Length: c. 16 minutes
Orchestration: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 vibraphones, 2 pianos, and strings
First Los Angeles Philharmonic performance: November 6, 2021, Susanna Mälkki conducting
About this Piece
Runner, for a large ensemble of winds, percussion, pianos, and strings, was completed in 2016 and is about 16 minutes in duration. While the tempo remains more or less constant, there are five movements, played without pause, that are based on different note durations. First, even sixteenths; then irregularly accented eighths; then a very slowed down version of the standard bell pattern from Ghana; fourth, a return to the irregularly accented eighths; and finally a return to the sixteenths but now played as pulses by the winds for as long as a breath will comfortably sustain them. The title was suggested by the rapid opening and my awareness that, like a runner, I would have to pace the piece to reach a successful conclusion. —Steve Reich
Runner received its world premiere on November 10, 2016, at the Royal Opera House, London, performed by the Royal Ballet, with choreography by Wayne McGregor.
“Runner’s most powerful innovation, though, is the way the composer keeps pulling melodic threads out of the instrumental texture and highlighting them as thematic material. This is the precise inverse of his more common technique of weaving dense pieces out of short gestural strands, and the effect is a potent about-face.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“The final part is set to Runner, a calmly luminous orchestral piece with the pulsating, propulsive rhythms that animate much of Mr. Reich’s music.” —New York Times