World famous composer and pianist Terry Riley celebrates his 75th birthday with a concert at Gualala Arts Center accompanied by Gyan Riley on acoustic guitar, with special guest
George Brooks on tenor saxophone.
Terry visited the Gualala Arts Center in August, 2009,
for the world premiere of his composition,
"The Welcoming Baptism of Sweet Daisy Grace,"
as part of the Art in the Redwoods Festival (see photo below).
Terry was struck by the beauty of the Sonoma / Mendocino coast, and we were struck by the beauty of his music. We are honored that he agreed to perform at the Gualala Arts Center, together with his son, composer and guitarist Gyan Riley, to celebrate his 75th birthday.
One of the "1000 Makers of the 20th Century."
- London Sunday Times
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 from 1964 on for the prevailing interest in a new tonality.
"Gyan Riley is a first rate concert guitarist."
- Steve Reich, composer
is an equally strong presence in the worlds of classical guitar and of contemporary music. While studying as the first full-scholarship guitar student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, he received a recording contract for his debut CD of original works, Food for the Bearded, released in 2002 on New Albion Records.
He has since expanded his career as a composer and instrumentalist, receiving commissions from the Carnegie Hall Corporation, the New York Guitar Festival, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, and the Elaine Kaufman Cultural Center. He has performed throughout 10 European countries and across the U.S., both as a soloist and in ensemble with various artists such as Zakir Hussain, Michael Manring, Dawn Upshaw, the San Francisco Symphony, the Falla Guitar Trio, the World Guitar Ensemble, and his father, the composer / pianist / vocalist Terry Riley.
What becomes clear in listening to the Rileys is that they both thrive in the kind of environment where unexpected developments are allowed to blossom into major themes. And that's the case whether they're on a stage with 60 other musicians, or it's just the two of them.
"What I see with our duo work," says Riley the elder, "is this kind of intuitive collaboration where nobody quite knows what's going to happen in the next moment and we influence each other by what kind of energies we're putting out."
Whether it's a psychic link, or shared musical DNA, or just the product of years of playing with and listening to each other, it's a relationship onstage that echoes the one off.
"We have complete trust in each other as far as what we're going to do musically," says Terry Riley. "And that's what really makes it happen for me because you know the other person's gonna be there wherever you go."
George Brooks is the "leading American voice in Indian jazz fusion."
- San Francisco Chronicle
is a prolific and diverse saxophonist and composer, acclaimed for successfully bridging the worlds of jazz and Indian classical music.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Brooks regularly toured with American minimalist pioneer Terry Riley. Together they performed in the U.S., Europe and Japan, often with sitarist Krishna Bhatt. Brooks was a founding member of Riley's Khayal ensemble, a unique, polyrhythmic, improvisational chamber group. He premiered and recorded Riley's "June Buddhas" with the Brooklyn Philharmonic and premiered Riley's "New Islands" at P/N Hall in Tokyo.
Tickets are $25 advance, $5 more day of the concert, if available.
Young people ages 7 through 17 admitted free.
purchase tickets online
or by calling 800-838-3006. To purchase in person, visit the Gualala Arts Center, Dolphin Gallery or Four-Eyed Frog Books.
Legendary composer and pianist Terry Riley performs Saturday
World famous composer and pianist Terry Riley celebrates his 75th birthday with a concert accompanied by Gyan Riley on acoustic guitar on Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. at Gualala Arts Center.
Although he's written for a large number of ensembles, including string quartet, orchestra and chorus, Terry Riley's primary instrument has always been improvisational piano.
Riley credits his "teachers and heroes" including jazz pianists Art Tatum, Bud Powell and Bill Evans as providing the basis for his piano work. But he also credits north Indian raga, a very different musical tradition Riley has also studied deeply, and for which improvisation is also fundamental. And within the Western musical tradition, many famous composers and musicians, including Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin, were known especially for their improvisational skills.
Terry Riley's solo keyboard and piano concerts have become legendary due to his unique blending of eastern and western styles. The Russian newspaper Izvestia proclaimed "Terry Riley to be the greatest composer pianist since Prokofieff." Able to remain fully in the moment, but informed by decades of musical experience, Riley creates music which is fresh and new, while evoking ancient and eternal beauty.
