Meeting Steve Reich and announcing my new band!

On Tuesday 16th February, The Colin Currie Group with Synergy Vocals gave their first official concert at London’s South Bank Centre. The event was part of the International Chamber Music Series presented there and as such it was most refreshing and rewarding to be performing alongside the great string quartets and chamber musicians of our day. The group itself has been assembled, and now given an official name, as a statement of intent by its members to perform the music of Steve Reich at the highest level. Originally put together by me to perform a 70th birthday concert for the composer at the BBC Proms in 2006, I decided that the whole thing was just way too much fun and far too exciting to only do as a one-off. So, in discussion with my management at Intermusica, we have now pushed the project on to become a touring ensemble that will play various Reich works, but very often centred around the masterpiece from 1971 “Drumming”. On this occasion in London, we were thrilled to have Steve Reich present, and to offer him the (as it turned out) rare chance for him to hear the work from the audience’s perspective as he usually is up on stage himself taking part, playing with his own musicians. I’ll never forget his ecstatic reaction to our version and his generosity in going round each individual on stage during  the ovation to thank them in person – just a fantastic moment for us all.

In Birmingham’s Town Hall on the 20th, we repeated “Drumming” and also added in “Clapping Music”, “Nagoya Marimbas” and the glorious “Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ”. The ensemble sounded brilliant – it is an amazing line-up of players and an honour for me to have such fantastic percussion colleagues who are so dedicated and enthusiastic. We also tend to have rather a good time, with the just the right amount of jocularity – Sam Walton is always at the ready with that groan-worthy pun…and we give him plenty of material to work with!

As for Steve Reich and the chance to work on his repertoire, this really is a dream come true for me. I adore his music and have endless admiration for his unique creativity. His sense of timbre and harmony unite for something that is out of this world, and to perform “Drumming” especially really taps into something very deep and at the root of what it is to be a percussionist. We look forward to many more outings playing this and more of his works, truly one of the most special opportunities one can have as a performer of new music.

Thanks to everyone who made this launch so memorable – there are and will be many more concerts to follow as a result!

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