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March 23, 2010

Baltimore musicians rally for Terry Riley's minimalist classic 'In C'

For those of you who share my enthusiasm for minimalism (you never have to admit it, since clicking can be fairly anonymous in cyber-ville), I wanted to offer this video forwarded to me.

Earlier this month, about 30 local musicians from the non-classical world (I was so not cool enough to hear about this in advance) gathered at a place with an unlikely name, the Soft House (in the Copy Cat Building), to collaborate on 'In C,' the piece by Terry Riley that effectively gave birth to the musical movement annointed with the name minimalism.

It's great to see that this groundbreaking work from 1964 could find a fresh bunch of eager protagonists to give it an ecstatic performance in 2010 at an underground Baltimore venue.

Here's the list of performers, followed by the video:

Will Redman (of Microkingdom), vibraphone

Dave Jacober (of Dope Body/Holy Ghost Party), marimba

Nathan Elman-Bell (of Quartet Offensive), glockenspiel

Rob Parrish (improvisational percussionist), glockenspiel

Rod Hamilton (of Avocado Happy Hour), Malletkat

Emmanuel Nicolaidis (of Thank You), xylophone

Jeremy Hyman (of Ponytail), marimba

Jon Birkholz (of Soul Cannon), organ

Ben Frock (of Ben Frock and the Subatomic Particles), organ

Tim Murphy (Baltimore jazz legend), rhodes

Amanda Schmidt (of Avocado Happy Hour), rhodes

Dustin Wong (of Dustin Wong/Ponytail), electric guitar

Zach Utz (of Dope Body/Holy Ghost Party), electric guitar

Jaime Moffett (jazz musician), electric guitar

Andrew Bernstein (of Teeth Mountain), alto sax

John Dierker (of Microkingdom/Quartet Offensive), tenor sax

Andy Abelow (of Small Sur/Soft Cat), alto sax

Britton Powell (of Hume), double bass

Kate Barutha (of Soft Cat), cello

Will Pesta (of Happy Family), laptop

Grayson Brown (of Comeback Ranch), laptop

John Somers (of Do While), laptop

Sam Shea (of Copycat Theatre), laptop

John Jones (of Each Others), laptop

Beau Crawley (of Turquoise Cats/Drugs Bunny), live processing

Mark Brown (of DJ Mark Brown), live processing

John Butler (of Mothersday), live processing

Tom Fitzgibbon (sounds), live processing

Posted by Tim Smith at 10:07 AM | | Comments (4)


I have no trouble admitting my _extreme_ enthusiasm for "minimalism" in its various forms -- though I must also admit a lack of enthusiasm for the name itself. ;^)

Riley is one of my cornerstone influences, and while I enjoy "In C" (hard to pin down my favourite recording, but I've always been especially fond of the Shanghai Film Orchestra performance on Celestial Harmonies), I especially enjoy his keyboard works/improvs. But "In C" is a great collaborative setup, much like a reined-in John Cage (where things can always go rather wacky). Riley's always been lots of fun!

Interesting! At one point danceable and later mesmerizing. I liked the many layers which were fairly complex for what the name minimalist implies. One question--what is a rhodes??

I was hoping everyone else would know, 'cause I sure didn't. As far as I can determine, it's a particular kind of electirc piano. TIM

Yep! I Googled it. It looks like an improvement over the old electric keyboards with an action closer to a standard piano.

Tim, Rhodes is the company that makes the electric pianos.

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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