Reich Richter Pärt
About this commission
Reich Richter Pärt, an immersive live performance and exhibition in two parts—one conceived by composer Steve Reich and painter Gerhard Richter, the other by Richter and composer Arvo Pärt—explores the shared sensory language of visual art and music. The Richter Pärt partnership builds on a concept developed by Alex Poots and Hans Ulrich Obrist for the Manchester International Festival and features a live performance of Pärt’s captivating choral composition surrounded by Richter’s new work, including wallpaper and three jacquard tapestries. The Reich Richter collaboration, a Shed commission, draws connections between Richter’s mathematical formula for his “Patterns” series and Reich’s rigorous, repeating musical structures in a moving picture work made with Corinna Belz synchronized with a live performance of a new Reich composition.
Organized by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Senior Program Advisor, and Alex Poots, Artistic Director and CEO
Steve Reich has influenced composers and mainstream musicians all over the world. Music for 18 Musicians and Different Trains have earned him two Grammy Awards, and in 2009, his Double Sextet won the Pulitzer Prize. Reich’s documentary video opera works—The Cave and Three Tales, done in collaboration with video artist Beryl Korot—have been performed on four continents. His recent work Quartet, for percussionist Colin Currie, sold out two consecutive concerts at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London shortly after tens of thousands at the Glastonbury Festival heard Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead) perform Electric Counterpoint followed by the London Sinfonietta performing his Music for 18 Musicians.
In 2012, Reich was awarded the Gold Medal in Music by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has additionally received the Praemium Imperiale in Tokyo, the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm, the BBVA Award in Madrid, and recently the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale. He has been named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and has been awarded honorary doctorates by the Royal College of Music in London, the Juilliard School, the Liszt Academy in Budapest, and the New England Conservatory of Music, among others. “There’s just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them,” states The Guardian.
Estonian-born composer Arvo Pärt’s creative output has significantly changed the way we understand the nature of music. As one of the most radical representatives of the Soviet avant-garde, Pärt’s work passed through a profound evolutionary process: from neo-classical piano music to the individual use of dodecaphony, composition with sound masses, chance music, and collage technique. Most notably, Pärt has shifted the boundaries with his unique tintinnabuli music.
After his last and most dramatic collage piece Credo (1968), Pärt withdrew for almost eight years. In 1976, after intensive study of Gregorian chant, the Notre Dame School, and classic vocal polyphony, he emerged with a new and highly original musical language which he called tintinnabuli (from tintinnabulum, Latin for “little bell”) and which has defined his work up to today. Tintinnabuli first appeared in a short piano piece Für Alina (1976), a subsequent rush of new works included Fratres, Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, and Tabula rasa (1977), which remain among his most highly regarded. His “musical Credo” is rooted in the Christian tradition, and since the Word (Logos) plays a vital and even structural role in Pärt’s compositional process, both his orchestral and vocal works are mostly based on liturgical texts. Pärt’s oeuvre is rich and versatile, including many large-scale compositions for choir and orchestra, four symphonies, and works for soloists and orchestra, as well as numerous choral pieces and chamber music.
In 1980, Arvo Pärt was urged by public authorities to leave the country. He and his family settled first in Vienna and then West Berlin. Important works like Passio, Te Deum, Miserere, Lamentate, Symphonie No. 4, Adam’s Lament, and numerous choral works have been created ever since and have been performed worldwide.
In 2010, Pärt returned to Estonia where he resides today. The same year the Arvo Pärt Centre, which holds Pärt’s personal archive, was established in Laulasmaa, near Tallinn, by the composer’s family. His numerous awards include honorary membership of American Academy of Arts and Letters (1996), Classical Brit Awards (2003, 2011), Léonie Sonning Music Prize (2008), Premium Imperiale (2014) and Ratzinger Prize (2017). He is a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture in Vatican and holds honorary doctorates from several universities, University of Sydney, Australia (1996), University of Durham (2002) and University of St Andrews, United Kingdom (2010), St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, USA (2014), Oxford University, United Kingdom (2016) among others.
