Saturday, March 24, 2012

Terry Riley, Live at Old First Church, S.F., CA 3/23/12

Disaster Amnesiac would venture to guess that for many fans of Modern Composition in the S.F. Bay Area, Terry Riley is kind of considered ours. The man and his music are local treasures. Needless to say, the minute he walked out onto the pulpit of Old First Church last night, he received copious applause without having to play a note. With an acknowledging nod, he sat down at the grand piano, and played.
Above: glowing Riley strides

Terry's first set was comprised of five or six pieces, in which he showed his affinity for and skill with late 19th and early 20th Century forms, from Impressionism to Ragtime to Stride to Jazz. He melded his much-honed Kirana skills, learned from master Pandit Pran Nath, into these forms, at one point adding his signature singing to a beautiful alap. The sound struck me as a sublime fusion of Eastern and Western musical forms, very well thought out and organic.

Above: Riley's alap, filtered warm

Above: Riley ascends to the organ

For the second set, Terry played a lengthy, heavy improvisation on Old First Church's substantial organ, which featured modes much more reminiscent of works such as Shri Camel and Descending Moonshine Dervishes. It was 45 minutes of sonic bliss and rapture!

Above: Disaster Amnesiac in the bliss zone, photo sneaked by Mrs. Amnesiac

I can't say enough good things about Terry Riley. His presence is that of a holy man, although he would probably be embarrassed by that notion. Still, his long history of work, his wonderful music, and his mirthful presence make him an incredibly inspiring musician.

Above: Terry Riley glowing bow

2 comments:

Pig State Recon said...

Wow! Terry Riley is such a groundbreaking musician, this couldn't have been anything but amazing. Wish I could have been there too.

Mark Pino said...

He's always amazing! Such warmth.