Steve Reich has celebrated his 80th birthday with a special performance of his Grammy Award-winning composition Different Trains. A new film by Bill Morrison accompanied Reich’s music, made up of archival train footage taken during WWII. The event was presented by Liverpool promoters Metal, who were founded in 2002 by current Southbank Centre artistic director Jude Kelly.
Different Trains is a three movement piece for string quartet and tape, originally released in 1988. It makes use of both train sounds and recorded speech. Reich and Morrison said they hoped the audience would reflect on the huge social upheavals that occurred during and after WWII, and the role that railways played in these changes.
The music was performed on 29 September by London Contemporary Orchestra at Edge Hill Station in Liverpool as part of the Liverpool Biennial. It is the first time Reich’s celebrated composition has been paired up with a film.
Liverpool has a long history with railways: the first ever passenger train to travel between two cities went from Liverpool to Manchester from Edge Hill Station in September 1830.