California Composer Terry Riley launched what is now known as the Minimalist movement with his revolutionary classic IN C in 1964. This seminal work provided a new concept in musical form based on interlocking repetitive patterns. It's impact was to change the course of 20th Century music and it's influence has been heard in the works of prominent composers such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Adams and in the music of Rock Groups such as The Who, The Soft Machine, Tangerine Dream, Curved Air and many others. Terry's hypnotic, multi-layered, polymetric, brightly orchestrated eastern flavored improvisations and compositions set the stage for the New Age movement that was to appear a decade or so later.
In 1970, Terry became a disciple of the revered North Indian Raga Vocalist, Pandit Pran Nath and made the first of his numerous trips to India to study with the Master. He appeared frequently in concert with the legendary singer as tampura, tabla and vocal accompanist over the next 26 years until Pran Naths passing in 1996. He has been co-director along with Sufi Murshid, Shabda Kahn of the Chisti Sabri India music study tours since 1993.
This yearly 2 week study program in India is designed to give students a deeper insight into Pran Naths profound contributions to the Classical music of India. Terry now regularly performs Raga as a vocalist along with his teaching seminars. recently appearing in concert with the great Zakir Hussein on tabla. In 1999 he performed Ragas at Delhi University in a special concert arranged for the music department and also performed at the Shivratri festival in Delhi the same year.
While teaching at Mills College in Oakland in the 1970's he met David Harrington, founder and leader of the Kronos Quartet and they began the long association that has so far produced 12 string quartets, a quintet Crows Rosary and a concerto for string quartet, The Sands which was the Salzburg Festival's first ever new music commission. Cadenza on the Night Plain was selected by both Time and Newsweek as one of the 10 best Classical albums of the year. The epic 5 quartet cycle, Salome Dances for Peace was selected as the #1 Classical album album of the year by USA Today and was nominated for a Grammy. More recently Kronos commissioned and premiered the Three Requiem quartets written in 1998 and 1999. The 3rd Requiem quartet, Requiem for Adam received wide critical acclaim marking a 20 year association for Riley and Kronos.
Riley's innovative first orchestral piece Jade Palace was commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the Centennial celebration 1990/91. It was premiered there by Leonard Slatkin and the Saint Louis Symphony. June Buddha's, for Chorus and Orchestra, based on Jack Kerouac's Mexico City Blues was commissioned by the Koussevitsky foundation in 1991. The Rova Saxophone Quartet, Array Music, Zeitgeist, the Steven Scott Bowed Piano Ensemble, The California E.A.R. unit, Guitarist's David Tanenbaum, the Assad brothers. the Abel Steinberg-Winant Trio, Pianist Werner Bartschi and the Amati Quartet
are some of the performers and ensembles who have commissioned and performed his works. From 1989 to1993 he formed and lead the ensemble Khayal to perform works
written for them. He regularly performs solo piano concerts of his works from the past 30 years.
He also appears in duo concerts with Indian Sitarist Krishna Bhatt, Saxophonist George Brooks and Italian Bassist Stefano Scodanibbio. In 1992, he formed the small theater company, The Travelling-Avantt-Gaard to perform the chamber opera The Saint Adolf Ring based on the divinely mad drawings, poetry, writings and mathematical calculations of Adolf Woelfli, an early 20th century Swiss Artist who suffered from schizophrenia and created his entire output over a 35 year span while confined in a mental institution. Terry is currently at work on a set of 24 pieces for guitar and guitar ensemble called The Book of Abbeyozzud and has recently completed a book of 4 pieces for piano, four hands. In 1999 he was commissioned by the Norwich Festival to compose a new work, WHAT THE RIVER SAID, which toured Britain with the UK based group, Sounds Bazaar featuring the great drupad vocalist Amelia Cuni. Then followed a commission from the Kanagawa Foundation in Yokohama to create an evening length work for solo piano in micro tonal tuning. THE DREAM, which received simultaneous premiers in Rome and in Yokohama performed by the composer.
The new millennium began with a tour of a new band, Terry Riley and the All Stars which included George Brooks, saxophones, Tracy Silverman, Violin and 6 string Viola , Gyan Riley Guitar and Stefano Scodanibbio, string Bass with the final concert launching the first New Sounds Live concert of the 21st Century at Merkin Hall.
There is a recently completed piano concerto, BANANA HUMBERTO 2000 commissioned by and performed with the Paul Dresher Ensemble.
In May of 2000, Terry made his first tour of Russia with solo piano concerts at the Sergei Kuryokin Festival in Saint Petersburg and at the Moscow Conservatory and the Dom, a privately run contemporary music club. The review of these concerts in Izvestia proclaimed "Terry Riley to be the greatest composer pianist since Prokofieff.
Riley was listed in the London Sunday Times as "one of the 1000 makers of the 20th Century
A new solo cello piece commissioned by legendary Artist Bruce Conner to be performed by former Kronos Quartet cellist, Jean Jeanrenaud is in progress. Music for a new staging of Michael McClure's play, Josephine the Mouse Singer has been written by Terry and ran in February 2001 in San Francisco.
Y BOLANZERO for large guitar ensemble and Assassin Reverie for Saxophone Quartet were premiered in the summer of 2001.
2002 saw the completion of SUN RINGS a full evening length work for String quartet (Kronos), Chorus and electro acoustically processed sounds from space. This work was commissioned by NASA with the premier taking place on Oct. 26, 2002 at the Hanscher Auditorium in Iowa City.
ATLANTIS NATH, THE FIRST RELEASE ON TERRY'S SRI MOONSHINE LABEL IS A LIMITED, SIGNED AND NUMBERED EDITION OF 1000. IT SHOULD BE OF PARTICULAR INTEREST TO RILEY FANS AND COLLECTORS.