Many music fans think Reich is unsurpassed. Here are five reasons why.

1, His music balances brain and spirit: meticulously assembled, it unfolds spaciously, sensuously. It uplifts.

2. Reich's ingenious compositions draw on many influences: Ghanaian drumming, Indonesian gamelan, Coltrane jazz and medieval polyphony, mixing them up to create a world that's unique yet familiar.

3. It's accessible. For all its complexity, his music has a way of focusing the listener. At its best, the Reich experience is like walking through an enchanted forest: the music pulses and explodes with light. Its grooves shimmy and shimmer. As with all the best composers, his music transfixes.

Composer Steve Reich
Composer Steve Reich (unknown)

4. At age 76, he keeps evolving, and has moved well beyond his early "minimalist" methods, wherein he obsessively repeated and transmuted small bits of musical materials: rhythms and riffs. Reich's recent works can be darker and more anxious than earlier ones: His "WTC 9/11" (a reflection on the 2001 World Trade Center attack) even jars with dissonance. Yet Reich is Reich; his essential sound remains.

5. His "Music for 18 Musicians" is one of the masterworks of the 20th century.

Contact Richard Scheinin at 408-920-5069, read his stories and reviews at www.mercurynews.com/richard-scheinin and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/richardscheinin



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