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Steve Reich: A Wild Compositional Ride

In a conversation with composer Steve Reich, you're as likely to find references to quantum mechanics and computers as you are to Bach.

For his latest composition, You Are (Variations), the conversation involves Hebrew psalms, mysticism and German philosophy. The first movement of You Are comes from the writings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, a Hassidic mystic from the 18th century.

The movement's title is "You are wherever your thoughts are," which Reich considers "a wonderful description of how we listen to music. As the music goes, so we go… if you're really listening."

Reich, who turns 69 on Oct. 3, looks forward to marking his birthday with the release of a new CD. The disc features You Are (Variations) and a second piece, Cello Counterpoint.

For his 70th birthday, Reich is already working on two new pieces -- one is called Pearl Variations, in memory of journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped in 2002 and killed by his captors while reporting a story in Pakistan. Jeff Lunden talks with Reich about his music.

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Jeff Lunden is a freelance arts reporter and producer whose stories have been heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, as well as on other public radio programs.