Different Trains

Music by Steve Reich

Choreography by Lauren Guynes

Different Trains, for String Quartet and pre-recorded performance tape, begins a new way of composing that has its roots in my early tape pieces It’s Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966). The basic idea is that carefully chosen speech recordings generate the musical materials for musical instruments.

The idea for the piece came from my childhood. When I was one year old my parents separated. My mother moved to Los Angeles and my father stayed in New York. Since they arranged divided custody, I travelled back and forth by train frequently between New York and Los Angeles from 1939 to 1942 accompanied by my governess. While the trips were exciting and romantic at the time I now look back and think that, if I had been in Europe during this period, as a Jew I would have had to ride very different trains. With this in mind I wanted to make a piece that would accurately reflect the whole situation. In order to prepare the tape I did the following:

Record my governess Virginia, then in her seventies, reminiscing about our train trips together.
Record a retired Pullman porter, Lawrence Davis, then in his eighties, who used to ride lines between New York and Los Angeles, reminiscing about his life.
Collect recordings of Holocaust survivors Rachella, Paul and Rachel, all about my age and then living in America—speaking of their experiences.
Collect recorded American and European train sounds of the ‘30s and ‘40s.

In order to combine the taped speech with the string instruments I selected small speech samples that are more or less clearly pitched and then notated them as accurately as possible in musical notation.

The strings then literally imitate that speech melody. The speech samples as well as the train sounds were transferred to tape with the use of sampling keyboards and a computer. Three separate string quartets are also added to the pre-recorded tape and the final live quartet part is added in performance.

Different Trains is in three movements (played without pause), although that term is stretched here since tempos change frequently in each movement. They are:
America—Before the war
Europe—During the war
After the war

The piece thus presents both a documentary and a musical reality and begins a new musical direction. It is a direction that I expect will lead to a new kind of documentary music video theatre in the not too distant future.

— Steve Reich

Steve Reich has been called “the most original musical thinker of our time” (The New Yorker), and “among the great composers of the century” (The New York Times). Starting in the 1960s, his pieces It’s Gonna RainDrummingMusic for 18 MusiciansTehillimDifferent Trains, and many others helped shift the aesthetic center of musical composition worldwide away from extreme complexity and towards rethinking pulsation and tonal attraction in new ways. He continues to influence younger generations of composers and mainstream musicians and artists all over the world.

Double Sextet won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 and Different TrainsMusic for 18 Musicians, and an album of his percussion works have all earned GRAMMY Awards. He received the Praemium Imperiale in Tokyo, the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm, the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge award in Madrid, the Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall, and the Gold Medal in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has been named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France, and awarded honorary doctorates by the Royal College of Music in London, the Juilliard School in New York, and the Liszt Academy in Budapest, among others.

One of the most frequently choreographed composers, several noted choreographers have created dances to his music, including Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Jirí Kylián, Jerome Robbins, Justin Peck, Wayne McGregor, Benjamin Millepied, and Christopher Wheeldon.

Reich’s documentary video opera works—The Cave and Three Tales, done in collaboration with video artist Beryl Korot—opened new directions for music theater and have been performed on four continents. His work Quartet, for percussionist Colin Currie, sold out two consecutive concerts at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London shortly after tens of thousands at the Glastonbury Festival heard Jonny Greenwood (of Radiohead) perform Electric Counterpoint, followed by the London Sinfonietta performing his Music for 18 Musicians. “There’s just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them,” The Guardian.

Lauren Guynes is a dancer, choreographer, and educator from Terry, MS. She currently resides in New Orleans, LA where she is a company member of the Marigny Opera Ballet.  Lauren is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg with a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography.  She has performed the works of USM’s Repertory Dance Company, Hub Dance Collective, the Marigny Opera Ballet, De La Soul Dance Company, and fellow choreographers throughout the Gulf Coast, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City on stage, on film, and in unexpected site-specific locations.  Lauren has presented her own work for the Marigny Opera Ballet, the Repertory Dance Company in Hattiesburg, MS, and Coast Dance Fest in Ocean Springs, MS.  She has also served as movement director and choreographer for Disney’s “Secrets of Sulphur Springs” and “Ultraviolet & Black Scorpion.”  Lauren has found a home among the artists in New Orleans, and she is grateful for each and every opportunity spent creating, collaborating, educating, and performing.

