While working on a masters degree at UC Berkeley in 1960, he met La Monte Young, whose radical approach to time made a big impact and the two made a life long association.
During this time Riley and Young worked out many of their seminal ideas while working with influential dancer Anna Halprin.
In 1965 he move to New York and joined La Monte Young’s Theater of Eternal Music.
1967 was the year of his first all night concert at the Philadelphia College of Art and he began a collaboration with visual artist Robert Benson resulting in more all night concerts.
In 1970, Terry became a disciple of the revered North Indian Raga Vocalist, Pandit Pran Nath and made the first of his numerous trips to India to study with the Master. He appeared frequently in concert with the legendary singer as tampura, tabla and vocal accompanist over the next 26 years until Pran Naths passing in 1996. He has co-directed along with Sufi Murshid, Shabda Kahn of the Chisti Sabri India music study tours 1993-2000.
Terry regularly appears in concerts of Indian Classical Music and conducts raga singing seminars.
While teaching at Mills College in Oakland in the 1970's he met David Harrington, founder and leader of the Kronos Quartet and began the long association that has so far produced 13 string quartets, a quintet, Crows Rosary and a concerto for string quartet, The Sands (1990), which was the Salzburg Festival's first new music commission and SUN RINGS (2003), the 2 hour multi media piece for choir, visuals and Space sounds, commissioned by NASA.
Cadenza on the Night Plain was selected by both Time and Newsweek as one of the 10 best Classical albums of the year.
The epic 5 quartet cycle, Salome Dances for Peace was selected as the #1 Classical album album of the year by USA Today and was nominated for a Grammy.
Some of the performers who have commissioned and/or played his works:
Kronos Quartet, The Rova Saxophone Quartet, the ARTE Quartet, Array Music, Zeitgeist, the Steven Scott Bowed Piano Ensemble, John Zorn, Sarah Cahill, The California E.A.R. Unit, guitarist David Tanenbaum, drummer George Marsh, bassist Bill Douglass, the Assad brothers. Cello Octet Conjunto Ibérico, the Crash Ensemble, Abel Steinberg-Winant Trio, Pianist Werner Bartschi, Gloria Cheng, the Calder Quartet, the Arditti Quartet and the Amati Quartet, Alter Ego, Sounds Bazaar, Paul Dresher, singer Amelia Cuni, The Bang on a Can All Stars and guitarist Gyan Riley.
From 1989 to1993 he formed the ensemble Khayal. He subsequently formed The Allstars and the Vigil Band. He regularly performs solo piano concerts of his works from the past 30 years. He also appears in duo concerts with Indian sitarist Krishna Bhatt, saxophonist George Brooks, his son, guitarist Gyan Riley and with virtuoso Italian bassist, Stefano Scodanibbio.
In 1992, he formed the small theater company, The Travelling-Avantt-Gaard, comprised of John Deaderick, actor and libretto, Mikail Graham, sound, Sally Davis, singer, dancer and mime, Frank Ragsdale, video and Karen Ezekiel, stage setting. They performed the chamber opera, The Saint Adolf Ring, based on the divinely mad drawings, poetry, writings and mathematical calculations of Adolf Woelfli, an early 20th century Swiss Artist who suffered from schizophrenia and created his entire output over a 35 year span while confined at the Waldau clinic for the insane in Bern Switzerland.
In 1999 he was commissioned by the Norwich Festival to compose a new work, WHAT THE RIVER SAID, which toured Britain with the UK based group, Sounds Bazaar featuring the great drupad vocalist Amelia Cuni. Then followed a commission from the Kanagawa Foundation in Yokohama to create an evening length work for solo piano in micro tonal tuning. THE DREAM, which received simultaneous premiers in Rome and in Yokohama performed by the composer.
The new millennium began with a tour of the All Stars which included George Brooks, saxophones, Tracy Silverman, Violin and 6 string Viola , Gyan Riley Guitar and Stefano Scodanibbio, string bass.
They launched the first New Sounds Live concert of the 21st Century at Merkin Hall.
In May of 2000, Terry made his first tour of Russia with solo piano concerts at the Sergei Kuryokin Festival in Saint Petersburg and at the
Music for a new staging of Michael McClure's play, Josephine the Mouse Singer was written for a run in February 2001 at SanFrancisco's SoMart theater.
In 2003 his plans for the new TIME LAG ACCUMULATOR were realized and constructed for the Festival of Lille. This 9 room mirrored structure with multi time delays was modeled on the original TIME LAG ACCUMULATOR assembled in 1968 for the Magic Theatre Show at the Nelson Atkins Gallery in Kansas City. The new TLA will reside at the museum of Contemporary Art in Lyon France.
In 2004 Terry and Michael released their first collaborative album, I LIKE YOUR EYES LIBERTY.
Giant-Hairy Nude-Warriors Racing Down the Slopes of Battle (2006), a 3 movement work for large chamber ensemble, was premiered in Ireland at the Drogheda Festival’s Riley retrospective.
SolTierraLuna 2007 was commissioned jointly by the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra and the New Century Chamber Orchestra of San Francisco and had it's Premier on March 30.2008 with the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra. It is a triple concerto featuring guitarists Gyan Riley and David Tanenbaum and violinist Krista Feeney. Maestro Ignat Solzhenitsen conducted the orchestra.
Terry has scored 3 feature films and has made music for numerous short films including those of Bruce Conner.
Terry is currently at work on a set of 24 pieces for guitar and guitar ensemble called The Book of Abbeyozzud. Many of these pieces can be found on the New Albion CD, The Book of Abbeyozzud.
THE UNIVERSAL BRIDGE, for solo pipe organ had it's premiere at Walt Disney Hall, May 25th 2008.
Recent works include, SolTierraLuna for two guitars, violin and Orchestra, premiered in Philadelphia in March 08 and The Transylvanian Horn Courtship written for Stroh instruments premiered at Notre Dame in March of 09. Terry played his first pipe organ concert to a sold out audience at Disney Hall in May of 08, introducing The Universal Bridge, a work especially commissioned for that evening. He christened the gigantic Disney Hall pipe organ "Hurricane Mama."
Riley was listed in the London Sunday Times as "one of the 1000 makers ofthe 20th Century."
Sri Moonshine Music
PO BOX 955
North San Juan CA 95960 USA