World renowned Terry Riley to be honored at concert with Kronos Quartet | TheUnion.com
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World renowned Terry Riley to be honored at concert with Kronos Quartet

He is a man who was born in Colfax 70 years ago. Now he divides his time between Camptonville, not far up Highway 49, and the San Francisco Bay Area. In the intervening years, Terry Riley has become a composer of worldwide repute, often called the father of the minimalist movement (though he says he doesn’t much like that term or classifications in general), the precursor to new age music.

His genius is such that groups like the renowned Kronos Quartet from San Francisco play his music everywhere, including here in Grass Valley as part of the Music in the Mountains Summer Fest.

When reached at his home recently, Riley said he is really looking forward to the June 11 concert because “Kronos has been in Europe performing my ‘Cusp of Magic,’ which premiered less than a month ago, so I’m interested in seeing how it has developed.”



Having collaborated with the quartet for over 25 years, Riley has a deep bond with its members and is looking forward to the party that follows the concert. But this party is one of half a dozen taking place in his honor at music festivals in Norway, Italy, here in California at UC-Berkeley and UC-Davis, and at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.

Riley says he uses his Camptonville home as a “voluntary retreat” a couple of times a month. Because he just finished “Cusp of Magic,” he says he’s not working on composing something new, only teaching and practicing Indian classical music, a special love of his. How does 70 feel? “Good, so far. I’m thankful I have good health and energy. In fact, I still feel like I’m 35 or so.”




A modest man, he attributes his success to the fact that “I just keep working at it and finally have an accumulation of work” – some work that, although done in the ’60s and ’70s, “is like what’s going on today,” he says. “A lot of young people are beginning to notice it. The Internet is good because people can look you up and see.”


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