Students from the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble (BCE) and Contemporary Music Ensemble (CME) received high praise from Chicago Tribune’s John von Rhein following a Monday night MusicNOW performance at Harris Theater in honor of Steve Reich’s 80th birthday.

“The young Bienen School musicians — three sopranos, two tenors, two vibraphonists, two electric organists — were simply terrific in Reich's Proverb (1995), yielding nothing in whistle-clean vitality to older colleagues on Monday's roster,” von Rhein wrote. Read more from von Rhein’s review of the “brilliantly performed program.”

Bienen School lecturer Alan Pierson conducted the evening’s program, which also included Reich’s Different Trains and Double Sextet performed by Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians.

Chicago Classical Review also applauded the student musicians, noting that CME “offered an alert and responsive performance” and the three sopranos handled the “high, mercilessly exposed writing with aplomb.” Critic Lawrence A. Johnson also praised Pierson, who “led a dynamic and propulsive performance with ample energy.” Read the full review here.

Steve Reich is the 2016 recipient of the Bienen School of Music’s prestigious Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition. Previous winners have included Oliver Knussen (2006), Kaija Saariaho (2008), John Luther Adams (2010), Aaron Jay Kernis (2012), and Esa-Pekka Salonen (2014).

Reich will be in residence at the Bienen School February 8-9, 2017 to work with student ensembles and composers and attend a concert of his music. The February 9 program features Reich’s Clapping MusicCity Life, and Music for 18 Musicians, conducted by Alan Pierson.

  • Alan Pierson