23 April 2009

Terry Riley

You may recognize Terry Riley as the guy with the last name that was borrowed for The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” or you might know him as one of the greatest minimalist composers of the last half of the 20th century or you may just have the audacity to recognize him as that one guy with that stunning beard.

Like the composition In C, Riley’s beard is comprised of several individual elements amassed to create a lush landscape that builds methodically and tirelessly until an epic masterpiece emerges.

The breadth the thick, uninhibited barbus maximus of Riley’s youth is stunning. And now, the tumbling torrent of tresses and successive tributaries surge forth, imbued with a sagacity perceptible from miles away. Riley’s is a truly brilliant beard.

Serving to keep his plate clear of rogue hairs, to tickle his chest, to embrace a novel fashion or perhaps just for giggles, Riley posits an impressive braid. This stark contrast to the heap above playfully swoops down to a curly pig’s tail coda. What better conclusion is there for such a magnum opus?

Update: This Friday, April 24, Carnegie Hall will host a concert celebrating the 45th anniversary of Terry Riley’s landmark experimental work In C. The National's Bryce Dessner will join a lineup of out-music royalty that includes Philip Glass, the Kronos Quartet, Morton Subotnick, Trevor Dunn, So Percussion, and Riley himself to perform the work. { Pitchfork }

Update: Photo from rehearsals with the Kronos Quartet.