Mantra Percussion visits Lowes

NPR Music shares footage from Mantra Percussion’s recent visit to a Lowes in Alexandria, Virginia. An ad hoc performance of Michael Gordon’s Timber was involved.

Mantra will give the West Coast premiere of Timber on September 21-23 at the Carlsbad Music Festival.

Tonight: Nick and Dennis at the Duplex

Composers (and avid Twitter correspondents) Nick Norton (California) and Dennis Tobenski (the Big Apple) have a show tonight at New York’s Duplex Cabaret Theater (61 Christopher Street at 7th Avenue). Joined by pianist Marc Peloquin, Dennis will be singing some of his own art songs. Peloquin will also be performing Nick’s solo piano music. Start time is 9:30 PM: $10 and a 2 drink minimum.

Weekend Destination: Laurie Anderson’s Boat

Boat (2012). Oil on Canvas

So many wonderful music events are going on this Spring into early Summer.

Next week is no exception, with the New York Philharmonic presenting an all Dutilleux concert (featuring Yo-Yo Ma) and Philharmonic 360.

Artist's rendering of Philharmonic 360

However, sometimes even the most ardent of music lovers need to feed their souls with arts from other disciplines.

I can’t think of anyone with more fertile cross-disciplinary pursuits than Laurie Anderson.

Presented by Vito Schnabel (details below), Anderson’s Boat is the first exhibition of her paintings in New York.

Anderson is no dilettante in the visual arts: her academic background includes teaching art history.

She’s spent at least as much time exploring the visual world via fine arts works and video/film as she has spent in sound and performance arts.

The exhibit is only open through Saturday (tomorrow), but  is free and open to the public.

Why not take a break from musicking and enjoy some paintings?

Lolabelle in the Bardo (2011). Charcoal on paper.

MAY 12 – JUNE 23, 2012
126 Leroy St New York, NY 10014
Tuesday – Saturday 12-6pm
free to the public

Pink Painting (2012) Oil on canvas

Maya Beiser at Sunday’s BoaC Marathon

We’re pleased to introduce cellist Maya Beiser performing Michael Harrison’s composition “Just Ancient Loops,” with film by Bill Morrison, which will receive its premiere at the Bang on a Can 25th Anniversary Marathon this coming Sunday in NYC.

Maya Beiser and Bill Morrison via Vimeo

This is just one of many performances that will occur over the marathon’s 12 hours of free live music-making: check out the complete schedule online here.

Congrats to the can bangers – may you have many more seasons of marathoning!

A Combustible Combination

Tonight (May 30th), C4 Ensemble, a choir comprised primarily of composers and conductors, partners with amplified chamber ensemble Fireworks for a gig at Le Poisson Rouge: C4′s first at the venue.

In a program titled “When Sparks Fly,” these combined forces present music by Fireworks founder Brian Coughlin, Jonathan David, Karen Siegel, and Martha Sullivan. The program is repeated on Saturday at MMAC (details below).

WEDNESDAY, May 30, 2012

(Le) Poisson Rouge

158 Bleecker St (Thompson & Sullivan)

7:30 PM (doors open at 6:30)

$15 Advance Purchase/$20 Day of Performance at

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Theatre at MMAC

248 West 60th St (10th-West End)

8:00 PM

$15 at the door or online

5/30: Amy X. Neuburg debuts at the Stone

This month, Gyan Riley is curating for New York venue the Stone. One of the San Francisco residents that he’s invited to visit the Big Apple for a gig is avant-cabaret artist Amy X. Neuburg, who performs there tonight (details below).

Neuburg eschews the usual instrumentation of a cabaret performer, instead using an electronic drumset. But the music isn’t isolated to percussive utterances; rather the synth drums serve as a control surface with which she can trigger live recording and overdubs. Thus, a drum hit might ‘sound’ like drums, or it might just as easily trigger backing vocals or synth patches.

Using this setup, Neuburg often creates multiple loops, each with its own place in the sound field. Her set at the Stone (her first appearance there) will introduce some new works, but also revisits her back catalog, updating several pieces to accommodate this ”spatialized” aesthetic.

Amy X. Neuburg at the Stone

May 30 at 8 PM

The Stone,

Corner of Avenue C and Second Avenue


Tickets: $10 at the door

BoaC shares free DL of new album

Bang on a Can is celebrating twenty-five years of music making in generous fashion. Between now and Jan. 25th, you can download their new album, Big Beautiful Dark and Scary, via In exchange, they ask for an email address and a memory of a BoaC moment: the former is kept confidential, the latter is published in a scrapbook commemorating the album.

Think this is marketing against one’s own self-interests? Probably not. The iTunes version is for sale from 1/31, and features a bonus track of the ensemble performing Philip Glass’s Closing, with Glass, live. When the physical streets on 2/28, it will be a double disc of premiere recordings that will also feature films of the ensemble. So, instead of a “loss leader,” I tend to think of this release as downtown’s answer to Radiohead’s In Rainbows. In the meantime, Happy New Year, and happy downloading, all!

Notable in 2011: So Percussion and Lisa Moore play Bresnick

Caprichos Enfaticos
by Martin Bresnick
So Percussion; Lisa Moore, piano
Cantaloupe Music CD

It takes chutzpah to base a musical composition around an iconic piece of visual art. Francisco Goya’s Los Destastres de la Guerra (“The Disasters of War”) is a book of etchings that captures the human toll of combat (as well as its toll on the rest of creation) with a visceral impact that has seldom been equaled. Using it as the basis for a musical piece, even going so far as to use Goya’s own phrases for movement titles? A composer who does so better bring the goods or they will likely be dwarfed by comparison. Fortunately, Martin Bresnick’s Caprichos Enfaticos is eminently capable of complementing its powerful source material. Indeed, it’s one of his most affecting pieces to date, one in which there is a fluid progression from traditionally inspired material to more dissonant and abstract expression.

A particular reference point is a chain dance that originated in Provence, called the farandula, or farandole. Its 6/8 phrases are juxtaposed with bellicose marches played on snare drums and interspersed with ruminative and achingly piteous interludes for piano and pitched percussion.

Cast in eight movements, the piece mirrors the trajectory of Goya’s etchings from a semblance of order and civilization to chthonic brutality.  In successive iterations, the gestural language of the farandole and folk-like thematic material is overwhelmed by a noisier environment: populated with a diverse battery of percussion instruments and a correspondingly chaotic phraseology.

In live performances, Caprichos Enfaticos is accompanied by video projections created by Johanna Bresnick and based on the Goya works. So Percussion and pianist Lisa Moore inhabit the music with a persuasive, commanding, and detailed performance on record: one can only imagine its powerful impact coupled with Goya’s artworks in a live setting.

Not only was chutzpah an ingredient of this project, but so was a seamless collaborative spirit. Meet the Composer commissioned this piece for So Percussion and Moore, and it is a truly inspired partnership. One hopes that it is merely the beginning of a long musical relationship.

yMusic share single; upcoming (belated) release show

We wrote about yMusic a little while back on the blog, but their CD is cause for celebration anytime, even after its formal release. This past week, the group played a “release party” show at Rockwood Music Hall. But if you missed it, fear not, they are also performing at the Beacon Theatre, sharing the bill with My Brightest Diamond.

Shara Worden has done more than share a bill with yMusic. She’s collaborated with them on both her recent CD All Things Will Unwind and appeared as guest vocalist on yMusic’s Beautiful Mechanical CD. The band is sharing “Skin and Bones,” a track featuring Worden, via their Bandcamp page.