Roger Reynolds

Roger Reynolds composed this piece performed by the Jack Quartet. Enjoy the a trailer for FLiGHT for NWEAMO 2020

PROGRAM NOTE:  The video shown at NWEAMO 2020 is a trailer for an 80 minute immersive work.
For complete information on FLiGHT please visit:

Concept, music, text assemblage: ROGER REYNOLDS
Visual materials and projection design: ROSS KARRE
Audio materials and sound design: PAUL HEMBREE
Dedicated to and commissioned by JACK Quartet

FLiGHT: An Introduction by Thomas May

“The natural function of the wing is to soar upwards and carry that which is heavy up to the place where dwells the race of gods,” observes Socrates in the Phaedrus, one of the greatest of Plato’s dialogues. “More than any other thing that pertains to the body [the wing] partakes of the nature of the divine.” FLiGHT as a dream, a metaphor, and — within a mere blip of the span of human history — a reality: this embodies a fundamental human aspiration that has inspired visionaries across the spectrum, from scientists and philosophers to poets, painters, and, of course, musicians.

Conceived by the pioneering American composer Roger Reynolds, the project titled FLiGHT involves a multidimensional reflection on and engagement with this topic in the form of a full-length immersive artistic experience. FLiGHT, according to Reynolds “responds to the varieties of human experience with FLiGHT: gods, angels and demons, dreams, birds, kites, balloons, gliders, powered FLiGHT, and space exploration.” 

Completing its journey at the Park Avenue Armory, FLiGHT culminates in a performance event lasting about 80 minutes and synthesizing a wide span of performance components: an acoustical musical composition (a four-movement string quartet), other sound material, the interactive involvement of four actors voicing texts drawn from several millennia and several different cultures on the subject of FLiGHT, and a web of visual imagery that will be projected onto 30 2 x 2 foot boxes that are reoriented by the quartet members as the performance develops. The quartet members also employ Foley sound devices during the media sections. The process of creation has lasted over three years. FLiGHT is an undertaking that in a sense updates the Gesamtkunstwerk for the hyper-technical 21st century. 

Roger Reynolds, biography

Updated 23 February 2020Roger Reynolds is known for his integration of diverse ideas and resources, and for seamlessly blending traditional musical sounds and those now enabled by technology. His work responds to texts both poetic (Beckett, Borges, Ashbery) and mythological (Aeschylus, Euripides, Heraclitus). He is noted for “wizardry in sending music flying through space: whether vocal, instrumental, or computerized”. In 1969, Reynolds accepted a tenured appointment to UC San Diego and has helped establish its Music Department as a destination program. Reynolds won early recognition with Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Institute of Arts and Letters Awards, as well as several grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, and a Fellowship from the Institute for Current World Affairs. In 1989, he won the Pulitzer Prize in Music for the string orchestra composition, Whispers Out of Time. His over 100 compositions are published by Edition Peters, New York; several dozen CDs and DVDs of his music have been commercially released. He is author or four books and numerous articles, some of them the result of collaborations with American, Canadian, and French scientists. Other collaborators have been choreographers Lucinda Childs and Bill T. Jones, as well as theater directors Tadashi Suzuki and Tina Parker. His performer partners have included Irvine Arditti, The Arditti Quartet, Steven Schick, Yuji Takahashi, Alexis Descharmes, Pablo Gómez Cano, Anthony Burr, Eric Hueber, and Jacqueline Leclair. In 2009 Reynolds was appointed University Professor — the first artist to be so honored in the University of California. In 1998, the Library of Congress established a Special Collection of his work. His scores and correspondence are also included in the Paul Sacher Collection in Basel. Reynolds has held guest appointments at Harvard, Yale, Amherst, Unniversity of Illinois, and CUNY.

Library of Congress Collection