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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 6, 2004

Terry Riley Joins Bang On A Can All-Stars For 'Pop Art'

Fresh from his "Sun Rings" triumph with the Kronos Quartet last season, composer Terry Riley will return to Hancher Auditorium as the special guest of the Bang on a Can All-Stars for a performance of his landmark composition "In C" in "Pop Art: Music of the '60s" at 8 p.m. Feb. 28.

Part classical ensemble, part rock band, part jazz band, the Bang on a Can All-Stars are a collection of adventurous virtuosos dedicated to the music of today and recent times in all its diversity and cross-fertilization. David Lang, an alumnus of the University of Iowa School of Music, is co-founder of the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Bang on a Can Festival.

Concert ticket holdera may attend a free pre-performance discussion with David Lang at 7 p.m. in the Hancher greenroom.

In "Pop Art," the Bang on a Can All-Stars will celebrate the seminal role of the 1960s in shaping today's art and popular music. The first half of the program will be devoted to music by Conlon Nancarrow and Philip Glass, along with Lang's tribute to the Velvet Underground.

Riley will arrive in the second half for a performance of "In C," the influential 1964 work that introduced the trancelike musical tapestry and modular compositional style that came to be known as "minimalism."

With its interlocking cells, insistent rhythms and sustained energy -- based in part on Riley's interest in eastern musical traditions -- "In C" had a profound impact on contemporary classical composers including Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Adams. But it also affected the pop/rock world through the work of Brian Eno, John Cale, the Who, King Crimson, Tangerine Dream and other artists, and can be heard today in music ranging from Techno to Ambient to House to New Age to Post-Rock to Totalism.

Conlon Nancarrow, an eccentric American composer and political radical who lived most of his career in Mexico, was virtually unknown to American audiences during his lifetime. One reason, beyond his self-imposed exile and isolation, was that he composed by punching piano-player rolls, creating mechanically-produced music of such pace, intensity and rhythmic complexity that it was considered -- until recent years -- unplayable in any concert-friendly transcription.

Evan Ziporyn, who arranged "Four Studies" for this concert, wrote, "For decades, Nancarrow composed only for player pianos, working alone and by hand, spending months punching holes in rolls to produce 40-plus compact, revolutionary 'Studies,' which collectively have redefined our notions of time and meter in music. . . .

"The source of his ideas is American popular music. Nancarrow heard something in boogie-woogie, in swing, in the blues: not just the implicit polyrhythms of all African American music but the possibility of simultaneous rhythmic identities coexisting in a single piece. Like Stravinsky, like Bartok, like Andriessen, Nancarrow abstracted these ideas structurally and retained their source on the surface; and as in all these cases, both the abstract ideas and their connection to their popular roots are necessary.

"These arrangements are attempts to retain the visceral intensity of the music, to retain the juxtaposition of a happy, human lyricism with a machine-made, maniacal energy."

Of Philip Glass, Michael McDonagh wrote in High Performance, "No musician since Stravinsky has had so great an impact on the sound of music of his own time." Combining eastern concepts with the amplification of rock, he has produced a powerful, hypnotic music based on transparent harmonies, repetition and huge volumes of sound.

Over three decades of diversification, he has written music for his own Philip Glass Ensemble, massive operas in collaboration with director Robert Wilson, concert music ranging from string quartets to symphonies, music for dance productions, and film scores including the Oscar-nominated "Kundun" and the Golden Globe-winning music for "The Truman Show."

The Bang on a Can All-Stars will perform his "Music in Fifths" from 1969. Written entirely in parallel fifths, the piece has been interpreted as a teasing violation of the fundamentals of traditional counterpoint.

The Velvet Underground -- featuring now-legendary rock musicians Lou Reed and John Cale -- became emblematic of the '60s crossover between the rock and art worlds through their association with Andy Warhol.

"I was very affected by the first Velvet Underground record," David Lang told the Rogovoy Report. "As someone interested in classical music also listening to pop, most of what I heard was about love, dancing, boys and girls. And then in classical music there were all these noble thoughts.

"But then, in high school, in the Velvet Underground, I heard this very dangerous, scary music about drugs, crime, dirt, sex and New York, and all these things that were left out of classical music. It had a big effect on me."

In "Songs for Lou Reed," Lang completely re-composed music for Reed's lyrics from the first Velvet Underground recording. The Feb. 28 concert will feature "Sunday Morning" and "Heroin" from that set.

This event is supported by the Iowa House Hotel, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets for the Bang on a Can All-Stars with Terry Riley are $25/22/20; UI student $20/12; senior citizen $20/17.60/16; youth $12.50/11/10.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to 319-353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website: http://www.uiowa.edu/hancher.

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail: hancher-box-office@uiowa.edu.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, ur-acr@uiowa.edu.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073, winston-barclay@uiowa.edu

PHOTOS are available at http://www.uiowa.edu/hancher/media.html