Tag Archives: Bang on a Can

Neutral Milk Hotel feels right at home in Port Chester’s Capitol Theatre

The hoi polloi weren't allowed to take photos of Neutral Milk Hotel during the performance, at the artist's request. So this image of the stage, set up for the band, is all I got. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh)

The hoi polloi weren’t allowed to take photos of Neutral Milk Hotel during the performance, at the artist’s request. So this image of the stage, set up for the band, is all I got. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh)

It’s time for a confession: I never saw Jeff Mangum or his legendary band, Neutral Milk Hotel, perform back in the day.

Sure, I heard the songs then, and I’ve listened to the recordings obsessively in recent years.

But seeing Jeff’s gradual return to the spotlight at the NYC benefit for Chris Knox at 2010, and at various shows he’s done since then, I feel like I’ve gotten to know him. Continue reading

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Asphalt Orchestra plays the Pixies: Surfer Rosa — FREE this Sunday

Asphalt Orchestra performing on the Lincoln Center Plaza. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Asphalt Orchestra performing on the Lincoln Center Plaza. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Avant-garde marching band will open for a Kronos Quartet ‘Kronos at 4o’ show

Asphalt Orchestra hits Lincoln Center Out of Doors this Sunday, July 28 with a brand-new project: a cover of the fan-favorite Pixies album Surfer Rosa.

The avant-garde marching band, a cocreation of LCOOD and Bang on a Can, is well known for its inventive reinvention of pop songs mixed with compositions written specifically for the costumed clan.

Asphalt Orchestra co-leader Ken Thomson describes the evening this way:

We are covering the classic Pixies record Surfer Rosa.
45 minutes of new music, Asphalt-style, choreographed and on stage.
All arranged by us in super-cool arrangements that use the original as a canvas for truly new versions of these tunes.

The free show starts at 6 p.m. with a set of Asphalt classics (Bjork, Zappa, Bregovic) on the plaza.

At 6:30, the music moves to the Damrosch Park Bandshell where Jacob Garchik’s “atheist gospel trombone project” The Heavens will be performed.

Asphalt plays next and then the evening’s headliner, Kronos Quartet, takes over.
Every second of music is free, with no ticket required and nobody hassling you for a  “donation” at the gate. Lincoln Center Out of Doors is one of those rare New York City institutions that truly is free — even free of guilt.

Bangin’ it up at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival

To call Mark Stewart a guitarist would be a disservice. The multi-talented redhead leads participants at MASS MoCA in making some noise with some of his homemade tubes during the 2010 Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

It’s a disservice to call Mark Stewart a guitarist. He leads a group at MASS MoCA in making some noise with some of his homemade tubes during the 2010 Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

18 days of fantastic summer music in the Berkshires

Today’s subject: MASS MoCA.

I’ve written a lot lately about the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, especially in the last month or two because of Wilco’s splendid Solid Sound Festival, held on the museum campus in North Adams, Mass., in late June.

When Wilco announced the inaugural Solid Sound back in 2010, I pretty much knew it would be great because I had already seen MASS MoCA host many, many editions of the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival — colloquially known at Banglewood.

If you’ve been a regular reader of Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?, you already know something about the Bang on a Can program. This summer’s program is the 12th annual festival on the beautiful industrial MASS MoCA grounds.

But maybe you’re not a musician, or at least not one who wants to participate in the festival. How does this matter to you?

Rain on the MASS MoCA campus. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Rain on the MASS MoCA campus. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

That’s easy. Festival participants do their learning in public, putting on recitals six days a week and participating in a public Marathon concert on the final day. There’s also a performance of Bang on a Can co-founder Julia Wolfe‘s Steel Hammer, a full-length piece that weaves together the many variations of the John Henry folk legend.

So there’s plenty of professional-quality entertainment  for people who are just interested in listening and looking at some modern art. (Click through to the jump for schedule and ticketing information.)

