Archive for the “Bang on a Can” Category

There are a few more concerts happening in New York this week that you should know about, and then I’ll give the concert updates a rest for a while.  Promise.

Tonight (Tuesday, October 12), is your last chance to see the New York premiere of Kraft by Magnus Lindberg.  7:30pm, New York Philharmonic, Avery Fisher Hall.  If you somehow haven’t heard about this, you can read the s21 posts about it here, here, and here; the New York Times articles and videos here, and here.  You can even find some info over at Huffington Post.  Check on ticket availability here, and see you tonight!

Thursday (October 14), like most nights here, is full of fantastic concerts to check out.  Here are two that I strongly recommend: Option #1, Transit presents So Percussion, Tristan Perich, and Corps Exquis (a collaboration between Daniel Wohl and six video artists) at Galapagos (8pm).  Option #2, Talea Ensemble is presenting a concert called KINETICS (also at 8pm at the Rose Studio at Lincoln Center); they will perform music by Philippe Leroux, Luciano Berio, Frank Denyer, Manfred Stahnke, and a world premiere by Alexandre Lunsqui appropriately titled Kineticstudies.  Good luck choosing!

Friday (October 15) is the season opener for the American Composers Orchestra (7:30pm. Zankel Hall).  Their program is called “Mystics & Magic” and they will present John Luther Adams, Jacob Druckman, Wang Jie (winner of ACO’s 2009 Underwood New Music Readings Commission), Alvin Singleton, and Claude Vivier.  And they will also be welcome two truly amazing soloists: soprano Susan Narucki (for Claude’s piece), and pianist Ursula Oppens (for Alvin’s piece).

Saturday (October 16) I’ll be checking out A House in Bali over at BAM.  Of course, this is actually being presented the 14-16th, so take your pick.  There’s no need to go into details about it here, you can read my earlier post for more information.

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Finally, it’s almost here, after over a year of waiting, the east coast premiere of Evan Ziporyn’s new opera A House in Bali.

Our friends in Boston get to check it out first this weekend: Friday and Saturday, October 8th and 9th, at the Cutler Majestic Theater (219 Tremont Street).  The good folks at Bang on a Can have even made a special offer available for these two shows – just click here for the offer.

Then, the next weekend, the whole production is coming down to NYC for performances at BAM, October 14-16th, as part of the 2010 Next Wave Festival.

While I know that I have been waiting a year to see this, I realize that people may not know what A House in Bali is all about.

A House in Bali (featuring a rare U.S. appearance by the 16-member Balinese gamelan orchestra Salukat intertwined with the Bang on a Can All-Stars, western opera, live video feeds, and traditional Balinese dance) tells the “East meets West” story of composer Colin McPhee and his immersion in Balinese music and culture. The trailblazing work directed by Jay Scheib with libretto by Paul Schick follows the course of McPhee’s sojourn to Bali, his encounters with anthropologist Margaret Mead and painter Walter Spies, and their ultimately tragic relationship with dancer I Sampih, a Balinese youth whom McPhee mentors after the boy saves his life.  In addition to Gamelan Salukat and Bang on a Can All-Stars, featured performers include Dewa Ketut Alit, recognized worldwide as one of the top Indonesian composer-performers of his generation, renowned American tenor Peter Tantsits as Colin McPhee, mesmerizing dancers Kadek Dewi Aryani and Desak Madé Suarti Laksmi, celebrated Balinese masked dancer I Nyoman Catra, tenor Timur Bekbosunov, soprano Anne Harley, and Nyoman Triyana Usadhi.

Over the past couple years I have been able to sit down and talk with most of the members of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, who will all be performing in these Boston and New York productions.  None of the interviews are about A House in Bali specifically, but they are all about these musicians’ experience working with composers.  Click on a name to go straight to the audio:  Evan Ziporyn, Vicky Chow, Robert Black, Ashley Bathgate, and Derek Johnson (subbing for Mark Stewart).

And, if any of you can’t seem to get enough of Evan, he also has this show at Carnegie on October 30th… if you aren’t already going to this or this.

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The founders of Bang on a Can have been busy, and it looks like the fall season is starting in a big way for David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe.  Below are some concerts coming up in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Palo Alto and Cleveland, which are all worth checking out.

