The “relentlessly inventive” (New York Magazine) new music institution Bang on a Can will celebrate its 25th anniversary season in 2011-2012 with performances around the world, featuring a broad selection of brand new musical adventures alongside a recommitment to acclaimed projects from past years. Bang on a Can performances this season take place in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Amsterdam, Bordeaux, London, Moscow, Glasgow, and in many other places throughout the U.S. and internationally.
Projects for the 2011-2012 season include the Bang on a Can All-Stars in a dizzying array of collaborations with friends old and new – joining forces with Norwegian superstars Trio Mediaeval (in Julia Wolfe’s Steel Hammer); with percussion legend Steven Schick (in an evening of music by Steve Reich in Los Angeles’s Disney Hall, featuring 2x5 and Music for 18 Musicians); with an all-new expanded live tour of Brian Eno’s ambient classic Music for Airports; and with a host of composers, visual and sound artists (in the premiere of a new evening-length touring project, Field Recordings – a collaborative program created from found sounds, images, and voices). The season also includes the premiere of a newly staged show featuring the avant marching bandAsphalt Orchestra, new CD releases on Bang on a Can’s sister-label Cantaloupe Music, and more.
Since its creation by composers Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, Bang on a Can has grown from a one-day New York-based Marathon concert (on Mother’s Day in 1987 in a SoHo art gallery) to a multi-faceted performing arts organization with a broad range of year-round international activities. In addition to the 25th anniversary of its founding, Bang on a Can is also celebrating the 20th anniversary of its electric chamber ensemble, the Bang on a Can All-Stars; the 15th anniversary of its membership-based commissioning arm, the Peoples’ Commissioning Fund; and the 10th anniversary of the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA, a professional development program for young composers and performers which connects the pioneers of experimental music to the next generation. Each new program evolved to further expose innovative music as broadly and accessibly as possible to new audiences worldwide.
“When we started Bang on a Can in 1987, in an art gallery in SoHo, we never imagined that our one-day, 12-hour marathon festival of mostly unknown music would morph into a giant international organization dedicated to the support of experimental music, wherever we would find it,” write Bang on a Can Co-Founders Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe. “But it has, and we are so gratified to be still hard at work, all these years later. The reason is really clear to us – we started this organization because we believed that making new music is a utopian act, that people needed to hear this music and they needed to hear it presented in the most persuasive way, with the best players, with the best programs, for the best listeners, in the best context. Our commitment to changing the environment for this music has kept us busy and growing for the last 25 years, and we are not done yet.”
The 2011-2012 Bang on a Can season in the U.S. kicks off on September 25, 2011 with a performance by Bang on a Can’s latest creation – the radical street band Asphalt Orchestra, bringing ambitious processional music to the mobile masses. Asphalt hits the streets of Brooklyn at the DUMBO Arts Festival with music by Brazilian iconoclast Tom Ze, Zimbabwean provocateur Thomas Mapfumo, Swedish metal band Meshuggah, and commissioned works written especially for the group by David Byrne, St. Vincent, Goran Bregovic, and more. On
October 5, 2011 Asphalt heads to the Redfern Arts Center in Keene, New Hampshire to premiere a brand new
staged indoor show with original choreography by Mark DeChiazza and Andrew Robinson. Asphalt performs throughout the U.S. during the season, and in May 2012 embarks on its first European tour.
On November 5, 2011 the Bang on a Can All-Stars take the stage at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall to perform the New York premieres of Louis Andriessen’sLife (postponed from last season due to the unpronounceable volcano in Iceland) and David Lang’s Sunray, plus Michael Gordon’s For Madeline, Kate Moore’s Ridgeway, three pieces commissioned by Bang on a Can from David Longstreth of the Dirty Projectors, and Lukas Ligeti’s Glamour Girl. Recordings of these works and more will be released on the All-Stars’ first studio album in five years: a two-CD set titled Big Beautiful Dark and Scary, to be released on Cantaloupe Music in January 2012.
Throughout 2011-12, Bang on a Can continues its three-year residency at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Last season, with MIT as a leading partner, the Bang on a Can All-Stars anchored two critically acclaimed Boston-area performances: Evan Ziporyn’s enchanting opera A House in Baliat the Cutler Majestic Theater and MIT’s New Music Marathon. Fueled by the creative energy that resulted, MIT will host the Bang on a Can All-Stars from October 2011 through April 2012 in monthly visits by the ensemble to the MIT campus for a wide range of artistic, educational, and performance activities.
The residency includes two landmark concerts at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. The Boston-area premiere of Julia Wolfe’s folk ballad Steel Hammer, featuring the All-Stars with the Norwegian vocal ensemble Trio Mediaeval, will be on November 12, 2011. Premiered to critical acclaim, Steel Hammer is a new setting of numerous competing versions telling the story of the timeless Appalachian legend of John Henry and his struggle against the steam engine. The work was runner-up for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize and stretches the standard instrumentation of Bang on a Can All-Stars with wooden bones, mountain dulcimer, banjo, and more, to evoke the rich instrumental colors of Appalachia. The concert will also include the Boston-area premiere of Timber, an explosive new percussion work by Michael Gordon scored for six graduated wooden Simantras – Greek liturgical percussion instruments introduced originally into the concert world by composer Iannis Xenakis. On March 10, 2012, MIT and Bang on a Can will offer a program of new works including Steve Reich’s recently composed double rock quintet, 2x5, scored for two sets of two electric guitars, electric bass, piano, and drums.
On January 17, 2012 at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, presented as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series, the Bang on a Can All-Stars will join forces with percussionist Steven Schick (one of the original members of the All-Stars) and his group red fish, blue fish on a program titled “2x5+18” featuring the West Coast premiere of Steve Reich’s 2x5 alongside the all-time Reich classic, Music for 18 Musicians. Reich’s Clapping Music(performed by the composer himself with the All-Stars’ percussionist David Cossin) and Piano/Video Phase, Cossin’s video-enhanced arrangement of Piano Phase for electronic percussion and video, will complete the concert. Music for 18 Musicians also anchors the All-Stars’ performance the following night,January 18, at the University of California, San Diego.
Bang on a Can’s newest project Field Recordings is set to premiere in March 2012 (venue to be announced shortly), featuring specially commissioned music by Tyondai Braxton, Mira Calix, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Christian Marclay, Julia Wolfe, Nick Zammuto of The Books, and Evan Ziporyn. Each composer has been asked to find and interact with material recorded before – found sound, images, ideas, and voices. Field Recordings is about memory, the ghosts of sound and voices from the past, and is a new touring and recording project for the Bang on a Can All-Stars for the 2012-13 season and beyond.
Summer 2012 brings Bang on a Can’s signature Bang on a Can Marathon at the World Financial Center Winter Garden in New York in June, and its three-week Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams in July. (Details will be announced in the spring.)