Sarah Cahill celebrates Terry Riley

I first met Sarah Cahill back in 1995, when I was teaching at Sarah Lawrence College. I was sitting in the lobby of the music building, and she came out from one of the practice rooms. Somehow we got to talking, and it turned out that she was involved in a concert at the college that evening featuring women composers and performers. I hadn’t known about the concert before, but I decided to stay and hear it. While I don’t remember the program’s full contents, three things stuck out. One was Ilana Vered playing the bejeezuz out of a work by Laura Kaminsky. The second was Myra Melford digging into an Otis Spann blues. And the third was Sarah’s amazing performance of Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Study in Mixed Accents. I was supposed to play the Crawford in concert a few months later, but after hearing Sarah’s interpretation I quickly dropped it from my repertoire.

Later on I realized that Sarah and I had many mutual friends and colleagues, and if I mention them all I’ll sound like a shameless name dropper. My new music organization ComposersCollaborative, Inc. presented Sarah several times in concert. In turn, she brought me out to Berkeley to perform, and has graciously invited me as a guest on her various radio shows over the years.

Happily Sarah’s New York appearances have become more frequent. She’ll be at Le Poisson Rouge Thursday January 29th for a special event celebrating one of America’s most significant and uplifting composers. A Piano Party for Terry Riley at 80 pays tribute to Terry’s influence with the New York premieres of new solo piano pieces written in honor of his eightieth birthday by Samuel Carl Adams, Evan Ziporyn, Pauline Oliveros, Gyan Riley, Christine Southworth, Dylan Mattingly, and Danny Clay, together works by the grand master himself.
The concert is a co-production between LPR and Q2 Music Presents. It will be recorded by Q2 music and archived at

To get the full scope of Sarah’s remarkable musical life and her contributions to new music, visit And also check out her recent CD releases, including the hauntingly beautiful two disc set devoted to Mamoru Fujieda’s piano cycle Patterns of Plants: read David Hurwitz’s review here:

Hope to see you at LPR on January 29th!


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