As composer Steve Reich celebrates his 70th birthday, Tom Service travels to New York to talk to Reich and assess how his legacy influences both popular and classical music. DJ Spooky looks at the composer's affect on Urban DJ culture, and, as Reich once earned a living driving a taxi in New York, Service is joined by composer and journalist Kyle Gann on a musical and cultural taxi ride.
In This Programme
No place on Earth has inspired more composers in the 20 th century than New York . From Copland to Bernstein, from John Cage to Elliott Carter, from free jazz to the classical avant-garde, New York was the only place to be as a radical musician.
One of those musicians whose music is indelibly linked with the city is composer Steve Reich . He helped bring about a whole new musical movement, minimalism, in the late 60s, and has gone on to become America 's most influential composer. He celebrates his 70 th birthday at the beginning of next month, and a major festival of his music is taking place at the Barbican Centre in London .
Tom spent the last few days in New York looking at how Reich's music has helped create the sound of the city, and how it continues to shape musical culture there today.
The story of music in New York is a tale of two musical communities: uptown - the world of classical respectability - and downtown, a community of galleries, lofts, and anarchic performance art. It's a split that until recently has been an unbridgeable abyss, but Reich has managed to connect the two.
Tom talks to Reich about his latest projects and hears from a younger generation of composers and musicians about how he's inspired them, including Paul Miller - better known as DJ Spooky . He's somebody who's taking Steve Reich's music on in ways Reich himself couldn't imagine. A turntable and sound artist, his whole approach to music is indebted to Reich, especially his early tape pieces like Come Out and It's Gonna Rain.
Tom also goes on his own journey into the musical cultures of New York . Kyle Gann has been chronicling the uptown downtown musical divide for the Village Voice for the last 20 years. He goes to some of New York 's most important venues including The Kitchen , The Knitting Factory , Carnegie Hall , and The Lincoln Center . There's a new cross fertilisation of uptown and downtown music that may well be heralding a different type of creativity: an era inspired above all by the example of Steve Reich.
Music Matters: Steve Reich at 70. This Sunday at 5.45pm
BBC Radio 3 celebrates Steve Reich's 70 th birthday on Performance on 3 on the 2 nd and 9 th of October.
Details of Phases: The Music of Steve Reich can be found on the Barbican Website
BAM in New York also celebrate with their Next Wave Festival from 3 rd October to 4 th November.