Featured artists and composers include Bang on a Can founders David Lang, Michael Gordon, and Julia Wolfe, along with one of their mentors, Terry Riley — and, of course, the Bang on a Can All Stars.
But performances aren’t limited to contemporary classical. Singer-songwriter and Magnetic Fields‘ frontman Stephin Merritt is appearing in the first hour of the show, with cellist bandmate Sam Davol, to appeal to the pop audience. Another artist with proven crossover appeal, Brooklyn singer-songwriter Xenia Rubinos, appears later in the day.
Talented young composer Matt Marks — really a quadruple threat, given his beautiful singing ability, high-level horn playing (he was a founding member of leading contemporary music ensemble Alarm Will Sound), and arranging — died Friday, May 11.
He was 38.
He died in St. Louis, Missouri, where Alarm Will Sound had performed on May 9 and had been doing some recording, the band’s marketing director, Michael Clayville, tells NPR’s Deceptive Cadence blog.
Learning of the sweet, funny, and sometimes acid-tongued Marks’ death under any circumstances would have been gutting. But my first clue came when composer Ted Hearne’s heartfelt tribute turned up in my Facebook feed Saturday night. I was in New Music setting that was such a familiar part of Marks’ life: at the Alexander Kasser Theater in Montclair, New Jersey, for a Peak Performances presentation of Julia Wolfe and Maya Beiser’s “Spinning,”with composer David Lang and artist Suzanne Bocanegra among the members of the audience.
The context — Peak Performances has a track record of incubating powerful new works, including David T. Little’s “Dog Days,” which springs from a well that also nourished Marks’ work — made the news of his death that much more of a gut punch.
Marks’ passing was announced on Facebook by his fiancee, Mary Kouyoumdjian.
No cause of death was given.
Alarm Will Sound posted an announcement hours after Kouyoumdjian, which precisely repeated her parting admonition: “We appreciate your sensitivity during this difficult time.”
The always funny Marks — he frequently offered random, wry, witty commentary on Twitter, lately as “Matt Marks (aka JonBenét Gramsci)” and for many years, simply under the childlike moniker “Mafoo” — died the morning after he tweeted news that the National Endowment for the Arts had approved a $10,000 grant for the staging of his splendid opera, “Mata Hari” (seen last year at New York’s Prototype Festival) at the West Edge Opera in Berkeley, California, in August.
— Matt Marks (aka JonBenét Gramsci) (@mattmarks) May 10, 2018
WATCH: An excerpt from composer Matt Marks’ opera “Mata Hari”:
I saw and was impressed by “Mata Hari” at Prototype — where the composer, as always made a point to offer a cheerful hello — Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? last posted about him in 2010, after a performance of his earlier work, “The Little Death: Vol. 1,” which he also performed with soprano Mellissa Hughes.
So, I couldn’t say I knew him well, and don’t wish to take anything away from his close friends and family. I simply knew him through his often brilliant and usually funny work, and his public persona of a down-to-earth person who was consistently pleasant and friendly.
Marks had only begun to reveal the full extent of his ability. He’s a composer who always held a special place in my heart because I got to see him and his work early on and watch him grow and blossom.
R.I.P. Matt Marks.
WATCH: The Beatles’ “Revolution No. 9,” arranged by Matt Marks:
Bang on a Can, the premiere purveyor of New Music in New York City, is rebooting its iconic Marathon concert with a move to Brooklyn in May, after a year off. Organizers promise it will be an “8-hour marathon concert of politics, resistance, and love.”
The Marathon lost its downtown Manhattan home of a decade at the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center (now renamed Brookfield Place). The organizers skipped a 2016 edition, but promised a new location for the its 30th anniversary this year.
They delivered on that promise Thursday, announcing that the genre-busting musical celebration lands at the Brooklyn Museumon May 6, from 2-10 p.m.
The Marathon was somewhat itinerant prior to its 10-year run at the Winter Garden, spending time at mostly Manhattan venues, ranging from the Soho art gallery where it started in 1987, to the Abrons Arts Center in the Lower East Side, to Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.
Despite its Manhattan roots, this won’t be the first time the Marathon was held in Brooklyn. In 2000 and 2001, it was staged at BAM, just a block or two away from Bang on a Can’s longtime headquarters on Hanson Place in Fort Greene. Continue reading →
Roomful of Teeth, Jherek Bischoff, Anonymous 4, So Percussion, more featured on 8-hour program
Head to the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place at the World Financial Center in lower Manhattan on Sunday afternoon for a fantastic exploration of New Music.
The 2014 edition of the annual Bang on a Can Marathon starts at 2 p.m. and runs through 10 p.m. You can come and go as you please, sampling everything from serious compositions by Bang on a Can‘s founding composers — Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, and David Lang — to works by rock band The National’s Bryce Dessner, along with performances by the inimitable Meredith Monk, Jherek Bischoff, So Percussion, and female vocal quartet Anonymous 4.
This event is really a must to experience in person — you’ll see artists mingling with audience in chance encounters throughout the show, get to see and buy CDs and merchandise at the huge merch table, and maybe even take a break to go shopping in the urban mall.
And be sure to check out Found Sound Nation, which hosts its Street Studio – a mobile recording studio where anyone can spontaneously create and record original music!
If you can’t get there, you don’t have to miss out, though. It will be webcast in HD audio and videol.
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?
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.)
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.
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.
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, email@example.com, 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.
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.
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.
Shows we think you should check out during the week of Oct. 3-9
Composer Julia Wolfe (Photo by Peter Serling)
The Music of Julia Wolfe at (Le) POISSON ROUGE
Julia Wolfe is a composer of rare talent. The Bang on a Can cofounder is able to write in a classical idiom for string quartet as easily as in a rock mode for percussion ensemble.
On Oct. 3, she’ll be presenting a sampling of her work, including Stronghold for eight double basses, the string quartet Dig Deep, and LAD for bagpipes. at (Le) Poisson Rouge. Julia will be in the house to discuss her work.
Performers include JACK Quartet, Robert Black and the Hartt Bass Band, and piper Matthew Welch.
Kronos Quartet, the pioneering modern string quartet, make two rare club appearances in New York City this week.
On Friday and Saturday, Oct. 8 and 9, Kronos is appearing at (Le) Poisson Rouge.
The program for Oct. 8 includes the New York premiere of Maria Schneider‘s String Quartet No. 1, a world premiere by Aleksandra Vrebalov, the premiere of Bang on a Can cofounder Michael Gordon‘s Exalted with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City and works by Bryce Dessner and Missy Mazzoli. On Oct. 9 Kronos is joined by special guest vocalist Judith Berkson for several pieces. Also featured are Clouded Yellow by Gordon as well as works by Clint Mansell, J.G. Thirlwell, and Dan Visconti.