Steve Reich, Phillip Glass Set Aside Differences on 'Four Organs' at Brooklyn Academy of Music with Nico Muhly, Timo Andres, David Cossin for Nonesuch's 50 Anniversary

By Maria Jean Sullivan on Sep 12, 2014 12:32 PM EDT

Steve Reich’s Four Organs was performed Tuesday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with Philip Glass, Nico Muhly, David Cossin and Timo Andres. The performance was the first of three at BAM by Reich and Glass as part of the 50th anniversary of the Nonesuch record label.

Pre-performance, however, there has been a bit of drama surrounding the idea of Reich vs. Glass sharing a stage for the first time in more than 30 years (the two minimalists had had a disagreement, pausing their friendship decades ago).

But on Tuesday night, the two giants of contemporary comp performed the piece the used to play together in the 1970s: Reich's Four Organs.

And in return, almost as a sign of peace, Reich played in Glass' 1969 piece Music in Similar Motion.

Reich relayed to NPR that the emotional resonance of the performance of Four Organs was of a greater significance than their argument.

"There were a lot of humane things going into this performance,” said Reich.

Organs is a hard piece to perform, as it studiously deconstructs the six notes of two chords (B-D-F# and E-G#-B). Apropos, there was visible counting from the performers to ensure perfection.

Post-Organs, the evening’s program was a split between Glass and Reich's work. The set list, if you will, also consisted of CIVIL warS, a 12-hour opera created by director Robert Wilson with music by Glass, David Byrne, Gavin Bryars and others for the 1984 Summer Olympics, as well as the "Cologne" excerpt and tunes from Glass’ ancient Egypt opera Akhnaten.

Watch below the earliest recording of the Philip Glass Ensemble, as part of Music in Similar Motion. The performance was broadcast on KPFA-FM San Francisco on November 6, 1970...featuring Reich and Jon Gibson.

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TagsPhillip Glass, Steve Reich, BAM, Nico Muhly, David Cossin, Timo Andres, Nonesuch Records

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