Steve Reich Talks about his Jewish Music at JMF

Pulitzer Prize-winning Composer Steve Reich Talks about his Jewish Music
(with music examples from the composer’s collection) — a unique interview
by fellow Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lang.

On Sunday, November 8th at 3 PM
at the Center for Jewish History
15th West 16th Street, NYC

The Jewish Music Forum presents a unique interview
with Pulitzer Prize-Winning Composer Steve Reich about his Jewish Music, with
music examples from the composers own collection. Mr. Reich will be
interview by fellow Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, David Lang.
The Jewish Music Forum is free to the public. Reservations for the Steve
Reich Talk will be taken on a first-come first-served basis. Call

Steve Reich was recently called “our greatest living composer” (The New
York Times
), “America’s greatest living composer.” (The Village VOICE), “
…the most original musical thinker of our time” (The New Yorker) and “…
among the great composers of the century” (The New York Times). “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,” states The
(London). Steve Reich, a traditional Jew, has composed a
considerable body of important Jewish works, both on Hebrew texts and music with
Jewish themes.

After his formal training, at Cornell, Juilliard and with Luciano Berio at
Mills College, Reich not only studied drumming at the Institute for
African Studies at the University of Ghana in Accra, and Balinese Gamelan, Semar
Pegulingan and Gamelan Gambang, but also studied the traditional forms of
cantillation (chanting) of the Hebrew Scriptures in New York and Jerusalem.
Steve Reich is a traditional Jew. Among his compositions are a number of
Jewish-based works, including his compelling 1981 settings of Hebrew Psalm
texts, Tehillim.

Mr. Reich’s 1988 piece, Different Trains, marked a new compositional
method, in which speech recordings generate the musical material for musical
instruments. The New York Times hailed Different Trains as “a work of such
astonishing originality that break through seems the only possible
description….possesses an absolutely harrowing emotional impact.” The piece,
recorded by the Kronos Quartet, received a 1990 Grammy Award for “Best
Contemporary Composition.”

The Cave, Steve Reich and Beryl Korot’s music theater video piece
exploring the Biblical story of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac, was
hailed by Time Magazine as “a fascinating glimpse of what opera might be like
in the 21st century.” Of the Chicago premiere, John von Rhein of The Chicago
Tribune wrote, “The techniques embraced by this work have the potential to
enrich opera as living art a thousandfold….The Cave impresses,
ultimately, as a powerful and imaginative work of high-tech music theater that
brings the troubled present into resonant dialogue with the ancient past, and
invites all of us to consider anew our shared cultural heritage.”

In addition to receiving the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Music, Mr. Reich was
awarded The Polar Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of music in May
2007. The prize was presented by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.
The Swedish Academy said: “…Steve Reich has transferred questions of
faith, society and philosophy into a hypnotic sounding music that has inspired
musicians and composers of all genres.” In 2006, the same year Mr. Reich’s
70th Birthday was celebrated by performing organizations around the world
with festivals and special concerts. Steve. Reich won the Preamium Imperial
Award in Music, an important international award given by Crown Prince
Hitachi in Tokyo in areas of the arts not covered by the Nobel Prize.

The Jewish Music Forum, is a project of the American Society for Jewish
Music, with additional support from the American Jewish Historical Society.

The American Society for Jewish Music (ASJM) serves as a broad canopy for
all who are interested in Jewish music. Its members include cantors,
composers, educators, musicologists, ethnologists, historians, performers and
interested lay people – as well as libraries, universities, synagogues and
other institutions. The Society sponsors a number of important programs and
projects which provide greater access to Jewish music. In addition, the
Society produces conferences, seminars, workshops and master classes at which
scholars, students and others may benefit from the musical expertise of the
Society’s members.

With offices at the Center for Jewish History in New York City, as an
affiliate of the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Jewish
Historical Society has established and maintains links similar institutions in
Jewish communities throughout the world, and has developed strong ties with
students and faculty members at American universities and seminaries. The
American Society for Jewish Music is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization
funded through membership dues, grants and corporate and individual

The American Society for Jewish Music (ASJM), which recently celebrated
its 100th Anniversary can trace its roots back to several earlier Jewish
Music Societies and associations, first in Europe and then in America. Among
the European models were the Kinnor Zion Society (1902-08) in St. Petersburg
and the Society for Jewish Folk Music (1902-18), also in St. Petersburg
and elsewhere within the Russian Empire. After the Revolution, members of
these groups published their compositions under the imprint of Juwal,
Publication Society for Jewish Music (later called Jibneh) with offices in Tel
Aviv and Berlin. Predecessors of the ASJM in the United States included
Mailamm (Makhon Eretz Yisraeli L’-Mada’ey ha-Musika) (1932-39), founded by
Miriam Zunser and some émigré members of the early European groups; and the
Jewish Music Forum (1939-63), founded by Abraham Wolf Binder, which in turn
became the Jewish Liturgical Society of America (1963-74). In 1974 the
latter group was reorganized as the American Society for Jewish Music, Inc.,
under the direction of its first President, Albert Weisser.

The American Society for Jewish Music presents and produces a variety of
programs that are presented each season for the general public at the Center
for Jewish History in New York City. Its core programs include live concerts; the Charlie Bernhaut Collection
of Jewish and Cantorial Music; its academic collegiums, the Jewish Music
Forum; its scholarly journal Musica Judaica, and a new online Review section;
a digitized collection of scores from the Society’s St. Petersburg roots;
ASJM Matters, a periodic newsletter distributed on the Internet; a
composition competition to stimulate the composition of new music on Jewish themes;
and three important searchable databases.