Performers from the London Contemporary Orchestra present Steve Reich’s Different Trains on the 30th anniversary of its premiere.
Reich’s meditation on the Holocaust was first performed in Queen Elizabeth Hall in November 1988. It is revisited here shortly after the reopening of the refurbished building.The ensemble has also appeared in Southbank Centre’s Meltdown festival and our popular Deep Minimalism weekend.Written for string quartet and tape, Different Trains was the piece in which Reich developed his earlier use of recorded speech into a new musical approach. Its melodies emerge from the taped reminiscences of Reich’s governess, an American Pullman porter and three Holocaust survivors.The work’s three movements examine the experience of war from different perspectives, moving from America in the years before the war, to Europe during the war, to the aftermath for survivors.Reich was inspired by train journeys he’d made between the homes of his divorced parents as a child; later he realised that had he grown up in Europe, he might have found himself travelling on a Holocaust train.The piece is accompanied by a video artwork by Bill Morrison, a New York-based filmmaker who is well known for his powerful artistic reworking of historical footage. It brings to life the world of Different Trains, including pre-war footage of the American railroad and harrowing film of people on European trains during the war.‘This is cinema as art, and a classic’ (LA Weekly on Bill Morrison’s 2013 film The Great Flood.
London Contemporary Orchestra Soloists Bryce Dessner electric guitar
Bryce Dessner: Aheym for string quartetMica Levi: You belong to me for string quartetSteve Reich: Electric Counterpoint for electric guitar & tapeIntervalSteve Reich: Different trains for string quartet & tape accompanied by a video artwork by Bill Morrison