The rest is noise



Hollywood, Minimalism and musical theatre

America’s continued domination on the world stage was symbolised by Neil Armstrong’s tentative steps on the surface of the moon in July 1969, but not everything was going smoothly. The 1970s saw economic troubles, foreign policy headaches and the dramatic resignation of President Nixon over the Watergate scandal.

Some of the idealism of the 1960s had subsided, but American artists were creating engaging work, away from the angst and in-fighting of the European avant-garde.

A group of American composers developed ‘minimalism’, a music that allied consonant harmonies to a fresh new physicality in rhythm. Euphoric, hypnotic, and with a commercial success that set it apart from many previous musical movements, minimalism had an engaging openness that took in influences from jazz and gamelan to African drumming. Of course, there had been American composers writing genuinely popular notated music before minimalism, but it was being heard in movie theatres and on Broadway.

Many cinematic and musical theatre classics benefited from stirring and memorable music that has become an integral part of America’s cultural landscape.

Visit ITunes to explore related music, podcasts, iBooks and more.


SATURDAY 9 – SUNDAY 10 November

(From 10am - 6pm. Note, passes do NOT include entry to concerts)

Vietnam. Watergate. Downtown New York. Scorsese.

We get under the skin of a nation which put a man on the moon, but was still rocked by political, social and economic scandal.

Plus Minimalism: the euphoric, hypnotic and surprisingly commercial musical phenomenon.

Buy a weekend or day pass to get involved in our jam packed programme of events.

See the full timetable for the weekend

Events include:


We are pleased to announce that Paul Burston will be joining us this weekend to talk about the pop icons of the 1980s. He will be talking about all things Bowie, Boy George, Adam Ant and Grace Jones at 2pm on Sunday 10 November.

The Watergate scandal and the emblematic figure of President Nixon are explored by Carl Freedman, a Professor at Louisiana State university, and author of The Age Of Nixon: A Study In Cultural Power

'There's just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them' (The Guardian). The man himself gives a keynote talk on Minimalism.

Author and activist Naomi Wolf speaks about political activism in late 20th-century America.

Goldsmiths' Keith Potter discusses Philip Glass, a composer who so effectively combined Minimalism, experiments and approachability in a way that is iconic of New York in the 1960s and '70s.

Writer and broadcaster Bidisha discusses the pop icon in the era when stars such as Madonna and Grace Jones rose to icon status.

Tim Lawrence gives a talk on the rise of DJ culture, disco and the downtown scene, which spread through the abandoned spaces of urban New York in the 1970s and early 1980s


15 minutes on each of the need-to-know topics of the era including:

The show must go on! The ever-changing fortunes of Broadway theatre.

The whole world mourned when John Lennon was shot on 8 December 1980. What have we learnt from his life and his death?

Jane Jacobs, who thought suburbs were 'parasitic' and proposed a new way to plan the American city.

Disco - from psychedelic counter-culture to top of the pops.

After Steve Reich and before Naomi Wolf?:


Grab a coffee and delve inside the music of The Rest Is Noise festival. Composer and presenter Fraser Trainer leads a fun and informal workshop on Glass's Music in 12 Parts on Sunday.


Don't know where to start? Let our music experts bring the music of Superpower to life in these beginner's guides.


Students from the Royal Academy of Music perform a collection of Elliott Carter's solo and instrumental works.


Including Philip Glass and Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi.


Superpower Saturday Day Pass - Saturday 9 November 2013. Book now

Superpower Sunday Day Pass - Sunday 10 November 2013. Book now

Superpower Weekend Pass - Saturday 9 - Sunday 10 November 2013. Book now

The Concerts

8 November - 10 November 2013

Separate tickets are required for each event

Philip Glass: Music in 12 Parts 9 November 2013 Travel back to the halcyon days of 1970s New York with a rare performance of Philip Glass’s four-hour Minimalist masterpiece, featuring the man himself on keyboards. Book Now


The Genius of Film Music 1960-1980 8 November 2013 Welcome to Hollywood and the golden age of movie music, where the shift to 'talkies' and the arrival of hundreds of émigré musicians from the great orchestras of central Europe formed a perfect storm of creativity. Book Now

Feldman Patterns 8 November 2013 Widely acknowledged as one of his finest late compositions, Apartment House perform Patterns In A Chromatic Field for cello and piano.  Book Now

Steve Reich & The Colin Currie Group 10 November 2013 Steve Reich himself joins us for this concert, featuring three of his most bewitching scores. Book Now

America's Great Originals 10 November 2013 Making his debut in the International Piano Series, Andrew Zolinsky presents music by four of America’s great originals, music that explores sound, silence and time. Book Now

Sondheim: Inside Out 10 November 2013 Delve into Sondheim's unique and entertaining observations on love, relationships and human interaction.  Book Now

For more information and to buy tickets for Superpower, visit the Southbank Centre ticketing website


The Guardian

Tom Service: A guide to Steve Reich's music

Without Steve Reich's rhythms, pulses and phasing, contemporary culture would be a much poorer place.

Tom Service: A guide to Philip Glass's music

There's no denying the huge importance of Glass's compositions with their unique combination of experimentalism and listener-friendliness

More from The Guardian

The Rest is Noise festival: what's your favourite piece of 20th-century music?

Conductors, musicians and artists share their favourite classical works from a century of musical turbulence.

The Rest Is Noise festival: Alex Ross, Strauss and the 20th century

Watch Gillian Moore in conversation with The Guardian's Laura Barton and Imogen Tilden.

The Rest Is Noise festival

All video and articles at The Guardian.



The Open University

If you have been inspired by one of the many events taking place at The Southbank centre for The Rest is Noise festival, you can take your interest further with the Open University.

The Rest Is Noise at The Open University