Dark Queen Mantra

Music of Terry Riley featuring guitarist Gyan Riley

The center of this program is Dark Queen Mantra, a quintet commissioned, premiered, and recorded by Del Sol and Gyan in 2015 in honor of Terry’s 80th Birthday.  Never one to be hemmed in by convention, Terry continued composing additional movements since then – his music keeps growing like a river.

Dark Queen Mantra is available as on all-Riley concert including his rarely played The Wheel & Mythic Birds Waltz, or in mixed programs chosen from music by Stefano Scodanibbio, Ben Johnston, Chinary Ung, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Huang Ruo, and Gabriela Lena Frank.

The all-Riley program includes:

Terry Riley: G Song (1980)
Terry Riley: Dark Queen Mantra (2015)
Terry Riley: The Wheel & Mythic Birds Waltz (1983)

The mixed program is chosen from:

Stefano Scodanibbio: Mas Lugares (2003)
Ben Johnston: String no. 10 (1995)
Huang Ruo: Calligraffiti (2009)
Gabriela Lena Frank: new quartet (2017)
Chinary Ung: Spiral X (for amplified string quartet & vocalizations)
Ruth Crawford Seeger: Quartet (1931


an all-Riley Del Sol Trailer

The Wheel & Mythic Bird Waltz

Dark Queen Mantra


World famous composer Terry Riley “has become a totemic presence in music over the past half-century: a pioneer of minimalism, a godfather of sampling and ambient house, and a shamanic hero to a generation of hipsters” (The Guardian) Renowned for his groundbreaking works including In C and Rainbow in Curved Air, the influence of his hypnotic multilayered compositions is heard across the span of contemporary and popular music.  

Gyan Riley is a one-man American-music machine, amicably ranging across the fields of jazz, world music, and post-minimalism.” (The New Yorker)


About Dark Queen Mantra:

Del Sol violist Charlton Lee first met guitarist Gyan Riley while playing in an ensemble led by the composer/bassist Gavin Bryars. When Del Sol asked Gyan’s father, Terry Riley, to write a new work in his 80th birth year, this quintet became the perfect way to renew their collaboration.Movement one “Vizcaino” is named for the hotel in Algeciras where Riley first stayed upon his arrival in the Spain. The music starts out with a distinctively Spanish rhythmic motive that plays with shifting groupings and irregular accents. When asked about the title of the second movement, Riley explained that he was thinking of Francisco Goya’s paintings. Then the music begins to take flight and grow fast and fluttery —“Goya with Wings.” The final movement (“Dark Queen Mantra”) explores a heavier and more insistent groove. As Riley says, “it gets dark.”

Dark Queen Mantra was commissioned for the Del Sol String Quartet by the Del Sol Performing Arts Organization, with the generous support of the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, and the Fleishhacker Foundation. It was released on the 2017 Sono Luminus Album “Dark Queen Mantra.”

About the Wheel & Mythic Birds Waltz:

Although best known for his groundbreaking minimalist composition In C, Terry Riley continues to explore a highly personal musical path that draws on his fascination with improvisation, jazz, and Indian classical music. Mythic Birds Waltz never actually breaks into a waltz. Instead it views an Indian tabla pattern through a kaleidoscope of possibilities, gently shifting the meter to dance in new ways. Sometimes the music surges forward with melodic invention and sometimes it is content to linger looping in eddies.

About Stefano Scodannibio:

Stefano Scodanibbio, contrabass soloist and composer, was a brilliant inventor of new musical possibilities, virtuoso performer, and phenomenal improviser. A frequent collaborator with Terry Riley, he also worked with the major figures of the European avant-garde including Iannis Xenakis, Luciano Berio, and Luigi Nono. In Mas Lugares, Scodanibbio employs his distinctive techniques to re-compose the madrigals of Claudio Monteverdi, taking late Renaissance polyphony to new places.