Drumming with Colin Currie

Hailed by Steve Reich as “one of the greatest musicians in the world today” (Herald Scotland), the Colin Currie Group, together with Synergy Vocals, brought their exciting version of Steve Reich’s seminal work ‘Drumming’ to Singapore in their first-ever live performance in Southeast Asia last night at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

“This group is bonded by the music. Ours is the generation that grew up with Reich’s music, and it’s been in our minds and hands since we were teenagers or earlier. The ensemble’s work provides us with the channel we desire to share our passion for his unique art, and to give our own take on it,” said Colin Currie, who is very proud of how the group has strengthened and developed over the years.

Yesterday’s program featured three ‘classics’ from Steve Reich’s repertoire, which were all from the early part of the 1970s.

“Drumming became the flagship work of my ensemble from its earliest performances in 2006, and we recently recorded the piece. This tour also therefore represents that milestone and also our statement about that music and how much it means to us. Audiences can expect mesmeric and hypnotic music of immensely uplifting vitality and drama!” Colin said.

The ensemble also performed Reich’s ‘Music for Pieces of Wood‘ and ‘Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ.’ All three works have been with the ensemble long enough to have accumulated that magical musical sheen of enduring and increasingly profound appeal.

“With Steve’s music, there are two key areas of attention required to make it work optimally – groove and accuracy. How the music ‘feels’, how it ‘swings’ is an essential part, and also a keen talking point – how much leeway do we have, how tight or how loose should each section be? And then the business of repetition in extremes – keeping your head whilst cycling round a pattern perhaps for a dozen minutes or more, will test the endurance of any player. Therein lies the magic though, if you can find it within you!” Colin explained.

To put up a concert like last night, it requires each player of the group to be an extremely good listener and highly reactive individual during their practices and on stage.

“We are very tight-knit, and all players are similar enough and also different enough to bring together a large, balanced whole. I am blessed with a highly professional team who always come fit and on form, ready to give out physically and mentally in our concerts. For me, it is a treat and I look forward keenly to these tours,’ Colin said.

“For young percussionists starting out, my best advice would be to devour as much music and hear as many live events as possible. Ideally, listen from as wide a range of music as you can search out – pop, jazz, folk, latin, classical and anything else around. That way you will get to know yourself, and this will be the key to how you find your way in what is a very large and sometimes dizzying business. In terms of your own craft, there are few, if any, substitutes for hard work too – practice really does pay off, but it’s a slow game. Be patient!”

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