Sunday, October 3:  Music of Julia Wolfe performed by Robert Black and the Hartt Bass Band, JACK Quartet, and Matthew Welch at Le Poisson Rouge.  Wait, that was last night, sorry – whoops. Well, even though it’s too late to check out that concert, I wanted to give a tip-of-the-hat to Julia for a truly satisfying and earsplitting(!) concert last night.  She started off the evening by saying that the program was full of rarely performed music, and understandably so.  She told us that Dig Deep is her least performed quartet, and then JACK promptly tore it apart (in a good way).  She also mentioned how hard it is to get eight great contrabasses in the same place to perform Stronghold and how difficult it would be to find the right bagpiper for LAD if not for Matthew Welch.  Completely worth the wait.

Don’t worry though, there is still plenty of time to check out Julia (and Michael and David) this fall at these concerts that haven’t passed, yet.

For those of you in New York:
Thursday, October 7: David Lang’s score for the latest ballet by New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Benjamin Millepied will premiere at New York City Ballet’s Gala Performance. A repeat performance will take place on October 10 (plus four performances in February 2011).

Friday, October 8: The Kronos Quartet and the Young People’s Chorus of New York will perform the world premiere of Exalted by Michael Gordon at LPR.

Saturday, October 9: Michael Gordon will be performed AGAIN by Kronos in the New York premiere of Clouded Yellow, again at LPR.

For those of you in Los Angeles:
Tuesday, October 19: David, Michael AND Julia will all be part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series.

Peeking into November, for those of you near Palo Alto:
Friday, November 5: The All-Stars will be performing pieces by both David and Julia at the Dinkelspiel Auditorium at Stanford University.

And finally, again in November, for those of you in Cleveland:
Saturday, November 13: David Lang will be featured at the Cleveland Museum of Art by the Oberlin Contemporary Ensemble with the Ohio premiere of his Pulitzer Prize-winning the Little Match Girl Passion.

Of course there is also Evan Ziporyn’s opera extravaganza, A House in Bali, coming up in Boston and New York – more on that in another post.

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Steve Reich’s latest Nonesuch CD recently arrived, sans artwork in a little cardboard case. The disc features Double Sextet and 2×5, his collaborations with Eighth Blackbird and Bang on a Can. The former piece won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Music. The latter is his most explicit use of rock instrumentation to date.

According to the Nonesuch site, it’s still in the “pre-order” phase of activities, so we’ll be good and hold off on a proper review ’til it’s closer to the actual release date (9/14).

Suffice it to say, if you’re a regular visitor to Sequenza 21, you’re likely going to want one, possibly three, copies of this recording. An intergenerational summit – minimalist elder statesman meets post-minimal/totalist ace performers – that, in terms of importance, is more or less the Downtown version of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane.

Here’s some footage of Reich rehearsing BoaC:

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North Adams MA’s summer claim to fame, the Bang on a Can summer music fest, has been going great guns the past week, and wraps up Saturday, July 31, with the rural version of BOAC’s Marathon concert spectacle. Kicking off at 4pm, it will include Steve Reich’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Double Sextet, Arvo Part’s classic Fratres in a version for percussion and string orchestra; Julia Wolfe‘s blazing Fuel for string orchestra, with a film by legendary experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison (Decasia). Plus a new work by Swiss post-jazz master and ECM records mainstay Nik Baertsch, Evan Ziporyn dressing up Balinese music in ripped jeans in his Music from Shadowbang, an ensemble of Uzbekis come half way around the globe just to shake up North Adams, Christine Southworth‘s electrifying concerto Zap originally written for Van de Graaf generator and ensemble, pattern master Tom Johnson‘s translation of an ancient Indian math problem into a minimalist masterpiece, and much more. Tickets are $22, and directions are here. If you’re adventurous, free and mobile it sounds like a great way to escape the city swelter.

