Steve Reich’s Different Trains is a seminal work of late 20th century American musical style and expression. Reich mines his experience riding trains cross-country during the Second World War in the upbeat opening, but soon his thoughts turn to the experience of his Jewish compatriots in Europe at the same time. The journey is dark, but at the end of the tunnel is music that embodies the optimism and energy of Post-War America.
Reich built the music from imitations of his family and friend’s speech, weaving the music of their voices into the very fabric of the quartet. The quartet performs live with both the tape of their voices as well as three pre-recorded quartets, creating a rich musical texture that engages with a deeply personal sense of history. Past programs have paired this piece with such works as Dvorak’s American Quartet and new works which build on the fascinating minimalist energy and textures of Reich’s work.