Riley's hypnotic, multi-layered, poly-metric improvisational music asks us to be aware of the vibration of the strings, of the tones and the overtones, before our "mind's ear" organizes our perception into melody or harmony, and long before our conscious mind interprets the sounds as jazz or raga or classical influences.
Gyan "takes after his father... in his eclectic musical programming and embrace of a welcoming compositional style that leaves listeners feeling good, as well as sated. Besides Riley's winning persona, he's a marvelous player. At the core of his artistry lies a remarkably smooth, soulful sound that speaks from the heart." - The San Francisco Classical Voice
Terry and Gyan Riley are serious practitioners of their craft as well as their art, spending countless hours honing their performance skills. The deeply intuitive connection between this musical team of father and son leads them in breath-taking and original directions.
From long-time musical collaborator David Harrington of Kronos Quartet, to symphony and opera composers John Adams and Philip Glass, to ambient innovator Brian Eno, to rock guitarist Pete Townshend of The Who, Terry Riley's influence on contemporary musicians has been profound.
For music lovers on the Sonoma and Mendocino coast, this is a unique opportunity to hear a creative master who has influenced generations of musicians, and to celebrate his 75th birthday in an intimate concert with his very talented son at the Gualala Arts Center.
Tickets are $25 in advance, and $5 more the day of the concert, if available. You can purchase tickets online at GualalaArts.org or by calling 800-838-3006. To purchase in person, visit the Gualala Arts Center, Dolphin Gallery or Four-Eyed Frog Books.
Interview with Terry Riley
Recorded September 15, 2009
KTDE 100.5 FM in Gualala, CA
Hosted by Fred Adler
The audio quality isn't as good as it could be,
due to a technical problem at the radio station, but
Terry has some interesting comments on music.
Terry Riley, who has been an innovator in music throughout his long life, definitely still has his chops at age 75.
He was the guest of honor at a "birthday bash" concert at the Gualala Arts Center Saturday night, a performance shared by his son Gyan Riley on guitar, and surprise guest George Brooks on saxophone.
Thirty-five years ago, the jazz pianist helped create the new stream of minimalist music, along with Steve Reich and Philip Glass, enriching it with elements of classical Indian music.
Riley opened the evening with a piano transcription of his "Anthem for Disney Hall" which he had premiered three years ago on the thundering pipe organ at that venue.
On the piano, his complex rhythms and pulsating musical cycles scintillated, rather than thundered.
Riley followed that tour de force with a song from his opera "The Island of Never Anger," which he said was inspired by the paintings of an obscure artist.
The abstract poetry of the verse segued into Riley's distinctive polyrhythms, complex but never sterile, occasionally warmed with a whiff of Bossa Nova.
George Brooks, another musical innovator who had performed with Riley extensively decades ago, came to Gualala for the celebration and brought his saxophone on stage.
The musical improvisation was really conversation between old friends, and some of Riley's piano phrases elicited a chuckle from Brooks as he answered with his sax.
Brooks has perfected a circular breathing technique that enables him to continuously loop musical phrases without pause, emulating the musical figures of Riley's piano technique.
Riley and Brooks closed the first half with Thelonious Monk's "Sweet and Lovely," which was indeed all of that, and more.
Of course, it was Terry Riley's 75th birthday, so, just before intermission, a cake was brought out and the audience sang a (conventional) rendition of "Happy Birthday To You."
Terry Riley's son Gyan opened the second half with his own Spanish-style solo guitar composition, complex, articulated and lyrical.
When Terry Riley joined his son on stage, though, the piano and guitar melded into one instrumental sound, with father and son simultaneously playing those hypnotic phrases. George Brooks added his sax to the mix, closing a performance that that brought the audience to its feet.
Terry Riley playing our Mason & Hamlin model BB grand piano
Terry & Gyan Riley
Gyan Riley and George Brooks
Terry Riley, Gyan Riley and George Brooks
Happy Birthday, Terry!
More photos on
The Gualala Arts Center, located at 46501 Old State Highway in Gualala, CA,
is open weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Please call (707) 884-1138 for more information, or email
Serving the coastal communities of northern Sonoma & southern Mendocino Counties.