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Santa Monica Library to Stage 'Community Performance' of Riley's 'In C'
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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Jorge Casuso

December 2, 2016 -- The score is only one page and any number of musicians can participate in a performance that can last from 15 minutes to more than an hour.

Terry Riley's "In C," a pioneering minimalist work composed in 1964, will receive a "community performance" at the Santa Monica Public Library on Wednesday December 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Main Library’s Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium.

Comprised of 53 melodic fragments each repeated as many times as each individual musician chooses, the work creates ever-changing interlocking patterns that result in an often ecstatic, trance-like experience.

"Because the materials and rules of 'In C' are relatively simple, and because it can be played by any combination of instruments and a group of any size, all interested musicians are invited to participate in this performance," said organizers of the Soundwaves new music series at the library.

Th performance will include students and faculty from regional colleges and universities and members of an eclectic mix of local orchestras and bands, organizers said.

Recordings of the work have ranged from the Chinese Film Orchestra of Shanghai's rendition on traditional Chinese instruments to the Hungarian “European Music Project” group's version that featured two electronica DJs manipulating The Pulse, according to Robert Carl, the author of the book "Terry Riley’s In C."

Those familiar with the music of Steve Reich and Philip Glass will recognize the repetitive patterns that detractors have likened to a sound of a gramophone stylus stuck on a groove.

But for generations of fans, starting with those weened on psychedelic rock, concentrating on the seemingly imperceptible changes in the pulsating sounds is an engaging, nearly mystical experience.

"This unique gathering will represent the depth and diversity of the Los Angeles music scene," organizers said.

The concert's setting is apt for a work that, as Carl wrote, put the West Coast on the modern musical map.

"In C represents a major shift, perhaps the definitive shift, of dominant musical culture away from the East Coast and its Europhilic aesthetic to the West Coast, and in particular to California," he wrote.

Participating musicians should download the sheet music from sheet music and arrive by 6 p.m. for a short rehearsal. Pitched instruments, preferably acoustic, are preferred.

This program is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and on a first arrival basis.

For more information, call (310) 458-8600 or visit

The auditorium is wheelchair-accessible. For other disabled services, call Administration at (310) 458-8606 one week ahead.

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