Tag this
Help others find this by tagging it.
With the recent announcement of a new and AWESOME partnership between Innova recordings and Naxos of America I thought what better way to celebrate this historic event than to highlight our first NEW RELEASE with them (also AWESOME). I contacted and interviewed the projects master mind Mr. Bill Ryan who also happens to be the conductor / music director of The Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble.

Bill, with all of the great versions of In C that already exist in recorded form what made you take the piece on? How is your approach different than all the others?
I agree that another version of In C wouldn’t be that interesting, so I decided to spin it a bit. Have the group record the piece as was intended, but then pass out our audio to a diverse collection of re-mixers to see what they would come up with. The piece has famously influenced many generations of musicians, and now these same people could get their hands on material from the actual piece to use as building blocks for their own work. I also can’t think of a more appropriate piece to remix, because in many ways, this piece is remixed by its performers every time it’s played.

Have you had much contact with Terry through the making of this recording and all the remixes? How has the project been received by the composer?
Four members of the ensemble and I met Terry in April 2009, during the In C 45th Anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall. We were invited to participate by the Kronos Quartet, along with dozens of other music luminaries. Because the whole event was all about Terry, I thought bringing up our project wouldn’t be appropriate (but I was dying to tell him!) I held off until everything was finished, then sent him a copy later in the summer. The five days it took for me to hear back from him were some of the most anxious of my life, but when he emailed back that he loved it, everyone involved in the project was just thrilled. Of course I hope others have positive things to say, but pleasing the composer himself will forever be the highlight for me.

What audiences in particular would you like to reach with this project?
Because of the different re-mixers participating, I think the audience potential for the album is limitless. What is most exciting to me is that through the CD, we’ll hopefully get the good word of Terry Riley out to people who might not have otherwise been exposed to him. So, hopefully fans of Kleerup’s Swedish disco pop buy the disc to hear his remix, but also stumble onto David Lang’s slow motion take on the piece, Zoe Keating’s gorgeous acoustic cello remix, or Mason Bates’ trip-hop take, and then are curious enough to check out the original In C as well. I think they’ll hear connections between it and whatever music they’re interested in—further evidence of how remarkable and timeless In C is.

Tell us a bit about the history of yourself and the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble? Your relationship with Innova?
I was hired by GVSU in 2005 to create a new music scene at the school. I teach composition, produce a new music concert series called Free Play, and direct the ensemble, which I founded in 2006. While the group is mostly known for recording a few minimalist classics, we’ve also performed works by composers including Stockhausen, Messiaen, Cage, Rzewski, Tenney, Lang, Mellits and even Radiohead. We also commission and premiere works every year, by both our students and guest composers.

I first worked with Innova in 2004 for a CD release of just my music, Billband. Then we worked together again on the Music for 18 Musicians CD in 2007, and now this release in 2009. I can’t say enough good things about them. They are incredibly personable, professional, and above all else, passionate advocates for their artists. Philip Blackburn and Chris Campbell are the label’s backbone, but there’s a whole team of people behind the scenes that help put their releases together.

You’ll be performing the piece in NYC at Le Poisson Rouge on November 8th, any other performances planned in the US? When? Where?
Not yet, but I’m hopeful that once people see the show there will be some interest from presenters. We’ve got a 90-minute program with live electronics and video, and an incredibly exciting opening act in the Slow Boys, and we want to share it!

What was your process in choosing the re-mixers for this project? Did you have any on your wish-list that didn’t come through?
I had already worked with several of the re-mixers on previous projects. For those I didn’t know, I had been following their music for some time, and others were recommended for me to check out. I’m a huge fan of everyone I asked, so for me this was a great thrill just to be able to assemble a project with all these terrific people involved who I deeply admire. Everyone I asked was incredibly enthusiastic and jumped at the chance to participate. There were a few that had other commitments and were just too busy to accept, but other than that the response was great.

This release of course follows up your wonderful Reich recording of “Music for 18 Musicians”, any idea what the next project will be?
Frankly speaking, two recordings two years apart is pretty exhausting. But, I’ve got another dozen or so projects I’d like to realize—however I’m not sharing until the time is right, and I’ve recovered from this one a bit!

Speaking of the Reich disc can you tell us a bit about the successes you had with that recording? (since it was released before our relationship with Innova).

That project, like the piece itself, was all very organic. It started as simply wanting to learn Music for 18 Musicians so we could get through it without stopping, and then progressed to an excellent performance on our campus, another performance at the Bang On a Can Marathon in New York, and then the recording. This may seem silly to those that didn’t go through the experience with us, but there was something very special about that group and that year. We spent a good portion of our lives preparing, and somehow the sweat, energy and enthusiasm we invested was captured on the recording. The Rest is Noise author Alex Ross took notice early on, and it seemed like everyone else followed his call.
9 years ago | Read Full Story
Tag Content
Click fields to tag this Blog Entry
Tagging makes it easy for you and others to find your content on InstantEncore.
Current tags
No categories set