It was tough to act nonchalant strolling into The Firkin Crane at 5.59 after a frantic race from work to catch Counterpoint at 6pm. I must admit there was a moment of madness where I was tempted to just give up but boy am I glad that ill thought did not prevail as the occupants of the auditorium on Thursday evening were treated to an hour or so of pure brilliance.
A quartet of talented local musicians individually performed pieces from the work of Steve Reich. Dauntingly enough, the man himself was in the audience to enjoy the show. Carloyn Goodwin (who, as it happens, is also a member of Fred) was up first on soprano saxophone mesmerising the Firkin crowd with her performance of New York Counterpoint. The bar was set high for flautist Fiona Kelly who would perform Vermont Counterpoint; amazing to think the piece was composed nearly thirty years ago. Fiona is currently studying at Juilliard, the world famous New York performing arts school of which Reich himself is a former student, and it shows that as she is a wondrous talent.
The second half of Counterpoint includes the magnificent Niwel Tsumbu's Electric Counterpoint with the Democratic Republic of Congo native, as ever, seeming as one with his guitar and Kate Ellis on cello performing Cello Counterpoint. The latter (who happens to be co-curator of both The Reich Effect and Kaleidoscope which would take place later that night in the Half Moon Theatre), was joined on stage by three dancers which was fitting seeing as The Firkin is Cork's "home of dance". It was a touching moment to see Steve Reich embracing the performers, who all received a thoroughly deserved standing ovation, at the end of the show.
There was no rest for the wicked as the incredible Kronos Quartet were pencilled in to start in the Opera House at 8pm so, like many of the other attendees of the Firkin, a friend and I made the short walk down the hill with Steve Reich and Cork Opera House CEO Mary Hickson chatting quite happily as they made their own trek to the same destination on the opposite side of the road!
David Harrington (violin) and co. were more than enthusiastically introduced by John Kelly (who was still in Cork following his interview with Reich on Wednesday night and was also present in The Firkin) and began the night with 1999's Triple Quartet. The composition was written for three string quartets so the live performance (and the actual recording) featured the quartet accompanied by pre-recordings of quartets two and three. Excerpts from The Cave (written with his wife Beryl Korot exploring the roots of Judaism, Christianity and Islam) before the eagerly anticpated Irish premiere of WTC 9/11.
The new work from Steve Reich is as yet unreleased and is comprised of three movements :
What made all three so fascinating was the fact that many in attendance on the night had heard Reich speak of his new work. The opening sample, although chilling enough, possibly may not have had quite the same effect if I had not heard the man speak of the day in question so personally on Wednesday night.
"They came from Boston - Goin' to LA - and they're headed south - They're goin' the wrong They're goin' the wrong way"
2010 contains samples from locals and emergency response team members speaking in 2010 about what they remember while WTC stands for World To Come as in what happens now. The Grammy award winning and excellent Different Trains was performed after the interval rounding off, for me personally, an excellent day and night It was a truly remarkable performance and mad to think only day two of a truly remarkable urban festival.
The Reich Effect - Friday
6pm - Drumming in Cork Opera House
8pm - RTE Cork Proms in Cork City Hall
10pm - Reich Remix Club in The Pavilion