Ensemble Signal, described by the New York Times as “one of the most vital groups of its kind” and “a new-music ensemble that by this point practically guarantees quality performances,” is a New York-based ensemble dedicated to offering the broadest possible audience access to a diverse range of contemporary works through performance, commissioning, recording, and education. Signal was founded by Co-Artistic/Executive Director Lauren Radnofsky and Co-Artistic Director/Conductor Brad Lubman.
Since its debut in 2008, Signal has performed over 200 concerts, given New York, world, or US premieres of over 20 works, and co-produced 10 recordings. Signal has appeared at Lincoln Center Festival, Walt Disney Concert Hall, BIG EARS, Cal Performances, Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, Works & Process at the Guggenheim, The Bang on a Can Marathon, Washington Performing Arts and the Library of Congress, and has worked closely with composers including Steve Reich, Helmut Lachenmann, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Oliver Knussen and Hilda Paredes. Their educational activities include community performances and educational outreach, as well as workshops with emerging composers.
Steve Reich projects have been a special focus for Ensemble Signal over the past decade. Signal made its 2008 debut in New York City performing Reich’s Daniel Variations. Since then, Signal has added to its repertoire 20 works by Reich and has mounted nearly 30 events involving Reich’s work. Throughout 2017 – 18, they gave the US premieres of a new work by Reich for 19 musicians entitled Runner at venues across the US. Their recording of Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians on harmonia mundi received widespread critical acclaim including a Diapason d’or and appeared on the Billboard Classical Crossover Charts.
The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) is an artist collective that is transforming the way music is created and experienced. As performer, curator, and educator, ICE explores how new music intersects with communities across the world. The ensemble’s 35 members are featured as soloists, chamber musicians, commissioners, and collaborators with the foremost musical artists of our time. A recipient of the American Music Center’s Trailblazer Award and the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, ICE was also named the 2014 Musical America Ensemble of the Year. The group currently serves as artist in residence at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’s Mostly Mozart Festival and previously led a five-year residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
New initiatives include OpenICE, made possible with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which offers free concerts and related programming wherever ICE performs, and enables a working process with composers to unfold in public settings. DigitICE, a free online library of over 350 streaming videos, catalogues the ensemble’s performances. ICE’s First Page program is a commissioning consortium that fosters close collaborations between performers, composers, and listeners as new music is developed. EntICE, a side-by-side education program, places ICE musicians within youth orchestras as they premiere new commissioned works together.
The Grammy-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street, directed by Julian Wachner, is the premier ensemble of the celebrated music program at Trinity Church Wall Street.
Besides leading liturgical music at Trinity’s services each Sunday, the choir performs in Bach + One, Compline by Candlelight, and many other concerts and festivals throughout the year, often in collaboration with the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, NOVUS NY, and Trinity Youth Chorus. Each year the choir anchors Trinity’s Time’s Arrow festival, while its celebrated performances of Handel’s Messiah have become a long and storied annual tradition. This season at Trinity, in addition to its regular midday programming, the choir showcases new music by David T. Little, Ellen Reid, Daniel Schlosberg, and Nico Muhly in monthly evening concerts.
The Choir of Trinity Wall Street has been featured with the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the New York Philharmonic, and the Rolling Stones, during the band’s 50th anniversary tour. In recent seasons the choir has performed at Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and London’s Barbican Theatre, besides touring extensively throughout the United States, with appearances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Berkeley Early Music Festival, Brooklyn’s National Sawdust, BAM Next Wave Festival, and the Prototype Festival, where the choir premiered Du Yun’s Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Angel’s Bone. This season brings the world and East Coast premieres of Ellen Reid and Roxie Perkins’s new opera p r i s m, a Trinity co-commission with Prototype, at LA’s REDCAT and NYC’s La MaMa, as well as a reprise of Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Anthracite Fields at Carnegie Hall.
The Choir of Trinity Wall Street received a Grammy nomination for Handel’s Israel in Egypt, recorded with Wachner and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra for Music Omnia. Released on the ARSIS, Avie Records, Cantaloupe Music, Musica Omnia, Naxos, and VIA Recordings labels, the choir’s discography also features Bach’s complete motets, Du Yun’s Angel’s Bone, a Grammy-nominated recording of Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields, and choral music by Ralf Gawlick, Trevor Weston, and Wachner himself. Like the choir’s many other collaborations with living composers, these recordings testify to its unwavering commitment to new music.
