I'm old enough to remember the outrage triggered more than 40 years ago by the inclusion of a concert by the modernist rock group Soft Machine at the BBC Proms.
But time brings a different perspective on the way history fits together, and in the case of Steve Reich, one of a handful of living composers who has altered the direction of musical history, and whose music shares some elements with 70s progressive rock, a composing lifetime largely spent underground, is now definitely over ground.
This all Reich evening seemed a cross between a classical concert and a rock event, with a predominantly young audience.
Electric Counterpoint received a flowing, and energetic performance from guitarist Mats Bergström. Earnest at first as he matched his swirling lines with the intricate canons of his other, pre-recorded, selves, he unbent as the cumulative power of the piece took hold, moving around the stage as he exulted in the power chords which appear just before the pulsating conclusion.
The latest work, Radio Rewrite, for chamber ensemble, based on two songs by Radiohead seems to show a further development in Reich’s humanisation of the sometimes stark and cold patterns of Minimalism especially in the two slower movements, as fragments of the song Everything drifted in and out.
The 2009 Pulitzer prize-winning Double Sextet was the highlight, performed here with two ‘live’ sextets. Quintessential Reich with its ceaseless activity and cross-cuts of mood, a remarkable slow movement full of memorable scoring and an unusual mood of melancholic dance, and a finale full of optimism.
The sell-out audience cheered the composer to the rafters, and I, along with many others, left with a smile on my face.