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I’ve been uploading my old reviews on my blog. Today’s upload is a review I did for a new music festival at the University of California, San Diego in 1995: concerts by the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Paul Dresher Ensemble. This may seem totally run of the mill to New Yorkers and younger composers, but it was heresy at the hallowed halls of modernism at the UCSD Music Dept. At the time, Paul Dresher was probably the most successful, acclaimed alumnus of the dept.–and this was the first time he had been asked to perform there since his graduation. (he had been invited to do a performance of Slow Fire a few years before this–for the UCSD Theater Dept.!) Following the Bang On A Can All-Stars concert, Roger Reynolds was rumored to have apologized to his composition students for their concert, and swore they would never come back to the Music Dept. (Looks like he kept his promise!) So what caused all the fuss? You can read about it here.

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Who’s the first (ahem) “downtown contemporary classical ensemble” to be added to the videogame Rock Band?

Bang on a Can All Stars host their annual Marathon this Sunday (6/26) at the World Financial Center Winter Garden in Manhattan from noon-midnight.

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bagpipeJust a few weeks ago over at our CD Review section, Jay Batzner wrote about the new Julia Wolfe Dark Full Ride CD: “Each piece transfixes me.  I am writing my own music differently because of this disc.  I am so glad that Julia Wolfe exists, is writing music, and that such talented performers play the hell out of her stuff.”  It’s a really interesting Ride, each piece intensely working over some greater or lesser multiple of the same instrument.

If you’re a skeptical “show me” kind of person, free as a bird tomorrow (Nov. 10th) in NYC and maybe just a little crazy, you can test your own reaction to all of these works and the performers. The normal CD release concert has been jettisoned for this one, instead having each of the four pieces performed separately in venues familiar and not-so, scattered around Manhattan:

At 11 AM Matthew Welch is guaranteed to absolutely fill the air as he plays LAD on bagpipe with 8 more bagpipes on tape, at Roulette, 20 Greene Street (between Canal and Grand);

At 12 noon, the title piece Dark Full Ride for 4 drumsets (manned by the Talujon Percussion Quartet — David Cossin, Tom Kolor, Michael Lipsey and Matt Ward) will pound out at Dauphin Human Design, 138 West 25th Street, 12th Floor (between 6th and 7th Avenues);

At 1 PM Robert Black and the Hartt Bass Band will rock Wolfe’s Stronghold for 8 double basses, at the Chelsea Art Museum, 556 West 22nd Street (corner of 11th Avenue);

Finally at 2:30 PM Lisa Moore, Lisa Kaplan, Blair McMillen, Timo Andres, Kate Campbell and Isabelle O’Connell, all conducted by Sam Adams, will undertake the epic my lips from speaking for 6 pianos at Faust Harrison Pianos, 205 West 58th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues).

julia wolfeJulia herself will be tagging along to each performance; if you happen to spot this face in the crowd you might go and say hi & thanks to the woman who penned all this glorious madness. It’s all free and open to whoever makes it, so pack a lunch, put on those walking shows and have a great hike!

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Adam Goldberg

Adam Goldberg

(UNTITLED), an original film satire of New York’s avant-garde art scene, will appear in theaters across the nation this fall. By poking fun at the idiosyncrasies of 21st century Bohemia, (UNTITLED) introduces American audiences to some of the best that contemporary art has to offer, notably a score by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, who merges the artistic expressions of the composer protagonist with his own musical voice.

(UNTITLED) revolves around melancholy composer Adrian (Adam Goldberg) and his whirlwind affair with a Chelsea gallerist (Marley Shelton), who unbeknownst to Adrian sells vacuous commercial works to high-paying corporate clients. The film explores the idea of true art and the question of integrity lost through commercialism – all with tongue in cheek. At the beginning, Adrian’s music comprises cliché contemporary classical music elements, such as crinkling paper and breaking glass. Once his perspective and emotions achieve depth and insight through his blossoming romance, his music becomes more profound.

John Clare had a chance to send questions to both David Lang and Adam Goldberg. In the second part (part 1 is here with David Lang), John Clare finds out more about (UNTITLED) from its star, Adam Goldberg.

1. Often with a joke, there is some seriousness or truth behind it. Is there some truth to this movie even though there is some fun being poked?

Well, actually upon my last viewing of it, the second time I watched it with an audience, albeit at LACMA–the perfect audience–it seemed to have a real weight to it. The film sort of takes a turn once the absurdity is established I think. For me the film really has always been about this righteous indignation, this sort of defensiveness of one’s position–whether as an artist or a audience member or a critic or an art dealer, in this case–that really is front for enormous insecurity. These characters are all wayward and tend to overcompensate with very stringent , often absurd, points of view.

