Mort & Terry

Monday, February 11, 2008

Here is a picture of Morton Subotnick and Terry Riley I took backstage at Zankel Hall the other night. Mort & I went to hear the American Composers Orchestra perform Terry’s Remember This O Mind, for string orchestra and Terry’s own singing and synth playing. The only (nice) thing I can say about the evening was that Terry’s piece was a breath a fresh air. It was beautiful in the purest sense of the word. The tuning issues between Terry’s live playing/singing and the orchestra were handled very sensitively.

I’m trying hard to not write about what I thought of the other pieces on the program. I was basically left with this question: if one likes noise, what does one call sound one doesn’t like? Let’s just say I was looking for that word most of the evening. (Although, Uri Caine’s piece was quite fun. Man, can that guy play piano!)

Well, back to M&T. It was great to see these two old friends together. They were each so happy to see each other. I’m sure neither of them thought, back in the early San Francisco Tape Music Center days (the early/mid 1960s), that they would each go on to have such a profound, and different, influence on modern music. Lately, Terry has been gracious enough to tell people that Mort actually commissioned him to write In C. Mort is grateful for the accolade but has said “commission” might be too strong a word, since there was no money involved. But he does remember asking Terry to write a piece for a Tape Center concert, and that piece was In C. Mort has a very funny story about the premiere evening, but I could not do it justice here. Although he does remember it as being “anything but minimalist.”

Here are the two gray-bearded wonders.

2 Grand Masters of Modern Music

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