Seeing the Steve Reich Ensemble in the late 80's, possibly at the Whitney Museum. In the middle of Drumming part IV one of the marimbists lost their place in the complex structure of the work and fell out of the piece. Reich, playing the tuned drums, was simultaneously trying to give the lost musician the count by nodding his head on the "and . . . one". All the other musicians by sheer will were sort of generating an energy field trying to carry their colleague back into the piece. We the audience were collectively holding our breaths and then, after what seemed like a minute, the musician reaquired the count and launched back into the magnificent weave. It was a tremendous moment! We all knew we had just witnessed something very special—to be shown the inner workings of this complex, Swiss watch-like piece and what it takes for an ensemble of percussionists and singers to keep it aloft. We gave a huge and heartfelt ovation. It was an infinitely better concert experience than had every piece of the evening come off flawlessly.
—Richard Shaw
When I was about 16 I saw the Philip Glass Ensemble in Houston and it absolutely blew my world open. I had been playing the Cello in an orchestral setting since I was about 9 and attending concert's at Rice's Shepherd School with my parents since I could walk, but our orchestra didn't get much more adventurous than Danzon Cubano and the student work at Rice was mostly repertory standards (the performance students) or so out there that it never really clicked with me (the composers). The PGE concert came together in a way that changed my understanding of performance, of the value of live music, of what music could be; and it suddenly left me searching for (and finding) more than a lifetime of incredible music. I was actually there on a first date with a girl I had wanted to date for a while, but all I remembered even the next day was the music. I was locked into my seat the entire time, achieving some kind of otherworldly experience with the 3rd act of The Photographer. I'm not sure I said anything to my date for the rest of the night. I was still in it, and sorting out what exactly "it" was for a week. Thankfully she was a wonderful person and we remained friends, but I can honestly say that Glass has now impacted my life far more than she.
—Allen Pierce
Philip Glass's live performance of "Glassworks," St. Louis Art Museum, 1973. Snatches of the uniquely interesting piece were promoted on local FM stations for two weeks. The Auditorium audience started with about 150 people in attendance. The walk-out began gradually 5 minutes into the piece. I stayed about 20 minutes with maybe 8 people scattered about, when I realized my high pain threshold was deteriorating and the shear boredom of the repetitive arpeggios was driving me insane. The composer, playing keyboard and directing from the bench with an occasional nod, gave no indication that corrections should be made nor that there was, indeed, an audience or a problem. To this day, I consider this piece one of the most god-awful examples of the genre called, Minimalism. I guess, if you are a composer, you have to start somewhere.
—James Nickel
This is a VERY difficult question for me to answer, but I will lump just a few select "experiences" together and call it a day: (1) Hearing Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8 performed by the Blair String Quartet at Vanderbilt University, (2) Performing a Bach Chorale from the St. Matthew Passion ("Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden") IN the Thomaskirche, in Leipzig, Germany, and (3) Taking part in all things "Bang on a Can" that I was lucky enough to experience in person (Marathons, the Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA, etc.)...
—Sam Crawford
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