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Bang on a Can Marathon: 9 hours of New Music in a new home this Sunday

A crowd of listeners at the 2011 Bang on a Can Marathon at the Winter Garden. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

A crowd of listeners at the 2011 Bang on a Can Marathon at the Winter Garden. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

This Sunday is a special day.

Yes, it’s Father’s Day, but that’s not it.

Sunday is also the day that Bang on a Can is throwing its big, genre-bending musical party for New York City — the Bang on a Can Marathon.

Mark your calendar and don’t miss it. But don’t head to the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center, where the free marathon New Music concert has been held for the last few years.

From 1-10 pm on Sunday (be sure to take Dad to brunch early and then bring him along to the show afterward), Bang on a Can will fill Pace University’s Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at 3 Spruce Street with nine hours of music — some of it familiar, some you’ve probably never heard before.

It’s the kickoff event of the River to River Festival, one of the city’s great free performing-arts series.

Bang on a Can had to move the marathon this year because the Winter Garden is under construction. The Schimmel Center is a smaller venue, a concert hall with fixed seating rather than a mall atrium with open, casual seating. So that means changes in the format.

Asphalt Orchestra performing at the 2011 Bang on a Can Marathon.

Asphalt Orchestra performing at the 2011 Bang on a Can Marathon.

For starters, you’ll need to get a free seating pass before you go in to sample the sounds. That’s just so the organizers can make sure the audience never exceeds the capacity of the 743-seat hall. They’ll be handing out the passing starting at noon — an hour before the first onstage event — on a first-come, first-served basis, so get there early to snag a good seat.

In addition to listening to the music, be sure to jump in on Twitter, too, by following on @bangonacan.

While most of the action is in the hall, if you get there early, you’ll encounter Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation. From noon until 5 pm, it’ll be operating its Street Studio, where anyone who wants to give it a try can create and record original music. Look for it at Park Row and Spruce Street.

Check out the full schedule after the jump.

Continue reading

Ken Thomson joins Bang on a Can All-Stars

When Evan Ziporyn recently left the Bang on a Can All-Stars, it seemed to us that there was inly one player who immediately came to mind as a replacement: Ken Thomson.

We met him when he was working for Bang on a Can’s Cantaloupe record label. But we quickly discovered what a fantastic, versatile wind player and composer he is.

You might know him as the peripatetic sax-playing leader of Gutbucket, or a leader of the Bang-Lincoln Center Out of Doors marching band, Asphalt Orchestra.

No matter how you know him, you know he’s up to the challenge of filling Evan’s shoes and taking the All-Stars to the next level.

Congratulations to Ken. Well done.

Here’s the press release:

Bang on a Can All-Stars Welcome Ken Thomson

We are thrilled to welcome high voltage clarinetist Ken Thomson to the Bang on a Can All-Stars! This past year, during our national search, we played with stunning clarinetists from all over the country. We were honored to share the stage with so many great performers. After a search far and wide, in the end we came back home to one of our own. Ken has been a part of the Bang on a Can family for many years. As a founding member of Asphalt Orchestra (our rad street band) and as faculty at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival at MASS MoCA, Ken has graced us with his dynamic and physical performances.

He has already jumped right in with a European tour taking place right now through Belgium, Sweden, the UK, and Iceland, to be followed by his first home-town performance as an official All-Stars at the Bang on a Can Marathon on Sunday June 16.

Welcome Ken!

Bang on a Can introduces new compositions at the Peoples Commissioning Fund concert

See what a little cash from a lot of people can do

While we’re generally ecstatic about New Amsterdam Records’ Ecstatic Music Festival, we’re particularly psyched about the latest installment of Bang on a Can’s long-running Peoples Commissioning Fund concert series.

It’s slated for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at Merkin Concert Hall in Manhattan.

The contemporary classical organization since 1997 has been collecting contributions, mostly small, from lots and lots of music lovers (that’s the “Peoples” part), aggregating them (the “Fund” part), and using them to commission (the Commissioning part) new work from composers new and established.

Bang on a Can calls this “a radical partnership between artists and audiences” that uses crowd-sourcing to fund new work. While the idea probably never was unique to Bang on a Can , it no doubt opened the door to other funding machines, such as Kickstarter and PledgeMusic.

