At 80, Alumnus Terry Riley Is a Happy Man

Monday, June 22, 2015
Photo of Terry Riley

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -- The prolific and influential composer-performer turns 80 on Wednesday, a milestone that will be celebrated this weekend with a three-concert series by his longtime collaborators, the Kronos Quartet.

And in addition to his artistic legacy — a long and varied creative record that includes some of the most notable works in the history of minimalism and post-minimalism — Riley must hold some kind of record as the happiest and least stress-afflicted musician now working.

Instead of the Conservatory, Riley wound up at San Francisco State University, where his classmates included such prominent experimentalists as Pauline Oliveros and Loren Rush. After a brief sojourn in Europe, he returned to the Bay Area, and at the San Francisco Tape Music Center unveiled “In C.” That piece, a collection of 53 short melodic cells playable by any combination of instruments or voices, remains his most famous achievement.

Photo by Ivan Singer