Location and dates
Thursday – Saturday at 1:00 pm, 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm, and 6:30 pm
The History of Reich Richter Pärt
Richter and Pärt
The genesis of Reich Richter Pärt was the collaboration between Gerhard Richter and Arvo Pärt.
It came as a surprise to learn, as we did in 2013, that Richter, the German painter, and Pärt, the Estonian composer, had never met one another. It wasn’t from a belief that their work necessarily connects them. It was more that—as two hugely fêted artists born in the 1930s, both brought up under difficult communist regimes in Eastern Europe, both profoundly affected by World War II, and both sometime residents of Germany (Richter was born in Dresden and now lives in Cologne; Pärt moved to Berlin in the late 1980s and spent 30 years in the city)—it was interesting that their personal paths had never crossed.
The idea for this commission emerged over the course of a long-haul flight to the United States in 2013, when the two of us spent several hours discussing artists we really admired and with whom we might like to work in new ways. We spent a long time talking about Richter, with whom Hans Ulrich had first worked in the early 1990s, and who has been a true inspiration in his creative path; and about Pärt, whom Alex had commissioned to write a new piece for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in 2003. Once we had made the connections between their backgrounds, and once we had learned that Richter enjoys and is inspired by Pärt’s music, we endeavored to bring the two men together. In the German city of Dresden in 2013, they met for the first time.
The first fruits of the collaboration between Richter and Pärt were presented at Pictures/Series, a Richter collaboration at the Fondation Beyeler in 2014 that included Doppelgrau (Double Grey) (2014), diptychs of different tones of grey on glass. On August 28, 2014, Vox Clamantis performed a selection of Pärt’s music at the exhibition, a performance that included the world premiere of Drei Hirtenkinder aus Fátima (2014). In 2015, we presented this collaboration at the Whitworth, Manchester, UK, as part of the Manchester International Festival. For this commission, Richter included Double Grey and Birkenau (2014), four large abstract paintings based on photographs taken by a prisoner in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. Pärt performed the choral work Drei Hirtenkinder aus Fátima, now dedicated to Richter.
When invited to reimagine this work at The Shed, as part of Reich Richter Pärt, Richter created a new immersive installation of wallpapers and jacquard woven tapestries that emulate stained glass to accompany Pärt’s Drei Hirtenkinder aus Fátima. The piece is performed at The Shed in rotation by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.
Reich and Richter
While Gerhard Richter and Steve Reich have previously found inspiration in each other’s work, The Shed’s commission marks the first collaboration between the two visionaries. Both Richter and Reich looked to the founding principles of Richter’s “Patterns” series, which starts with an abstract painting. In 2012, Richter published a book titled Patterns, where the artist started with an abstract painting he made in 1990. Using a computer image of the painting, he divided it vertically into two halves and then divided those halves into quarters, making a mirror image of two of the quarters. He then divided the painting into fourths, eighths, 16ths, and so on, up to 4096ths. Each step follows the exact same procedure of divide, mirror, and repeat. The result is an abstract image that becomes a series of increasingly dense patterns, and eventually solid bands of colors. The installation for Reich Richter Pärt includes wallpapers, woven tapestries, and a film by Richter, made in collaboration with Corinna Belz, which applies his algorithmic process to his 1990 Abstraktes Bild. As Reich writes, “The film, for which I wrote the music, is basically the Patterns book backwards. It begins with the solid bands of color. These bands are actually each made of only two pixels. As the film progresses the pixel count is multiplied to four, eight, 16, and so on. Eventually the pixel count is diminished, ending, as it began, with two pixels. The music for the film follows that structure.”
At the heart of the collaboration between Reich and Richter is a structural plan that can be applied equally to painting and music, forming a unique installation. Richter’s wallpaper works in the installation present the final stages of Richter’s “Patterns” formula: a painting so divided, so abstracted, that it forms strips of color. In discussing his world premiere for The Shed, Reich states, “Richter told me he was listening to my music when he did his ‘Patterns’ series. I would bet he was listening to some of my music from the 60s or early 70s. I have now spent over 40 years moving away from that more systematic way of working. This collaboration forces me to confront a new systematic challenge that I frankly have looked forward to. I have had to rethink medieval musical procedures (which I love and admire) in order to create something new.” Reich’s newly commissioned score is performed by Ensemble Signal and International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). Reich Richter Pärt forms a stream of images, its rhythmic flow interpreted by music and, at the same time, a musical composition visualized by art.
