Music for 18 Musicians CD Press Quotes
Press contact: Steven Swartz, dotdotdotmusic@gmail.com

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"... a really moving recording of the piece. A gorgeous and stunningly accurate CD of Music for 18 Musicians, from the heartland to the heart. Take a listen." --Steve Reich


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"...the GVSU players recently released their recording of Music for 18 Musicians on the independent label Innova. The result is a hyper-propulsive and yet silkily beautiful, entrancing and utterly alive interpretation that more than holds its own." --Anastasia Tsioulcas, Billboard Magazine

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Named on their top classical release list of 2007

"The music of Steve Reich has been eminently well served by his own ensemble and, partly as a result, largely dependent on it. For any who may have wondered whether future generations could uphold the standard, this magnificent student performance, hailed by Mr. Reich himself, should provide reassurance." --James Oestreich, The New York Times

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"The Michigan musicians play with glistening precision, yet they also bring out the variously jubilant and wistful emotions beneath the surface of Reich’s score. The result is a vibrant recording that deserves to leap from the new-music ghetto onto the mainstream charts." --Alex Ross, The New Yorker

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Top Ten Classical Recordings 2007

"The results are clearly audible in the sharp-edged, hugely energized playing on the Grand Valley State Music Ensemble’s new disc, on Innova, of Music for 18." --Alan Rich, LA Weekly

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• Soundcheck CD Pick of the Week
• Winner, Soundcheck Listener Poll, top classical release 2007
• Winner, New Sounds Listener Poll, top new release 2007
• Winner, Soundcheck Listener Poll, top classical release of the decade


"The story of the year in new music circles. Out in the farmlands of Allendale, Mich., Bill Ryan, the director of GVSU's new music group, decided to have his all-student, all-volunteer band learn to play Reich's 1976 masterwork—long considered one of the most challenging pieces in new music. It was a labor of love—intense, obsessive love—and they not only learned to play the piece, they learned to play it well." --John Schaefer, Soundcheck, WNYC

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"The latest recording (and one of the best) comes from a university setting (an outpost of nonindustrialized music-making), the Grand Valley (Mich.) State University New Music Ensemble." --David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer

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Top Ten Classical Music Stories 2007
Grand Valley State New Music Ensemble: Steve Reich, Music for Eighteen Musicians

"When a 1976 work became the obsession of a group at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, it was clear that New York had lost its exclusive on Steve Reich. After rehearsing for eight months, they not only came to Manhattan to perform but even recorded it. The result proves (1) that what one person hears as a caffeinated urban pulse, another hears as the rhythm of the flatlands, and (2) that a bunch of midwestern kids can play Reich better than he can." --Justin Davidson, New York Magazine







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Top Ten Classical Release 2007

"The neophytes spent the year practising, and now here it comes again, 30 years later, with a brighter, more urgent 21st-century sheen. The master personally approved this Next- Gen version, and the New York Times placed it on its Best of 2007 list." --Bill Reynolds, Calgary Herald


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"Justifiably proud of the performance the group presented on campus in November, Mr. Ryan sent recorded excerpts to friends. The effort paid dividends: Through the violinist Todd Reynolds, the ensemble was invited to play “Music for 18 Musicians” at the break of dawn during this year’s Bang on a Can Marathon in New York. The excerpts also helped secure a deal with the Innova label to issue a studio recording of the piece. Mr. Ryan has posted a slick promotional trailer for the disc on YouTube." --Steve Smith, The New York Times

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"The effect is mesmerizing, an hour’s worth of music that unfolds in gleaming washes of sound. Stick with it, and you’ll be rewarded. Michigan’s Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble plays the piece with effortless cohesion." --Donald Rosenberg, Cleveland Plain Dealer

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"I've had a chance to submerge myself again in this brilliant work thanks to a terrific, if unlikely, new recording from the Innova label. The Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble in Michigan is not your typical group of conservatory virtuosos, but, under the expert guidance of Bill Ryan, the players learned this complex, demanding score over a 14-week period last year, and learned it awfully well. They must have loved the challenge, given the kinetic, infectious charge of this vividly recorded performance." --Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun

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"It's a gorgeous rendering of Reich's work." --John Sinkevics, Grand Rapids Press


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"This new disc (a hybrid Super Audio CD, so it will play on usual CD players) comes with a rave by the composer himself, and it's easy to hear why. The Grand Valley State University's New Music Ensemble plays the heck out of this work. Rock-solid ensemble and vibrant phrasing. A must-hear, from beginning to end." --Andrew Drukenbrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


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Grade: A. --John Fleming, St. Petersburg Times

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Top Ten Classical Release 2007

"Steve Reich: "Music for 18 Musicians." Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble; Bill Ryan, director (Innova/Hybrid SACD) - What a relief; there's shelf life for new music! And here's the proof: This student ensemble, not from any kind of famous music school, has set down an excellent performance of this shimmering hourlong masterpiece of minimalism. Heretofore, the assumption has been that only a group of new-music specialists could summon the concentration and technical mastery to pull this off; apparently, what it really takes is commitment and love of the music." --Richard Scheinin, San Jose Mercury News

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Best of 2007

"...people are excited about the freshness being brought to the piece...I hear a lot more legato and lushness in this performance [compared to the original ECM recording] --Anne Midgette, Washington Post, on WNYC's Soundcheck


