Preview: “Drums Downtown IX”

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From the February 23, 2012 edition

Steve Reich: so hot right now. The minimalist — considered by many to be the greatest living composer — has been astounding ears and garnering praise from classical music audiences since the mid-1960s. With the recent buzz about his forthcoming Radiohead-inspired composition, he’s gaining much-deserved indie cred too.

Reich is in such high demand that it’s a rare treat for professional musicians, let alone music students, to catch a chance to work with him. Lucky for its students, Ohio State snagged him for a residency, and he’s helping the school’s percussionists prepare an all-Reich program for this year’s “Drums Downtown.”

During the annual show at the Riffe Center, OSU dance students will perform while members of the OSU Percussion Ensemble build rhythmic layers on instruments such as the marimba and bongos. Often fairly simple patterns are phased in and out of each other to create new rhythms.

“Minimalist music is, at its core, about the rhythm,” explained Susan Powell, co-director of the percussion ensemble.

Also making appearances in this year’s show: a handful of woodwind and string players, and a 3D computer animation by OSU design professor Alan Price.