The concept shatters the longstanding model of big-bucks patrons fueling the production of new work. This crowd-sourcing concept, which predates the social media boom, has raised almost $300,000 since its inception and made it possible for Bang on a Can to help in create more than 50 new works. Continue reading

Get ready for the Bang on a Can Marathon

Asphalt Orchestra at Lincoln Center Out of Doors on Aug. 4, 2010. © 2010, Steven P. Marsh

Asphalt Orchestra will open the 2011 edition of the Bang on a Can Marathon by performing "Carlton" by Stes and Heidi Rodewald and "Opus 81" by Yoko Ono. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, but it doesn’t really get started for us at Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? until the annual Bang on a Can Marathon arrives.

This year’s edition is Sunday, June 19. It’s scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to midnight, meaning we’re in for a real treat of 13 continuous hours of music — all for FREE at the World Financial Center Winter Garden in Manhattan’s Battery Park City.

Todd Reynolds at Littlefield's, Feb. 13, 2011. © 2011 Steven P. Marsh

Todd Reynolds

Scheduling problems (also known as my day job) last year made it hard to take in much of the daylong (mostly indoors) event.

We managed to listen only for a couple of hours. We’re not going to let that happen this year. We’ve made sure to save the time and date this year. You should, too.

This year’s edition features many of our favorites, including Bang on a Can’s house band, the All-Stars, electro-acoustic violinist extraodinaire Todd Reynolds (performing a World Premiere of his work Transamerica), avant garde marching band Asphalt Orchestra, the fabulous New Music ensemble Signal, singer-composer-director Toby Twining, cellist Maya Beiser and the truly wonderful Young People’s Chorus of New York City.

Toby Twining

Toby Twining (Ben Sozanski photo)

Aside from our recurring favorites, this year’s marathon also features a performance by the Sun Ra Arkestra in the 8-10 p.m. slot, and the Glenn Branca Ensemble as the day’s closer.

Aside from works by Bang on Can founders Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon and David Lang, the day features music by luminaries such as Philip Glass. Iannis Xenakis and Michael Nyman. However, the music of Steve Reich, a godfather of Bang on a Can, is absent from the program.

Click through for the full schedule or download a copy here.

Continue reading

People’s Commissioning Fund: Make your own music

Want to feel like a Medici or some other patron of the arts but don’t have the treasury to make it happen?

Everyone who gives — even just a few dollars — to Bang on a Can’s People’s Commissioning Fund is a minimogul responsible for the creation of a handful of musical works every year.

Commissioners, as Bang calls its donors to the PCF, get to hear the fruits of their efforts in concert in Manhattan on Thursday evening, Feb. 10. This year’s commissioned composers are Nick Brooke, hometown hero Bryce Dessner of the Brooklyn-based rock band The National and tabla-electronic-hip hop wizard Karsh Kale

This year’s concert is programmed as part of the Ecstatic Music Festival, a two-month cornucopia of music by like-minded composers and performers being presented at Merkin Concert Hall near Lincoln Center.

If you’ve already donated and have some free time at 5 p.m. on the day before the concert, you can see the musicians, and some or all of the composers, up close in a free dress rehearsal. You’ll even get the chance to ask questions and rub elbows with the artists and other commissioners at an informal reception afterward. Contact BoaC’s director of development, Tim Thomas, tim@bangonacan.org, for more info.

The Bang on a Can All-Stars, the house band, handles the playing duties for virtually all the commissions. They also be filling out the program with some other great music, including Steve Martland‘s Horses of Instruction, Convex/Concave/Concord by Danish minimalist Pelle Gudmundsen Holmgreen, and Believing by BoaC cofounder Julia Wolfe.

