempered, and extremely energetic. I think his music is important. He is by far the most interesting of the so-called "minimalists." Some of his music is stunning. I have no admiration for Phillip Glass's music, which is turgid and dull; John Adams is one giant cliché, but Reich has a great sense of color and form, and his music shimmers and jolts. It is both incredibly subtle and powerful. And you can hear, in his work, that he has worked extremely hard.

Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, the choreographer and dancer from Belgium, presented FASE, a four-movement piece to four seminal pieces by Reich, all from his early period. The dance was beautiful, austere, mesmerizing. I was so tired that the mesmerizing quality became hypnotic and at one point I caught myself as I fell asleep, one of those moments when you feel your head falling and you jolt awake. The second half (or rather, third, since FASE was about one hour long) was a piece by Amir Khan. He danced with two other dancers, one from South Africa and the other from South Korea. They were accompanied by the London Sinfonietta conducted by Alan Pierson. I loved the music, which was scored for four vibraphones, double strings, and two pianos. The dance, which was supposed to be about three worlds interacting (the three dancers being "internationale"), but it seemed thrown together; none of the dancers were particularly interesting, and the musicians surrounding the stage area were more riveting, to me at least. All the dancers danced in a style that seemed a merging of "voguing", break-dancing, and tired old modern-dance moves. The dancers were excellent, though, as were the musicians. Too bad the piece didn't really swing.

Afterward I went directly home. I think I surprised my companions, who were most likely going to have a drink, but I was far too tired and I still had to do my laundry. I love going to BAM, though, much more than I love going to Lincoln Center or even Carnegie Hall.

No comments: