Date(s) - 05/02/2015
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
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Thollem McDonas: Solo Piano at the Cowell Theater – part of a 3-concert tribute to Terry Riley and his 80th birthday
Thollem McDonas has been delving into the piano, excavating depths of sound and energy for 48 years. His spontaneous compositions unfold in the moment influenced by his experiences both with the piano and away from it, and at times, within it. The seeds of his work come from near and far: studies as a concert pianist, collaboration, political and ecological activism, teaching, perpetual travel. This adventurous music engages the imagination differently from moment to moment with a stream of unique musical worlds influenced by the individual piano itself, the concert hall, the audience, the previous two concerts of the weekend and the honor of participating in the celebration of Terry Riley’s birth 80 years ago. It is music for the mind and the body, designed to encourage respect for the unpredictability of the present moment, with curiosity and openness in the context of time and events.
Since 2006, Thollem McDonas has been traveling perpetually, performing his own compositions from San Francisco to Oaxaca to Sicily to Stockholm to New Orleans and onward. “Brilliant, bursting pearls in the astonished air” (Signal To Noise), Thollem’s music “transgresses genre boundaries as much as it transcends them” (All About Jazz NY), making him “one of the most captivating pianists working today.” (Jazz.pt – Portugal) Terry Riley is among the leading avant-garde composers of the contemporary era. A Northern Californian by birth, he studied at S.F. State and earned his Masters at U.C. Berkeley. He came to prominence at one of the critical incubators of modern music, San Francisco’s Tape Music Center, working with Steve Reich, Morton Subotnick, and Pauline Oliveros. His work is deeply influenced by Indian classical music and jazz.
About his work, Terry Riley notes that Thollem “inhabits a world uniquely his own, rhythmically, harmonically and formally. A true original.”