Sunday, November 20, 2011

Terry Riley’s In C, In School

Do you know what this young man is doing?

Here's a hint:

If you haven’t guessed, he’s singing and dancing to Terry Riley’s In C.

The place is Poughkeepsie Day School, at its playful and play-filled Fall Festival Reimagined.

The musicians are students, teachers, and parents at Poughkeepsie Day School, aided and abetted by Contemporaneous players Dylan Mattingly, David Bloom, Finnegan Shanahan, and Sarah Longstreth.

In C has been called “the founding work of the musical movement called minimalism.”

The piece consists of fifty-three short phrases, and the musicians choose when to move from one to the next.

To keep everyone together, at least one musician plays the note C in a steady pulse for the entire length of the piece.  In this case there were four keeping the pulse:  Mattingly, Longstreth, and two young players from PDS.  These two PDS students (see photo at left) had the hardest assignment of anyone and hung in there like pros.

Here's a montage of the group getting ready to play, including Bloom and Mattingly explaining In C:

I swear this little one is crawling to the beat:

Here’s a brief montage of the performance:

The full performance can be found here and here.

That's Damon Banks, on the music faculty at PDS, with members of Contemporaneous.

Postscript:  I feel privileged to have played a wee small part in bringing Contemporaneous and Terry Riley’s In C to Poughkeepsie Day School and to have been there to see everyone involved having such fun.


Suze said...

Sue, whatever you are celebrating, I wish you the very warmest week with your intimates. What a beautiful post to leave us with for a bit. My admiration for you grows.


Britta said...

Dear Susan,
one can see and hear them having fun! I always admire children following music so naturally in move and singing. Have a happy celebration!

Friko said...

How very lovely, all these lively and engaged people singing and dancing and making music together, even the babies are joining in.

That's how it should be!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, dear Susan.

shoreacres said...

This is what school ought to be - exploration, fun, creativity and learning all wrapped up into one.

What I most appreciated about this post is that it led me to the home page of the school. I poked around there a good bit, and was mightily refreshed when I emerged.

Such places should be the object of thanks-giving this week, too - even for those of us who don't have a child there.

Christine Agro said...

I am a parent at PDS and I spoke very briefly with you yesterday as you were videoing.

Our son Caidin, who is 7, was one of the kids playing ‘c’ – he was on the guitar. I loved your post as it allowed me to explain even more to him what he was doing yesterday and the role he played.

He loved being involved with a ‘band’ and playing with the older ‘kids’. Very validating and reaffirming for him.

Thank you again!

The Metaphysical Feminist
Empowering Women and Girls with Life Changing Insight

Ps…I LOVED shoreacres comment about PDS and emerging refreshed after exploring the site!

David said...

Good to see this sort of thing is happening in American schools, too - it seems to have taken off here. I'll never forget the BBC Symphony Orchestra's John Cage weekend, which involved the participation of hundreds of schoolchildren around the foyers. Cage is a fabulous starting point for kids to see music as part of the wider sphere of sound and anything-goes.

Next stop, surely, Satie's Vexations - 18 hours of one short idea, played in shifts by players of all abilities...sure your favourite young movers and shakers could combine the charity element for that marathon, too...

Mark Kerstetter said...

Sue: Have a wonderful time with your friends, and thanks so much for sharing the joy!

klahanie said...

Dear Susan,
My humblest apologies for not responding to this delightful posting at an earlier time.
What I really like about your articles is how you highlight all that wonderful young musical talent. This was a lovely read and I greatly enjoyed those accompanying videos.
At the time of you reading my comment, it may well be a belated Happy American Thanksgiving to you and all that celebrate it.
With respect and kind wishes, your way, Gary

Susan Scheid said...

Suze, Britta, Friko, Mark, Gary: You are all so wonderful for being willing to come along with me on my musical adventures. This one was a real charmer, to be sure. I’m pleased to know that the post conveyed something of the fun of being an eyewitness to this event.

shoreacres: I love that you went over to the PDS site and came back refreshed. Your description of the school is exactly on the mark.

Christine: A special thanks to you for writing to tell the story from a parent’s and child’s eye view, and yes, wasn’t that nice to see shoreacre’s comment?

David: The Cage weekend must have been something to see and hear. As for Satie’s Vexations—I didn’t know he’d written a marathon piece. Had to look that right up—fun to find out the first marathon performance was produced by none other than John Cage.

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