2. There are some outrageous sounds and art. How does your taste run in real life – in both “new concert music” and “art”?

I definitely have always been obsessed with sound and strange sounds and repetition, but usually incorporated into something melodic or hypnotic in some way. I have for a long time been a fan of Steve Reich–whose work began with simple tape loops and phasing of found material, but eventually he applied this process to beautiful symphonic pieces. I have also been a fan of some conceptual art, but usually when it engages the viewer, interacts with him or her in some way or tells a story. I don’t like things that seem to aim merely to shock or to alienate. Basically if it moves me or I can relate to it in some way then, well, I like it.

3. David Lang is a Pulitzer Prize winner and incredibly gifted composer, but unfortunately not a household name – how was he chosen for the movie, and how was collaboration with Untitled?

I believe Jonathan, the director, knew David from music school. He had an interesting job, both to score the film and create the ‘sound’ pieces our little group performs–though in the end it was so bizarrely structured and arranged that we could often only barely perform to playback so much of the “music” we’re making we actually are making. David also served I think as a bit of a consultant to Jonathan when he was writing this, creating my character. I love David’s music and this score is quite beautiful I think.

4. What is the possibility of Untitled 2, or Untitled – the Showtime series?

Ha!

5. There have been quite a few composers in pop culture these days, from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (Jason Segal) to “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” (Natalie Portman’s piano/composer) and the likes of Paul McCartney & Billy Joel writing new classical music. Is composition a new cool as nerds (think Big Bang Theory) are?

Hmmm….I’ve never thought “Big Bang Theory.” Well, I remember years ago Elvis Costello put out a sort of classical record with the Brodsky Quartet that was pretty innovative. Conversely, Philip Glass many many years ago started I think to incorporate a sort of popular music element–singing an so forth–into his music. I think there’s always been some overlap. I saw a great piece that a childhood friend of my girlfriend’s put on. Michael Einziger from Incubus of all things. It was fantastic, sort of Reich meets Bernard Hermann. I think there’s something that feels for lack of a better word “legitimate” about working with classical elements. I know that some of the stuff musically I’ve done musically, with my project LANDy, that I’ve been most proud of incorporates some classical elements–arrangements of strings and that sort of thing. Albeit I’m usually humming the arrangements like a crazy person to the poor violinists.

(UNTITLED) opens tomorrow, October 23rd, in a limited release; and the soundtrack is out already from Cantaloupe!

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(UNTITLED), an original film satire of New York’s avant-garde art scene, will appear in theaters across the nation this fall. By poking fun at the idiosyncrasies of 21st century Bohemia, (UNTITLED) introduces American audiences to some of the best that contemporary art has to offer, notably a score by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, who merges the artistic expressions of the composer protagonist with his own musical voice.

(UNTITLED) revolves around melancholy composer Adrian (Adam Goldberg) and his whirlwind affair with a Chelsea gallerist (Marley Shelton), who unbeknownst to Adrian sells vacuous commercial works to high-paying corporate clients. The film explores the idea of true art and the question of integrity lost through commercialism – all with tongue in cheek. At the beginning, Adrian’s music comprises cliché contemporary classical music elements, such as crinkling paper and breaking glass. Once his perspective and emotions achieve depth and insight through his blossoming romance, his music becomes more profound.

John Clare had a chance to send questions to both David Lang and Adam Goldberg. In the first post, here are Lang’s answers about (UNTITLED):

1. Often with a joke, there is some seriousness or truth behind it. Is there some truth to this movie even though there is some fun being poked?

There is a lot of truth in this movie, mostly about how people in the arts become passionately committed to something they believe in that may look unbelievable from the outside. I think that creative commitment is captured very well, as is the distance between the committed people and the people watching the committed people.

2. How cool is it for the composer to “get the girl” in this movie? Did it influence your music for the film?

Getting the girl didn’t influence my thinking in the movie, although it didn’t hurt. The progression of the character musically is that he begins by making music only for himself, because that is how large his world view is; when he meets the girl his senses and optimism and maybe even his idea of audience expand, and his music changes accordingly. I definitely tried to make that shift happen in the music. Read the rest of this entry »

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