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Nemmers Prize Winner Steve Reich returns to Bienen School of Music for second residency

Pulitzer and Grammy Award-winning composer celebrated with two concerts

Scenes from Steve Reich’s February 2017 residency at the Bienen School of Music. Video by Kristin Samuelson.

EVANSTON -- Musical pioneer Steve Reich returns for his second residency at Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music. The recipient of the 2016 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition, Reich will attend music rehearsals, discussions with students and faculty and performances of his work Nov. 15 and 16.

Called “our greatest living composer” by The New York Times, Reich embraces aspects of Western classical music as well as the structures, harmonies and rhythms of non-Western and American vernacular music, particularly jazz, in his work. The Pulitzer Prize-winning and Grammy Award-winning composer has received numerous honors, and his work has been performed by major orchestras and ensembles around the world.

The Bienen School presents a two-day celebration of Reich’s music in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, on the Evanston campus.

  •  Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m., the Bienen School’s Percussion Ensemble, directed by She-e Wu, performs Reich’s “Music for Pieces of Wood,” “Nagoya Marimbas,” Mallet Quartet and Sextet.
  • Thursday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m.,  Bienen’s Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, Contemporary Music Ensemble and Saxophone Ensemble perform Reich’s “Radio Rewrite,” “Pulse,” “New York Counterpoint” and “Tehillim,” conducted by Ben Bolter, Alan Pierson and Taimur Sullivan.

Reich will be in attendance for both performances and will provide brief remarks about the work.

Concert tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students with a valid ID and are available from, by phone at 847-467-4000 or by visiting the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall box office.

 About Steve Reich

A pioneer of minimalist music, SteveReich build his reputation during the 1960s along with such composers as La Monte Young, Terry Riley and Philip Glass.

Reich was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his composition “Double Sextet” and received a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Composition for “Different Trains” as recorded by the Kronos Quartet in 1990.  He has received both the Polar Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and the Praemium Imperiale Award in Music from the Japan Art Association in Tokyo.

Among the orchestras and ensembles that have performed Reich’s music around the world are the London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain, London Sinfonietta, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Reich’s style has influenced many fellow composers and groups, including composer John Adams, musician Brian Eno, progressive rock band King Crimson and indie rock songwriter Sufjan Stevens.

About the Nemmers Prize in Music Composition

Established in 2003, the $100,000 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition honors classical music composers of outstanding achievement who have significantly influenced the field of composition. Previous winners of the biennial award include John Adams (2004), Oliver Knussen (2006), Kaija Saariaho (2008), John Luther Adams (2010), Aaron Jay Kernis (2012) and Esa-Pekka Salonen (2014). Nominations are currently being accepted for the 2018 prize.  

The Bienen School is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts.