Steve Reich RadioRewrite with London Sinfonietta

The Critics Views

Guy Dammann in the Guardian

The Standard (Nick Kimberley)

Ivan Hewett in the Telegraph

Peter Culshaw on the Arts Desk

Also on arts desk – Igor Toronyi-Lalic view is here review is here

200% mag review here

Some audience reactions from the Birmingham gig here

and another blogger – Plashing Vole


REICH GIG PREPThe London Sinfonietta’s #RadioRewrite – for me at least – explored the idea of duality.

From Reich himself performing – with London Sinfonietta principal percussionist David Hockings – Clapping Music to the two contrasting Radiohead songs which inspired Radio Rewrite itself; from the onstage ensemble interlocking with a tape of itself in 2×5 or the interweaving , battling identical ensembles of the Pultzer Prize winning Double Sextet.

In many ways though the night was also an example of the problem of a single composer programme. The world premiere – Radio Rewrite felt some what over shadowed by the more familiar (clapping music and electronic counterpoint here brilliantly played by Mats Bergstom) and the simply thrilling Double Sextet with its echoes of Different Trains.

CRTAIN CALLMaybe its too early to pass judgement on the new work. I for one found myself ‘phasing’ in and out of the piece without ever quite entering that soporific state which Reich often lures me into. In a weird way I wanted to hear the piece again (you can – on radio 3 and it’s well worth doing…done it a couple of times now ) – but away from the formality of the concert hall.

That question of connection between ‘the band’ and the audience was the subject of much conversation. We were sat in the choir stalls from where ‘the bubble’ in which a classically minded band appears to play within was more evident than usual. Theatre has a term for this – the fourth wall – which most avant garde performers spend most of the time ignoring – or smashing through.

In the second half in particular no attempt was made to break with concert hall convention. Given the influence of jazz and bepop (where direct non verbal communication between audience and performer is common) on Reich you could see this as curious – but in other ways its not. The ordered control of a Reich piece leaves little room for freedom of expression or individualism. Its that ‘control’ which often sends me into my soporific state!

One audience member in front of us certainly lost connection – he spent most of the second half playing a racing game on his ‘phone. In a weird way the ‘phone imagery fitted several of the faster elements of Double Sextet – leaving me wondering if anyones ever transmitted live images to mobile screens during a gig (surely they must have?) or indeed if Reich would have approved of a mobile game which required players to respond by ‘firing’ on the beat.

Would that devalue the experience – or in this dual screen world provide an additional level of connection. The answer is probably yes to both.

I left the gig feeling both exhilarated and just a tiny bit underwhelmed – as my preview notes (below) suggest I may have just been a little too excited!


curtain callFrom the brutalist glamour of the @southbankcentre s Royal Box* (for Threepenny Opera on Saturday) I’m back there again in the more down to earth cheap seats for @ldn_sinfonietta @stevereich ‘Radio Rewrite’ premiere.

Its been a much talked about gig in the press:-

@AlexPetridis excellent @guardian article is here

The @classicfm interview with Max Richter (@maxrichtermusic) is here

Andrew burke (CEO of London Sinfonietta) chats to Steve Reich about #radiorewrite here:-

BEgvIesCUAIF6UVAnd finally heres the Phil Johnson preview in the Independent – see here

I doubt that London Sinfonietta (or any of its staff) asked in quite as intimate a way as @amandapalmer suggests on her recent TED talk (don’t MAKE people pay for music – LET them pay)

But that hasn’t stopped Radio ReWrite being crowd funded (see their sponsume site here) – mind politicians should note that the £3,300 raised must be a fraction of the commission cost.

Going to be one helluva night.

*aka the house seats!

Clapping Music in festival mode (Reich and Bang On A Can’s Dave Cossins)

And here is where Radio Rewrite started – Jonny Greenwoods interpretation of Electric Counterpoint

And the two Radiohead songs which #radiorewrite was based on – Jigsaw Falling into Place

and Everything in its Right Place


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