Born in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, Cassidy Fulmer earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. At Marymount, she was selected to join the MMC Dance Company, and performed repertoire with several companies such as Trey McIntyre Project, Cedar Lake, Battleworks Dance Company, and Abraham in Motion. She received a Marymount Manhattan Gold Key award which named her the top performer in the Ballet Concentration. More projects include: Dior’s 2019 Campaign Party, Park Avenue Armory’s Gala, Move Society’s fall clothing launch commercial and many more. Cassidy is currently based in New Orleans, where she is a freelance dancer and instructor. She is also a guest artist with LED Dance Company in Boise, Idaho.

Lauren Ashlee Messina, M.F.A. (she/her) is a Big Easy Award-winning dance choreographer with a heart for community. Lauren has developed her career in the Greater New Orleans area in collaboration with the Marigny Opera Ballet, KM Dance Project, the New Orleans Opera, ELLEvate Dance Company, and the CAC New Orleans as a 2022 Performing Artist-in-Residence. Her choreography has been performed at the New York Jazz Choreography Project, the 92nd Street Y, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and the Mississippi Museum of Art. Lauren received the Ailey School’s Oprah Winfrey Foundation Scholarship and participated in the pilot program, Moving Toward Justice Open Workshop, at Gibney Dance. She is a 2023 Platforms Fund grant recipient and host of The Parent Artist Podcast on YouTube.

Joshua P. Bell was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Clinton, Mississippi. These two are very different yet oddly similar. The Midwest, deep south, and everything in-between dictates much of what he enjoys creating. He graduated from Belhaven University with a B.A. in Dance. Much of his career has led him to perform in dance and theatre companies, music videos, as well as television and film. Poetry, fashion, painting, and music inform his creative process. His focused medium is dance and movement. Community building and understanding history are his passions. Knowing where he comes from and pursuing that information guides him. As he moves forward in the world he intends to continue researching dance and movement as it relates to his personal history.

Catherine Matushek is originally from Pittsburgh, PA, where she started playing viola at age 8 through her public school. She moved to New Orleans in 2015, and became a full-time member of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in 2019. Catherine was previously a member of the Erie Philharmonic, Firelands Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Pops Orchestra, and CityMusic Cleveland Chamber Orchestra. She has also performed with the Canton, Mobile, Gulf Coast, and Pensacola Symphony Orchestras.

Catherine completed her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Jeffrey Irvine and Lynne Ramsey. She has received chamber music coaching from members of the Cavani, Cleveland, Juilliard, and Takács Quartets. She is also a member of the New Orleans-based Radio Bird Quartet, a non-traditional string quartet that performs original arrangements of pop and rock tunes.

A committed educator, Catherine studied Suzuki pedagogy at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She has taught at the Cleveland School of the Arts, the Sato Center for Suzuki Studies, as a teaching assistant at CIM, and for El Sistema-inspired programs in Cleveland and New Orleans. She currently teaches 17 private violin and viola students aged 5-16, and is the lead teacher for the LPO’s Music for Life program. Catherine lives in Gentilly with her husband, Michael, and their cats, Clover and Percy. She enjoys cooking, playing video games, practicing yoga, and fostering kittens for the Louisiana SPCA.

Before moving to New Orleans, Gabrielle Fischler was a co-founding member of the conductorless string orchestra Palaver Strings, which is committed to diversifying the accessibility of classical music and promoting social justice and human welfare through cross-collaboration of the arts and unconventional partnerships. She currently works as a teaching artist and freelancer in the greater New Orleans area, serving on the faculty at the Ellis Marsalis Center. Gabrielle also serves as the Community Director of Lyrica Baroque where she helps facilitate arts integration projects built to enhance social-emotional learning, as well as projects such as NOLA Chamber Fest, a chamber music festival for young aspiring musicians and community members. In April 2018, Gabrielle helped launch the New Orleans chapter of Groupmuse, an organization dedicated to fostering and building community through art and classical music house concerts.

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