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Top Ten Classical Recording 2007

"#2. Steve Reich Music for 18 Musicians (Innova). Michigan’s Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble made a disc of the minimalist masterpiece that won the composer’s approval." --Steve Smith, Time Out New York

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Top Ten Classical Recording 2007

"...a recording that easily holds its own with the classic ECM and Nonesuch originals." --Editorial Staff, Rhapsody

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"...a splendid performance...Innova's Steve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians featuring Bill Ryan and the GVSU New Music Ensemble makes clear that some new music ensembles in the "hinterlands" are just as accomplished as their brethren in cities like New York, San Francisco or Chicago. It also sheds some light on possible variability within a piece that one would think would not allow for much variability at all. Well done, GVSU!" --All Music Guide

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Top Five Classical Recordings of the Decade

"This recording may well have been classical music’s story of the year in 2007: a group of students and volunteers from the farmlands of western Michigan decides to take on one of the most important and challenging works of the late 20th century. And to the amazement of critics, listeners, the composer and perhaps even the musicians themselves, the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble actually pulls it off." --eMusic

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"It may well be the most revealing yet of 18's manifold rhythmic and harmonic niceties...Mainly though, it's the quality of the performance itself that is most potently insinuating. Lightness of texture is a hallmark of the blends realized under Ryan's direction, with a genuine feeling that these are real individual musicians listening empathetically to one another...An 18 for the new millennium? You got it." --Terry Blain, MUSO










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"Music for 18 Musicians is a perfect introduction to the minimalist sound. Reich himself loves this ensemble's playing, describing it as "gorgeous and stunningly accurate''. High praise thoroughly deserved." --Greg Barns, The Mercury (Australia)

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"The Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble of Allendale, Michigan offer a revelatory new performance of Steve Reich's 1978 masterpiece." --Barnes and Noble Review

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"This performance of Steve Reich’s minimalist classic by the new music ensemble of the obscure Midwestern university Grand Valley State is astonishingly clear and precise—it’s not easy to maintain one’s concentration over the course of a piece this long and repetitive—and the mix by Silas Brown and ensemble director Bill Ryan pulls out the most colorful threads from Reich’s tapestry." --Charlie Wilmoth, Signal to Noise

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"...they lived inside the work for a year, conceiving an interpretation that reflected their own, non-New York City-based perception of it. Perhaps as a result, the edgy, sharp-focussed sound the music had in the composer's own inaugural account relaxes here into an interpretation that yields nothing to it in terms of virtuosity, but that sounds more exuberant and joyful...Of the three recorded versions of Music for 18 Musicians that I have heard, this one and two by the composer himself (there are several others), this GVSU performance is the one I would reach for first." --Ung-Aang Talay, Bangkok Post

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"...And the result? I'm happy (and relieved) to say- - excellent. I've listened with a head-to-head comparison with Reich's own premiere recording (of many years back) on ECM, and the differences are really only matters of interpretation...The difference comes from the fact that the Michiganers seem to "swing" the music a bit more, and one feels the large-scale background progressions a little more strongly...Above all, I marvel that here we have young people taking on a work that caused excitement and consternation about 30 years ago. After almost exactly one generation it's clear that this is a masterpiece that can stand different interpretations and gets easier to understand and perform with the passage of time. Kind of gives you hope. Bravo to all concerned." --Robert Carl, Fanfare Magazine

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"What an unexpected musical and audiophile treat! Comparison with the original Nonesuch CD showed little musical differences...overall both performances were almost identical, except that the addition of the hi-res surround - putting the players all around you - adds 100% to the musical experience. The work, full of Reich’s patented playing around with phasing effects, builds very slowly in instrumentation, complexity and jazziness. The woodwinds come in strong at track 8 and things really swing; the entrance of the maracas at track 6 is another major moment in the work. Everything is so much more transparent and impactful on the new SACD. It makes it much less likely to get on the nerves of anti-Minimalists. This is a New Music must-have!" --John Sunier, Audiophile Audition

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"...a round of applause for the Grand Valley State University's New Music Ensemble for their brilliantly self-marketed and fantastically performed recording of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians." --Albert Imperato, Gramophone Magazine online journal

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"Their reading of it is pristine, almost stoic...On the new recording, Ryan pushes the pulse without pounding it, focusing primarily on the mathematical juxtapositions." --Kurt Gottschalk, The Squid's Ear Magazine

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"A lively, robust performance...it's not so much a celebration of this work as a well-deserved and precisely enacted continuation of its life span." --Dave Heaton, Big Takeover








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"This band of university students and volunteers honed their performance to such a high level they stunned audiences--including the critic for the New York Times--at the Bang On a Can Festival...Comparison with the original Nonesuch CD shows few musical differences and this SACD puts the players all around you--adding 100 percent to the musical experience--and the sound is more transparent and impactful. A 'New Music' must have!" --John Sunier, Australian Hi-Fi







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"With a composition like this, the mix also becomes an equal part of defining the overall soundscape, and Ryan and co-editor/producer Silas Brown do a marvelous job in spreading the sound across a three-dimensional aural landscape, making it an even greater trance-inducing experience than Reich's 1978 original." --John Kelman, All About Jazz