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Scored for standard rock band set-up, 2x5 was premiered on July 2, 2009, the opening night of the Manchester International Festival (MIF). Performed by Bang on a Can (BOAC), the work shared a double bill with German electronic music pioneers, Kraftwerk, and was commissioned by MIF in association with Casa da Música (Porto). In 2x5, Reich returns to the heavier rhythmic forms of his early days but expands his palate with rock instrumentation. Scored for two sets of five instruments (hence “2x5”), this 21-minute piece calls for four electric guitars, two pianos, two bass guitars, and two drum sets. Performers can either play the piece entirely live with ten musicians or with five live musicians against a pre-recorded tape, as BOAC did for the premiere.

— Steve Reich