How to make guitar history

Seth Olinsky (center), performing with his band Akron/Family at NYC's Bowery Ballroom on May 6 will be a section leader for Rhys Chatham's <i>A Crimson Grail (Outdoor Version)</i> at Damrosch Park in August.

Seth Olinsky (center), performing with his band Akron/Family at NYC's Bowery Ballroom on May 6 will be a section leader for Rhys Chatham's A Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars (Outdoor Version) in Damrosch Park in August. (Photo by SPM. All rights reserved.)

If I could play the electric guitar, I know where I’d be this August: in New York City rehearsing and playing in the world premiere of Rhys Chatham‘s A Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars (Outdoor Version) at Lincoln Center Out of Doors in Damrosch Park.

If you can play, you should consider applying. You’re eligible if you’re  a professional, semi-pro or competent amateur electric guitarist (there’s room for a few bass players, too) who can read music. This is your big chance to play this minimalist masterpiece with 199 other performers from around the country and make some history.

The piece — a version of the expansive original written by Chatham for indoor performance in Paris by 400 guitarists — is composed to create a glistening cloud of sound, obscuring most details of individual plucking, strumming the technique in its wake. So performers need to check their egos at the door and be prepared to be part of a six-string mind meld of sorts.

This outdoor version was slated to be premiered at Lincoln Center Out of Doors last summer, but was canceled at the last minute over the objection of most of the 200 guitarists because of rain.

If the weather cooperates this summer, the chosen guitarists will get to work under the tutelage of accomplished section leaders David Daniell (improvisational guitarist and composer), John King (guitarist and composer who’s worked with Kronos Quartet and the Bang on a Can All-Stars, among others), Seth Olinsky (Akron/Family) and Ned Sublette (The Ned Sublette Band).

As with most things in life, there’s lots of fine print. Read it all here. It’s nothing terribly onerous — you basically just have to show up for 12 hours of rehearsal over three days prior to the performance (Aug. 5-7). Oh, and you have to commit to spending Aug. 8 in a daylong soundcheck, rehearsal and the actual show. Oh, and the only pay is the satisfaction of a job well done. But that should be a pretty good payoff.

Still game? Then apply here!

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