-disciple of Pandit Pran Nath

California composer and performer Terry Riley (b. 1935) is one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century. He launched what is now known as the Minimalist movement in music, one of the most pervasive trends in Western art music since 1945, with his revolutionary classic composition, In C in 1964. This seminal work provided a new concept in musical form based on interlocking repetitive patterns. Its impact was to change the course of 20th Century music. It is universally recognized as a watershed composition that preceded the work of composers such as Reich, Glass and Adams.

Back in 1970, Terry met and heard for the first time in performance, Pandit Pran Nath. Since then, he has dedicated much of his energy to traditional training in Indian classical vocal music under the guidance of the revered North Indian Raga Singer. Subsequently he became the singer's disciple and made the first of his numerous trips to India to travel with his Guruji and study this celestial art form. For the next 26 years, Terry appeared frequently in concert throughout the world with the legendary singer as tambura, tabla and vocal accompanist. Since Pran Nathji's passing in 1996, Terry performs Raga as a vocalist along with his teaching seminars and concert opportunities.

"He is one of the 1000 Makers of the 20th Century"

He is one of the few composers to be listed in the London Sunday Times as one of the "1000 Makers of the 20th Century". From the mid-sixties through the early 1980's, Terry's hypnotic multi-layered, polymetric, brightly orchestrated eastern flavored keyboard improvisations and compositions reached an international audience. Terry's recordings of this period, A Rainbow in Curved Air, Persian Surgery Dervishes, and Shri Camel are considered highly influential and important works having had a profound impact on popular music. This influence can be heard in the music of rock groups such as the Who, the Soft Machine, Tangerine Dream and other artists such as Brian Eno. While teaching at Mills College in Oakland in the 1970s, he met David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet and they began the long and fruitful association that has produced 12 string quartets (Cadenza on the Night Plain, Salome Dances for Peace and Requiem for Adam are available on CD), a quintet and a concerto for string quartet. Their newest and possibly most remarkable collaboration is The Sun Rings which the group is performing on their current tour. Terry regularly performs solo piano concerts (in both equal and just intonation) of new works and those from the past 30 years. He also performs with his own creative small ensembles of varying instrumentation that frequently include his son, Gyan Riley, on guitar, Italian bassist Stafano Scodanibio, saxophonist George Brooks and others. He cites his piano influences as Duane Hampton, Bill Evans, Art Tatum and Wally Rose.

Terry Riley biography © Terry Riley 2005. All Rights Reserved.