“I have undying admiration for Sol LeWitt the artist, as well as Sol LeWitt the man,” declared composer Steve Reich, during an informal hour-long discussion about building bridges between art and music. Reich and LeWitt were longtime friends and mutual admirers ever since Reich first saw LeWitt’s work on exhibit at NYC’s Jewish Museum back in 1965.
Reich noted that the artists who execute LeWitt’s instructions for his wall drawings – more than 100 of which are on exhibit at MASS MoCA’s mindboggling LeWitt retrospective – are “following directions in the same way that musicians follow notation.”
Following the talk, the Bang On a Can Summer Music Festival played a gallery recital that showcased a quartet of Reich’s compositions, including “Music For Pieces of Wood,” which was performed twice – once with pieces of wood in the Building 5 Gallery and later as a drum duet outdoors.
Reich’s King for a Day experience at MASS MoCA culminated with an all-Reich concert by Bang On a Can in the Hunter Center. The evening concert included “Eight Lines” and David Cossin’s tour de force solo turn on “Piano Phase/Video Phase,” before concluding with Reich’s landmark ’76 composition, “Music for 18 Musicians,” a sprawling, hour-long work featuring the unlikely but thoroughly thrilling blend of instrumentation: four grand pianos, three marimbas, two xylophones, a metallophone, two bass clarinets (doubling on clarinet), a violin, a cello and four female voices.