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.

What makes the Bang on a Can effort unique is the fact that all the commissions are written for the organization’s house band, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, a singular sextet comprising guitar, double bass, piano, cello, percussion and clarinet.

This year, the Peoples Commissioning Fund concert features four world premieres:

“A Wonderful Day,” by multimedia musician Anna Clyne, who crafted her piece using the spoken and sung words of Chicago street musician Wooly.

“Sago An Ya Rev,” by electronica wiz Dan Deacon, marking his third appearance on Ecstatic Music Festival’s calendar. The piece, which uses a transcription of a NASA Voyager transmission, will feature audience participation, a hallmark of Deacon’s work, via a smartphone app.

“ontology of an echo,” by electro-acoustic experimentalist and installation artist Paula Matthusen, built on sounds recorded at historic New York City locations.

“Hz,” by Jóhann Jóhannsson, inspired by a hydroelectric power plant in his native Iceland.

Two other pieces, not commissioned by Bang on a Can, will round out the program: the world premiere of “TREMS” by indie rocker and Bang on a Can favorite Tyondai Braxton and “Weltinsein” by composer/singer Fay Kueen Wang.

Support the effort with your contribution

Click here to make your own contribution to Bang on a Can’s Peoples Commissioning Fund. Your money will help create new music, and you’ll also be eligible to attend an open rehearsal the night before the concert. It’s a casual event with wine and snacks, where contributors get to hear the pieces in their final rehearsal form and chat with the composers and performers. It’s an exciting way to get to know the work and the performers.

Attend the show and hear the results

Bang on a Can People’s Commissioning Fund Concert. 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 14. Part of the Ecstatic Music Festival. Merkin Concert Hall,  Goodman House, 129 West 67th Street, New York, NY 10023. (212) 501-3330. Tickets, $25, available by clicking here.

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