Gerhard Richter: Music and Art
Reich Richter Pärt can be placed in the context of Richter’s long-term interest in music. This interest has manifested itself in a variety of ways: a poster he designed for a Glenn Branca concert at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf in 1983; the cover of Sonic Youth’s album Daydream Nation (1988), which features his earlier painting, Kerze (Candle); and City Life (2002), a book that features a series of overpainted photographs in homage to Reich. Perhaps the two key works, though, are two cycles named for, and inspired by, a pair of composers from very different eras.
Bach (1992), which consists of four large-format abstract paintings, reflects Richter’s lasting interest in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, to which he listened as he created the works. In his normal practice, Richter uses many different ways of applying oil to canvas with a large squeegee. In this series, however, he used only strict horizontal and vertical lines, echoing the order and harmony that characterizes much of Bach’s music.
Fourteen years later, Richter completed Cage (2006), a cycle of six abstract paintings. Richter listened to John Cage’s music while he painted the cycle, but the connection between these two artists runs more deeply. Just as many of Cage’s works were created using chance procedures, such as one inspired by the I Ching, so Richter, in abstract paintings such as Bach and Cage, intentionally allows chance effects into his creative process. While he selects the colors that he applies to his squeegee, he can’t fully regulate the trace left by the paint on the canvas, an experimental inclusion of controlled chance that echoes Cage’s compositional ethos.
Schedule of Performers
Tuesday, April 9
Wednesday, April 10
Thursday, April 11
Friday, April 12
Saturday, April 13
Tuesday, April 16
Wednesday, April 17
Thursday, April 18
Friday, April 19
Saturday, April 20
Tuesday, May 14
Wednesday, May 15
Thursday, May 16
Friday, May 17
Saturday, May 18
Sunday, May 19
Tuesday, May 21
Wednesday, May 22
Thursday, May 23
Friday, May 24
Saturday, May 25
Tuesday, May 28
Wednesday, May 29
Thursday, May 30
Friday, May 31
Saturday, June 1
Sunday, April 14
Sunday, April 21
Sunday, May 26
Sunday, June 2
Wednesday, April 24
Thursday, April 25
Friday, April 26
Saturday, April 27
Sunday, April 28
Tuesday, April 30
Wednesday, May 1
Thursday, May 2
Friday, May 3
Saturday, May 4
Sunday, May 5
Tuesday, May 7
Wednesday, May 8
Thursday, May 9
Friday, May 10
Saturday, May 11
- Running time: 50 minutes
- Doors open 15 minutes before show time
- No intermission
- All ages welcome
- The performance takes places in two parts; first the Richter Pärt pairing, then the Reich Richter pairing
- The audience will stand as performers move about the gallery; limited seating is available
- Tickets are timed
- Please note that viewing of Richter’s work for this commission is permitted only during the performance
- Standard assisted listening devices (FM) are available at the entrance to the Level 2 Gallery
- Membership does not guarantee ticket availability, so we encourage you to book early
- All tickets sales are final; times and performers are subject to change
Paul Coleman, Sound Director
Jerry Hou, Associate Conductor
Emlyn Johnson, Jessica Schmitz, Flute
Jacqueline Leclair, Erin Lensing, Christa
Sammy Lesnick, Adrían Sandí, Ken Thomson,
David Friend, Oliver Hagen (also Associate
Conductor), Lisa Moore, Piano
Matt Evans, Amy Garapic, Carson Moody,
Doug Perkins (also Cover Conductor), Vibes
