Synergy represented by

Left to right: Amanda Morrison, Micaela Haslam, Julia Batchelor, Katy Hill

“Having worked with London Sinfonietta on their first Music for 18 Musicians (without conductor) in April 2008, we were delighted to be involved in this re-run with the man himself – Steve Reich. Fortunately, we had most of last year’s players – crucially Tim Palmer on vibraphone and Tim Lines (cue-meister) on 1st clarinet. New to the team were David Alberman (violin) – who had played the piece before; Oliver Coates (cello) – an absolute delight to work with; Sam Walton (perc) – who we’d worked with before on Drumming; Duncan Prescott (cl 2) – who could simply follow Tim Lines for cues; and Oliver Lowe – our extra percussionist.

Tim Lines, Duncan & Katy

It was my job to oversee rehearsals. I’d coached Music for 18 on several occasions, but never with Steve playing. After a couple of rehearsals without Steve, he was able to slot into an extremely tight ensemble, and I could see straight away that he was delighted with Sinfonietta’s rendition of the piece. It had quite a different character from that of Steve Reich & Musicians or Ensemble Modern, and that’s as it should be. Music for 18 really is a piece that each ensemble can “make their own” – apologies for the X-Factor cliché!

Alex & Neil on marimbas 1 & 2 - deep in concentration

Rehearsing in Festival Hall

It’s such a treat to work with these players. After several projects together, this was like a get-together with a bunch of old mates. The marvellous Sarah Holmes kept us all on track as usual, so we could just enjoy the ride.

The whole team

We’d known for some time that the Royal Festival Hall was completely sold out for this concert. Friends of mine had been calling the box office for weeks trying to get returns, but sadly there weren’t any. The Clore Ballroom, set for Steve’s post-concert talk, was also packed to capacity. This was a really exciting event on the South Bank; Steve is such a pop star these days, and I feel extremely privileged to have worked so closely with him for such a long time. The first half of the concert went to Bang-on-a-Can with Clapping Music, Sextet and Electric Counterpoint. Then came our Music for 18 which went down a storm. It’s not often you get a standing ovation in RFH for a “contemporary classical music” concert, but everyone was on their feet. There was an amazing atmosphere in the hall.

Julia, Steve & Mandy

Taking a bow

Steve later described this concert to me as the best of his music he’d ever heard at the South Bank. It’s wonderful that a UK ensemble finally has Music for 18 firmly in their repertoire, and I’m quite sure that there will be many more performances by this team in future. Watch this space…”


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