Pulitzer Prize winning Steve Reich has always championed not only aspects of Western Classical music, but the structures, harmonies, and rhythms of non-Western and American vernacular music.
In his latest composition 2x5 Reich breaks new ground in such musical and cultural exploration by reaching into the rock genre. Scored for two sets of five instruments of standard rock band set-up (hence “2x5”), this 21-minute piece calls for a total of ten musicians: four electric guitars, two pianos, two bass guitars, and two drum sets. Performers can either play the piece all-live with ten musicians or with five live musicians against a pre-recorded tape.
2x5 was premiered on the opening night of the Manchester International Festival (with five live musicians and pre-recorded tape) on July 2, 2009 by Bang on a Can— an organization celebrated for its commitment to the cross-pollination of musical genres and performance practices. This premiere was no exception: featuring a veritable who’s who of New York’s downtown music scene, BOAC joined forces with German electro-pop pioneers Kraftwerk in a multimedia extravaganza at Manchester’s Velodrome. Described by Telegraph.co.uk as “two of music’s most pioneering acts” with “groundbreaking, futuristic ideas,” Reich and Kraftwerk yet again lived up to their reputation in this sold out genre-defying presentation complete with Olympic cyclists and 3D glasses.
When will Reich’s “rock band” 2x5 come to the U.S.? A premiere has yet to be arranged but America certainly has its fair share of rockers ready to step up to the plate. In the meantime, check out exclusive rehearsal footage featuring BOAC with Reich himself here.