PuSh Blog

PuSh 2010 Curatorial Statement: So Percussion plays Steve Reich and David Lang

December 18, 2009

by David Pay, Artistic Director of Music on Main

You know when you fall for a song or a book or a great TV show so completely that you need to experience it over and over? That kind of obsession happens to me a lot.

One kind of music that I’ve been obsessed with since my late teens is Minimalism. I remember lying on my dorm room floor in the second year of undergrad, studying for a music history exam, and listening to Steve Reich’s Violin Phase endlessly. That was the beginning of a passion for Minimalism that has been a driving force in my programming for Music on Main, the classical, new, and genre-bending music series I started in 2006.

From Steve Reich’s Drumming and Terry Riley’s In C to a festival celebrating the music of Louis Andriessen, Music on Main has been working through some of the movement’s masterpieces. And with the appearance of So Percussion at the 2010 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, we’re continuing that stream with some rarely-performed music by Steve Reich and David Lang’s stunning so-called laws of nature.

Something that drives my love of Minimalism – and the music influenced by Minimalism – is its ability to shine a light on different facets of perception. Through the use of repeated musical motifs, and through the displacement of time, Minimalism calls into question the relationships of formal structure to the body, and of intellect to visceral experience. I feel Minimalism’s rhythms in my body and my brain seems to respond to the shifts in rhythm by re-setting itself. Kind of like when your heart skips a beat over something surprising and ultimately satisfying.

So Percussion is a Brooklyn-based percussion quartet that David Lang introduced to me a couple of years ago. He wrote the so-called laws of nature for them in 2001/2002, and since then, they’ve been performing with Steve Reich, making award-winning recordings and appearing at some of the world’s most prestigious festivals. With David’s introduction, we were able to book their long-overdue Vancouver debut where they’ll play a quintessential Music on Main-esque programme: Steve Reich’s Four Organs and Music for Pieces of Wood and David Lang’s the so-called laws of nature.

Their programme spans more than thirty years of composing, and calls into question “what is Minimalism, what is post-Minimalism, and when music is just really great, do labels even matter?” Intellectually and viscerally, it will be an experience to remember.

So Percussion plays Steve Reich and David Lang is part of the 2010 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and is presented with Music on Main. January 24 & 25, 2010 at 8pm, Heritage Hall. Click here for full details.


  1. Wonderful! David Pay is a gift to Vancouver. I wish I lived there to enjoy the sonic ride on his curatorial wave.

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