Counterpoint: Steve Reich

Three Compositions by Steve Reich in the Center of Brooklyn

Event Information

Clara Wu Tsai and the Social Justice Fund present an evening of music by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steve Reich on September 18 at 7:30PM at the Main Atrium at Barclays Center. The trio of pieces will be led by three different musical directors, each one representing a separate wing of the city’s contemporary classical and avant-garde music scene. 

The event is free and open to the public.

Inspired by the sounds and harmonies of the city, Counterpoint: Reich will include:

  • “New York Counterpoint” (1985) performed on 11 clarinets, directed by Anthony McGill, the leading soloist and principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic
  • “Cello Counterpoint” (2003) performed on eight cellos, directed by Lester St. Louis, composer and multi-instrumentalist
  • “Electric Counterpoint” (1987) performed on 13 electric guitars, directed by Dither, the new music guitar ensemble

This performance of Counterpoint: Reich is the pilot performance of a new free arts series at Barclays Center, presented by Wu Tsai and the Social Justice Fund. Barclays Center, located at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, is at the heart of Brooklyn and a focal point for many of the borough’s diverse communities. The series is designed to bring world-class art and performance to Brooklyn, building on the borough’s rich cultural history, and reaching new audiences. It also aims to draw on and partner with community organizations to create a platform that will spotlight the work of local artists.

ABOUT THE MUSIC AND THE MUSICIANS: Some of Reich’s fame as a legendary composer was based on his incorporation and manipulation of taped sound recordings in his pieces. Each composition in the “Counterpoint” series features a single live musician playing against layers of tapes of the same instrument. On this evening each of the layers will be played fully live, by live musicians.

“New York Counterpoint” will be led by Anthony McGill, the principal clarinetist for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and the first African-American principal player in the Phil’s history. McGill is the recipient of the 2020 Avery Fisher Prize and has partnered with Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative in examining how America’s history of racial inequality impacts the arts. Other “New York Counterpoint” performers will include members of the New York Philharmonic, the MET Orchestra, The Juilliard Orchestra and more, including Alec Manasse, Adrian Sandi, Alexander Fiterstein, Anton Rist, Carol McGonnell, JuHyun Lee, Kristina Teuschler, Mebrakh Haughton-Johnson, and more.

“Cello Counterpoint” will be led by Lester St. Louis, a Queens-born cellist, composer and curator, who has become a cornerstone of the city’s underground new music and improvised music scenes. St. Louis is a former artist-in-residence at Roulette Intermedium and Pioneer Works and the recipient of the Jerome Fund for New Music award. He has performed with jaimie branch Fly or Die, TAK Ensemble and numerous other groups. Other “Cello Counterpoint” players will include Clérida Eltimé, Dara Blumenthal Bloom, Dara Hankins, Mariel Roberts and Melody Giron.

“Electric Counterpoint” will be led by the New York-based electric guitar quartet Dither, which consists of Taylor Levine, Joshua Lopes, James Moore and Brendon Randall-Myers. Formed in 2007, the group has collaborated with many artists in rock, jazz, electronic, noise and new music communities, and have become famed for their performance of this Reich piece, which they’ve played at Lincoln Center and at London’s The Barbican. This enhanced version of Dither with 13 electric guitars will include Bang On A Can All-Star’s Mark Stewart. 


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