Have California’s modernist composers become hip? There’s Steve Reich popping up on Pitchfork Media and at South By Southwest last March (interviewed by Thurston Moore!). There’s John Adams’ new memoir and its attendant “He’s Everywhere!” press tour (replete with controversial comments and the Met’s staging of his Oppenheimer opera “Doctor Atomic“.
Out here in L.A., there was the recent performances of the music of Lou Harrison, John Cage, Terry Riley and Harry Partch by the Santa Monica new music series Jacaranda; next month the Walt Disney Concert Hall will present the L.A. Master Chorale’s performance of Harrison’s La Koro Sutro paired with Chinary Ung’s two-part Spiral XII: Space Between Heaven and Earth. Hmmm, we are only left with the speculation of why this is happening: hipster fans of Sonic Youth and Deerhoof beginning to seek out their heroes’ heroes? Alex Ross, single-handedly? Hmmmm. We submit this: These guys not only have been subverting musical forms since Back in the Day, they have been offering a continuous commentary on the internal rot of American culture since before the Hippies, the Punks, the Beats, the Indie Politikers, the Noise rockers — something the young ‘uns are perhaps just starting to realize.