Territory: UK & Ireland
Label: Columbia Records
Agent: Peter O’Sullivan
California Composer Terry Riley launched what is now known as the Minimalist movement with his revolutionary classic In C in 1964. This seminal work Provided a new concept in musical form based on interlocking repetitive patterns. It’s impact was to change the course of 20th Century music and it’s influence has been heard in the works of prominent composers such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Adams and in the music of Rock Groups such as The Who, The Soft Machine, Tangerine Dream, Curved Air and many others. Terry’s hypnotic, multi-layered, polymetric, brightly orchestrated eastern flavored improvisations and compositions set the stage for the prevailing interest in a new tonality.
While working on a masters degree at UC Berkeley in 1960, he met La Monte Young, whose radical approach to time made a big impact and the two made a life long association.
During this time Riley and Young worked out many of their seminal ideas while working with influential dancer Anna Halprin.
During a sojourn to Europe 1962-64 he collaborated with members of the Fluxus group, playwright Ken Dewey and trumpeter Chet Baker and was involved in street theater and happenings.
In 1965 he move to New York and joined La Monte Young’s Theater of Eternal Music.
1967 was the year of his first all night concert at the Philadelphia College of Art and he began a collaboration with visual artist Robert Benson resulting in more all night concerts.
Recordings of In C, A Rainbow in Curved Air, Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band and the Church of Anthrax were all issued by CBS Masterworks in 1968-69.
In 1970, Terry became a disciple of the revered North Indian Raga Vocalist, Pandit Pran Nath and made the first of his numerous trips to India to study with the Master. He appeared frequently in concert with the legendary singer as tampura, tabla and vocal accompanist over the next 26 years until Pran Naths passing in 1996. He has co-directed along with Sufi Murshid, Shabda Kahn of the Chisti Sabri India music study tours 1993-2000.
Terry regularly appears in concerts of Indian Classical Music and conducts raga singing seminars.
While teaching at Mills College in Oakland in the 1970’s he met David Harrington, founder and leader of the Kronos Quartet and began the long association that has so far produced 13 string quartets, a quintet, Crows Rosary and a concerto for string quartet, The Sands (1990), which was the Salzburg Festival’s first new music commission and SUN RINGS (2003), the 2 hour multi media piece for choir, visuals and Space sounds, commissioned by NASA.
The Cusp of Magic (2004) another quintet for Kronos features Wu Man, pipa, and was released on Nonesuch records in 2007.
Cadenza on the Night Plain was selected by both Time and Newsweek as one of the 10 best Classical albums of the year.
The epic 5 quartet cycle, Salome Dances for Peace was selected as the #1 Classical album album of the year by USA Today and was nominated for a Grammy.
The orchestral piece Jade Palace was commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the Centennial celebration 1990/91. It was premiered there by Leonard Slatkin and the Saint Louis Symphony.
June Buddha’s, for Chorus and Orchestra, based on Jack Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues was commissioned by the Koussevitsky foundation in 1991.
Some of the performers who have commissioned and/or played his works:
Kronos Quartet, The Rova Saxophone Quartet, the ARTE Quartet, Array Music, Zeitgeist, the Steven Scott Bowed Piano Ensemble, John Zorn, Sarah Cahill, The California E.A.R. Unit, guitarist David Tanenbaum, drummer George Marsh, bassist Bill Douglass, the Assad brothers. Cello Octet Conjunto Ibérico, the Crash Ensemble, Abel Steinberg-Winant Trio, Pianist Werner Bartschi, Gloria Cheng, the Calder Quartet, the Arditti Quartet and the Amati Quartet, Alter Ego, Sounds Bazaar, Paul Dresher, singer Amelia Cuni, The Bang on a Can All Stars and guitarist Gyan Riley.
From 1989 to1993 he formed the ensemble Khayal. He subsequently formed The Allstars and the Vigil Band. He regularly performs solo piano concerts of his works from the past 30 years. He also appears in duo concerts with Indian sitarist Krishna Bhatt, saxophonist George Brooks, his son, guitarist Gyan Riley and with virtuoso Italian bassist, Stefano Scodanibbio.