Here’s how BoaC cofounder David Lang describes the PCF process in a nutshell: “Over 14 years the People’s Commissioning Fund (PCF) is as liberating a force in music as we had imagined it would be. We are still pooling together the contributions large and small of hundreds of music lovers from around the world, adding penny to penny, combining lonesome individual gifts into awe inspiring communities of power and cold cash.  And then we give that money to bold, innovative, questioning, dedicated and highly inventive composers. We commission them, we rehearse their music intensively, we hold special events so that the members of the PCF can meet the musicians and composers that their generosity supports, and then we play that music in New York and often all around the world.  It is an amazing and beautiful thing.”

Beautiful, indeed. We here at Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? have supported the PCF from the beginning. We couldn’t be more proud of what our pennies have helped create.

The details:

7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 10. Bang on a Can 2011 People’s Commissioning Fund Concert, Merkin Concert Hall, 129 W. 67th St. (between Broadway and Amsterdam), Manhattan. $25.

Music of Julia Wolfe

Bang on a Can cofounders Julia Wolfe, David Lang and Michael Gordon. (Photo copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

We’re a little overdue with sharing this, but better late than never:

Bang on a Can cofounder and composer Julia Wolfe gets the full attention on Miller Theatre’s Composer Portraits series on Thursday, Feb. 3.

The show features two New York premieres that demonstrate the depth and breadth of Julia’s work.

On the 80-minute program are Cruel Sister (2004), based on a grisly English tale of sibling rivalry, and Fuel (2007), a collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison that examines the impact of our dependence on the title subject.

“I’m thrilled the pieces are going to be done. They really haven’t been done together like this in the U.S.,” Julia says. “The intensity and the driving, relentless aspect of my writing is there in these pieces.”

You can hear more of Julia’s thoughts on the program in Miller Theatre’s video preview of the concert. You can read the complete program notes here.

Julia’s music will be performed by the incomparable New Music ensemble Signal, led by Brad Lubman, the concert will also include an onstage discussion with Julia and WNYC’s John Schaefer.

For more from Julia Wolfe, read her interview about this performance in The New York Times.

8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 3. Miller Theatre at Columbia University, 116th St. & Broadway. http://www.millertheatre.com. $25. Tickets are available online or at the box office.

TwoSense: Old guard piano meets new guard cello

Australian pianist Lisa Moore and American cellist Ashley Bathgate join forces as TwoSense.

We at Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? can’t think of a better way to kick off the New Year than with New Music.

So we’ll be at (Le) Poisson Rouge in Manhattan on Tuesday night, Jan. 4, for the New York City debut of TwoSense. It’s a New Music Super Duo and commissioning powerhouse comprising Lisa Moore, the superb Australian pianist who was a longtime member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and Ashley Bathgate, the Saratoga Springs, N.Y., native who’s the All-Stars’ latest cellist. Oh, and in addition to playing their primary instruments, both women will sing. Lisa will also play melodica, while Ashley adds kick drum to the duo’s sound.

Ashley and Lisa are both passionate about New Music and are a joy to watch and hear.

Ashley Bathgate at (Le) Poisson Rouge in September, 2010. (Copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Here’s how they describe the mission of TwoSense:

TwoSense is a concert series and commissioning venture established by Ashley Bathgate and Lisa Moore presenting new, experimental commissions paired with mainstream works for cello and piano and guest artists. Both emerging and distinguished composers are writing works for TwoSense. The TwoSense mission seeks to ensure the inclusion of this music in the library of great chamber music. Please join us! PS – all the composers who are alive will be there!

And if the mere presence of Ashley and Lisa isn’t enough to persuade you to attend, check out the guest performers: Iva Bittová, voice/violin, Kelli Kathman, flute and Andy Akiho, steel pans.

Iva Bittová, Czech violinist, vocalist and composer, will join TwoSense at (Le) Poisson Rouge. (Copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

And then, as TwoSense says, all the living composers on the program will be in attendance. That list includes: Akiho, Bittová, Stephen Feigenbaum, Paul Kerekes, Jerome Kitzke, and Kate Moore. They’re also performing music by Leos Janacek.

TwoSense. 6:30 p.m. (show at 7:30), Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker St., Manhattan. Tickets are $15 and available by clicking here, or call (212) 505-FISH (3474).