'Minimalism Is History Now': Bang on a Can and Minimalism in the Late Twentieth Century

When and Where

Thursday, March 09, 2023 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm
Room 130
Edward Johnson Building
80 Queen's Park


William Robin


Musicology, Ethnomusicology and Music Theory Graduate Colloquium Series

William Robin, Associate Professor of Musicology at the University of Maryland’s School of Music, presents "'Minimalism Is History Now': Bang on a Can and Minimalism in the Late Twentieth Century."

Room 130, Edward Johnson Building, 80 Queen's Park, Toronto


All colloquia take place from 3:30 to 5 pm, unless otherwise noted, with a reception to follow from 5 to 6 pm.

“Minimalism is history now,” the composer Michael Gordon said in a 1997 interview, reflecting on how the avant-garde musical style, though once controversial, had become widely recognized. “Certainly there are still people walking around saying that minimalism is not serious music, but I think that that’s already history,” he concluded. Gordon himself played a significant role in helping minimalism become “serious music.” In 1987, with composers David Lang and Julia Wolfe, he co-founded Bang on a Can, a freewheeling contemporary music marathon held in downtown New York, which by the late 1990s grew into a multi-faceted organization with its own ensemble, a series of successful records, and a residency at Lincoln Center. Since its beginnings, Bang on a Can foregrounded minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass, as well as minimalist-influenced music by the founders’ peers and contemporaries. In analyzing Bang on a Can’s relationship to minimalism, this talk examines what happens to a musical style as it is historicized, by looking at who historicizes it: the cultural intermediaries who curated, revived, and marketed minimalism, and thus reshaped its meaning at the turn of the twenty-first century.

Contact Information


Faculty of Music


80 Queen's Park