In 1992, he formed the small theater company, The Travelling-Avantt-Gaard, comprised of John Deaderick, actor and libretto, Mikail Graham, sound, Sally Davis, singer, dancer and mime, Frank Ragsdale, video and Karen Ezekiel, stage setting. They performed the chamber opera, The Saint Adolf Ring, based on the divinely mad drawings, poetry, writings and mathematical calculations of Adolf Woelfli, an early 20th century Swiss Artist who suffered from schizophrenia and created his entire output over a 35 year span while confined at the Waldau clinic for the insane in Bern Switzerland.
In 1999 he was commissioned by the Norwich Festival to compose a new work, WHAT THE RIVER SAID, which toured Britain with the UK based group, Sounds Bazaar featuring the great drupad vocalist Amelia Cuni. Then followed a commission from the Kanagawa Foundation in Yokohama to create an evening length work for solo piano in micro tonal tuning. THE DREAM, which received simultaneous premiers in Rome and in Yokohama performed by the composer.
The new millennium began with a tour of the All Stars which included George Brooks, saxophones, Tracy Silverman, Violin and 6 string Viola , Gyan Riley, guitar and Stefano Scodanibbio, string bass.
They launched the first New Sounds Live concert of the 21st Century at Merkin Hall.
In May of 2000, Terry made his first tour of Russia with solo piano concerts at the Sergei Kuryokin Festival in Saint Petersburg and at the Moscow Conservatory and the Dom, a privately run contemporary music club. The review of these concerts in Izvestia proclaimed “Terry Riley to be the greatest composer pianist since Prokofieff.”
BANANA HUMBERTO 2000, a piano concerto, was written for and performed many times by the composer with the Paul Dresher Ensemble and released in 2007 on the Sri Moonshine label.
Music for a new staging of Michael McClure’s play, Josephine the Mouse Singer was written for a run in February 2001 at SanFrancisco’s SoMart theater.
In 2003 his plans for the new TIME LAG ACCUMULATOR were realized and constructed for the Festival of Lille. This 9 room mirrored structure with multi time delays was modeled on the original TIME LAG ACCUMULATOR assembled in 1968 for the Magic Theatre Show at the Nelson Atkins Gallery in Kansas City. The new TLA will reside at the museum of Contemporary Art in Lyon France.
In 2004 Terry and Michael released their first collaborative album, I LIKE YOUR EYES LIBERTY.
BRUCE’S TRAVELING MACHINE (2005), a solo cello piece commissioned by legendary Artist Bruce Connor, will be premiered by former Kronos Quartet cellist, Jean Jeanrenaud.
The Heaven Ladder, book 6 (2006) a set of five pieces for piano 4 hands was commissioned by Sarah Cahill and premiered by Sarah Cahill and Joseph Kubera.
Giant-Hairy Nude-Warriors Racing Down the Slopes of Battle (2006), a 3 movement work for large chamber ensemble, was premiered in Ireland at the Drogheda Festival’s Riley retrospective.
SolTierraLuna 2007 was commissioned jointly by the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra and the New Century Chamber Orchestra of San Francisco and had it’s Premier on March 30.2008 with the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra. It is a triple concerto featuring guitarists Gyan Riley and David Tanenbaum and violinist Krista Feeney. Maestro Ignat Solzhenitsen conducted the orchestra.
Terry has scored 3 feature films and has made music for numerous short films including those of Bruce Conner.
Terry is currently at work on a set of 24 pieces for guitar and guitar ensemble called The Book of Abbeyozzud. Many of these pieces can be found on the New Albion CD, The Book of Abbeyozzud.
THE UNIVERSAL BRIDGE, for solo pipe organ had it’s premiere at Walt Disney Hall, May 25th 2008.
Recent works include, SolTierraLuna for two guitars, violin and Orchestra, premiered in Philadelphia in March 08 and The Transylvanian Horn Courtship written for Stroh instruments premiered at Notre Dame in March of 09. Terry played his first pipe organ concert to a sold out audience at Disney Hall in May of 08, introducing The Universal Bridge, a work especially commissioned for that evening. He christened the gigantic Disney Hall pipe organ “Hurricane Mama.”
“one of the 1000 makers of the 20th Century”
The Sunday Times
“a pioneer of minimalism, a godfather of sampling and ambient house”