Olivia De Prato, Lauren Cauley, Courtney
Isabel Hagen, Victor Lowrie, Viola
Lauren Radnofsky, Cello, Co-artistic/
Brad Lubman, Co-artistic Director
Erin Lensing, Project Manager
Nathalie Joachim, Brandon George,
Andrew Rehrig, Flute
Nick Masterson, Christa Robinson, Kemp
Jernigan, Lillian Copeland, Oboe
Joshua Rubin, Madison Freed, Sammy Lesnick,
Cory Smythe, Jacob Greenberg, Piano
Nathan Davis, Ross Karre, Levy Lorenzo, Clara Warnaar,
Jennifer Curtis, Josh Modney, Gabriela Diaz,
Marina Kifferstein, Violin
Wendy Richman, Kyle Armbrust, Viola
Mariel Roberts, Kivie Cahn-Lipman, Cello
Jeffrey Means, Conductor
Rebecca Sigel, Executive Director
Rebekah Heller, Co-artistic Director
Ross Karre, Co-artistic Director
Levy Lorenzo, Engineer and Technical Director
Ryan Muncy, Director of Development
Jacob Greenberg, Director of Recordings
Joshua Rubin, Program Director of LUIGI
Karla Brom, General Manager
Maciej Lewandowski, Director of Production
Bridgid Bergin, Development Associate
Jamie Leidwinger, Executive Assistant
Isabel Frye, Production and Communications
Kristopher Burke, Conductor
Omilana Atkins, Maya Baijal, Nora Beer, Jeanne
Bransbourg, Cora Clum, Morgan Colton,
Senlee Dieme, Maya Fahrer, Isabella Gastel-
Alejandre, Erynn Gutierrez, Aemilia Harbutt,
Lila Hasenstab, Raquel Klein, Jessie Levin,
Abigail Lienhard, Tess Lovell, Vivian Lukens,
Dalia Meneghini, Sicile Naddeo-Gjergji, Lila
Penenberg, Sierra Principal, Clara Rosarius,
Margot Saganich, Maya Sequira, Tate
Sgaraglino, Katy Urda, Joan Varous, Mariana
Sasha Abner, Lauren Berthoumieux, Leah
Clifford, Elana Field, Isabel Gilabert, Maria
Glyptis, Thalia Glyptis, Eugenie Haring, Natalie
Hawkins, Taylor Lashley, Melanie Macleod,
Kristal Pacific, Maya Renaud-Levine, Megan
Schoenberg, Sophie Smith, Aliyah Weiss, Alto
Malik Carrington, Noah Epelbaum, Lamont
Franklin, Victor Garcia, Daniel Grajales, Joseph
Hernandez, Jabari Hill, Kameron Holder,
Marques Hollier, Dylan Jackson, Aaron Nelson,
Omar Pinheiro, Jackson van Voorhees, Teddy
AJ Aiken, Christopher Conley, Anthony Courant,
Caleb Cummings, Paul Dennis, Connor
Donigian, Adam Emery, Samuel Fishman,
Brandon Foster-Bagley, Jacqui Hackett,
Kofi Hayford, Finnegan Jacobs-Young, Noah
Mattingly, Garrick Neuner, Liam Noel, Akinola
Pedro, Henry Rouslin, Brian Schuh, Daniel
Melissa Baker, Harrison Joyce, Aaron Garcia,
Forrest Eimhold, Music Staff
Elizabeth Bates, Meg Dudley, Madeline Healey,
Amaranta Viera, Elena Williamson,
Moly Netter, Soprano
Melissa Attebury, Clifton Massey,
Timothy Parsons, Pamela Terry, Alto
Brian Giebler, Stephen Sands, Scott Mello,
Timothy Hodges, Nick Karageorgiou,
David Vanderwal, Tommy Wazelle, Tenor
Paul An, Thomas McCargar, Steven Hrycelak,
Jonathan Woody, Bass
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-curator
Daniella Topol, Staging
Paul Coleman, Sound Designer
Jody Elff, Audio Design
Abigail Matey, Stage Manager
Eugene Gonchar, Projectionist
Alyssa Macaluso, Sound Assistant
Marc Warren, Director of Production
Isaac Katzanek, Production Manager
Art Domantay, Senior Exhibitions Producer
Sarah Pier, Production Supervisor
Heather Reyes, Exhibitions Producer
Joe DiMartino, Technical Director
Stephanie Quaye, Associate Producer
Thank you to our partners
The creation of new work at The Shed is generously supported by the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Commissioning Fund and The Shed Commissioners.
Major support for live productions at The Shed is provided by the Charina Endowment Fund. Support for exhibitions is provided by the Robert Lehman Foundation.