Terry Riley

Sun Dec 19

Community Music Center

3350 SE Francis

Terry Riley's impact on today's musical landscape is near immeasurable. As the only 20th Century composer with a definable mega-hit (1964's In C) the genealogy of Riley's influence can be more clearly traced than most of his modern-classical ilk. In C's basic premise--a series of one-bar melodic fragments to be repeated by each player for as long as they like until they decide to move to the next bar--brought early definition to what would become known as minimalism and, in turn, planted the seeds for the development of electronic music, sampling technology, new age, and the fairly imaginary genres of "kraut" and "post" rock. His hypnotic, interwoven, and ghostly music subverted the intellect and pierced straight through to the sort of trance state rarely touched outside of ancient folk musics, and his structural ideas echo loudly today in everyone from Godspeed You Black Emperor! to Fischerspooner.

In 1970, Riley, along with a gaggle of his harmonium-droning, tape-looping contemporaries (LaMonte Young, Charlemagne Palestine, and Rhys Chatham), became a student of Indian classical vocalist and master teacher Pandit Pran Nath and was forever reoriented in his directional development. Although Palestine often boasted of being the most golden-throated of the Pran Nath disciples, Riley has had the longest and deepest dedication to approaching full mastery of the style and has most fully and consistently reintegrated it into his own composition; George Harrison may have brought Indian classical music to the West first and with more public aplomb, but Riley was in it for the long haul.

Now entering his seventh decade, Riley presents a one-off concert that draws a line across his last four decades--revealing some of the symmetry of intent that he's been dealing with in his life and music. Along with a set of Indian vocal music, at this concert Riley will premier a new piece called "Blessings, Omens, Spells, & Mojos"--a direct reaction to the devastating effect the war in Iraq has had on human life and a ritualistic late-night vigil for peace.