One of the events featured on last weekend’s “Where Art Thou” list is a performance by Ensemble Signal, tonight at the Miller Theatre, of music by Steve Reich, an American composer well-known for his work in the genre of minimal music. At first glance, we didn’t think much of this event; most of us aren’t interested in “four suspended microphones swing rhythmically over speakers creating hypnotizing feedback loops” (the medium of one of the pieces being performed tonight, according to the event description).
But then, we noticed something strange: this isn’t the first time the Miller Theatre has hosted a performance of Steve Reich. There was another Reich feature there barely over a month ago, on September 15th. Yes, it’s Reich’s eightieth birthday this year, and yes, ensembles around the world are honoring him, but isn’t two concerts in six weeks a little excessive? We’re not sure what might be motivating this Reich fever, but we have a few theories:
- Someone in the Miller Theatre department really wants Steve Reich to write some new pieces. They’re flattering him by playing everything he’s written, even the weird stuff (especially the weird stuff?) in the hopes that it will inspire him to write a new piece for Columbia. Maybe it will involve recordings of police sirens played on tape as ten of our approximately one hundred theatre groups fight for the death for a full show weekend in Roone.
- Steve Reich is the real donor behind the new Manhattanville campus, and instead of getting a building named after him (because, let’s be real, only Henry Moore would want one of those buildings named after him) he demanded that the Miller Theatre feature his music at least once a month. Columbia is starting to wish they made a similar deal with Eric Whitacre instead.
- Speaking of Moore – the Miller Theatre people are hoping that if they play enough Steve Reich, they can banish his statue from our campus once and for all. They analyzed all possible genres, and decided that to dispel modern art, minimal music was the way to go.
- One night while cleaning the Miller Theatre, a Columbia janitor somehow summoned a demon, and Steve Reich’s music is really popular down there. The demon demands regular Reich concerts – otherwise, he’ll start wreaking havoc, and Columbia has enough constant construction to deal with already.
- Steve Reich has actually been dead for twenty years, and will haunt the Miller Theatre until every single one of his pieces is performed there. If you enter the theater in the middle of the night on Halloween, you might hear his disembodied voice whispering, “Do it for the aesthetic.”
The ghost of Steve Reich’s past via Lincoln Center website