Bang on a Can presents the 2016 People’s Commissioning Fund (PCF) Concert
Part of the Ecstatic Music Festival
Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 7:30pm
World premieres by PCF composers Caroline Shaw, Gabriella Smith,
Zhang Shouwang & René Lussier plus music by Julia Wolfe
Featuring the Bang on a Can All-Stars
With special guests Trinity Choir led by Julian Wachner
Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 7:30pm | Merkin Concert Hall
Kaufman Music Center | 129 W. 67th St. | NYC
Tickets: $25 at 212.501.3330 or www.ecstaticmusicfestival.com
“Merkin Hall was a mob scene…At five minutes to 8, the line of ticket buyers snaked out the door…It was an evening that was packed in every sense: with people, with ideas, with music.” – The New York Times
New York, NY — On Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 7:30pm, Bang on a Can will present the 2016 Bang on a Can People’s Commissioning Fund concert, one of the most anticipated and reliable launching pads for composers in New York and beyond, as part of Kaufman Music Center’s Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Concert Hall (Kaufman Music Center, 129 W. 67th St.). This year the Bang on a Can All-Stars will give the world premieres of works by four PCF-commissioned composers: Caroline Shaw, Gabriella Smith, Zhang Shouwang of the Beijing band Carsick Cars and René Lussier. The concert will also include Julia Wolfe’s “Reeling” from Field Recordings and “Breaker Boys” with Trinity Choir led by Julian Wachner from Wolfe’s 2015 Pulitzer-prize winning work Anthracite Fields, also nominated for a Grammy this year. John Schaefer of WNYC-FM will host the evening for future radio broadcasts on his program, “New Sounds Live;” the concert will be webcast live on Q2 Music and will be available for on-demand listening at Q2Music.org.
The newly commissioned PCF works will go on to be included in Field Recordings, Bang on a Can’s growing multimedia project. Field Recordings asks composers to go into the field of recorded sound itself – to find something old or record something new – and to respond with their own music, in dialogue with what they found. With Field Recordings, one hundred years of sound and imagery unfold to reveal a contemporary collective consciousness channeled through the Bang on a Can All-Stars. The project so far includes commissioned works by Tyondai Braxton, Mira Calix, Jace Clayton, Anna Clyne, Dan Deacon, Bryce Dessner, Ben Frost, Florent Ghys, Michael Gordon, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Glenn Kotche, David Lang, Alvin Lucier, Christian Marclay, Paula Matthusen, Richard Reed Parry, Steve Reich, Todd Reynolds, Jarosław Śliwiński, Daniel Wohl, Krzysztof Wołek, Julia Wolfe, Artur Zagajewski, and Nick Zammuto. The All-Stars’ recording Field Recordings was released in May 2015 on Cantaloupe Music.
René Lussier’s new field recording for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Nocturne, is inspired by an intimate observation. Lussier says, “In the last 30 years, I have often transcribed and transposed spoken language into music. I did the same with chickens, various tools, motors, etc. Everyday life sounds inspire me for new frame works, new directions. This time, the music is generated by my sweetheart sleeping. The rhythm and drama of her breathing, the melodies of her snoring.” Lussier, a native of Quebec, Canada, is a composer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist known to New York audiences for his years of collaboration in the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet.
2013 Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw’s new piece has an unexpected inspiration as well. Shaw says, “I’m working with Library of Congress recordings from the 1970s, of quilters from North Carolina and Virginia talking about quilting. I love the way they speak about design and craft, about technique and imagination.”
Gabriella Smith says, “I get a lot of my inspiration from the forms, structures, and energies in the natural world, and I also like math, which can describe these forms, designs, and energies so elegantly.” Smith comes from the San Francisco Bay area and she is currently a 2015-16 ArtistYear Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music, dedicating a citizen-artist year of national service in the Philadelphia region.
Zhang Shouwang, frontman for the popular Beijing rock band Carsick Cars and the experimental group White, has been one of the driving forces behind China’s underground music scene for the last decade. Incarnations of Shouwang’s “White Project” have ranged from the guitar sextet White Ensemble, a rock duo called White 2J, an electronic duo called White+, and more. Collaborators include the likes of legendary New Yorkers Sonic Youth and German avant-noise pioneers Einstürzende Neubauten.
Julia Wolfe’s Reeling is also part of the Field Recordings project. For it, she used a clip of French Canadian singer Benoit Benoit as her field recording. Wolfe says, “He sings a very special kind of music that’s basically the music that you make when you don’t have a fiddle or banjo handy. There is a personal connection for me in folk – where my music making began. I’m connecting my own history to his singing.”
A special added highlight of the concert features the All-Stars and Trinity Choir performing “Breaker Boys” from Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning oratorio Anthracite Fields. The text draws on oral histories, speeches, geographic descriptions, local rhymes, and a coal advertisement. For the work, Wolfe conducted personal interviews, including with a third-generation miner and the daughter and granddaughter of miners, and journeyed into both an active and a closed mine. The Los Angeles Times writes that the piece, “captures not only the sadness of hard lives lost . . . but also of the sweetness and passion of a way of daily life now also lost. The music compels without overstatement. This is a major, profound work.” Of “Breaker Boys” specifically, BBC Music Magazine writes that Anthracite Fields, “find its emotional heart in a rock-driven child’s rhyme ‘Mickey Pick-Slate,’ interleaved with still laments on the ‘Poor little breaker boys,’ children as young as seven who used to pick out debris with bleeding hands.” The Cantaloupe Music recording of Anthracite Fields is nominated for a 2016 Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.
About the Bang on a Can All-Stars: The Bang on a Can All-Stars are Ashley Bathgate, cello; Robert Black, bass; Vicky Chow, piano; David Cossin, percussion; Mark Stewart, guitars; and Ken Thomson, clarinets. Formed in 1992, the All-Stars are recognized worldwide for their ultra-dynamic live performances and recordings of today’s most innovative music. Freely crossing the boundaries between classical, jazz, rock, world and experimental music, this six-member amplified ensemble has consistently forged a distinct category-defying identity, taking music into uncharted territories. Performing each year throughout the U.S. and internationally, the All-Stars have shattered the definition of what concert music is today.
Together, the All-Stars have worked in unprecedented close collaboration with some of the most important and inspiring musicians of our time, including Steve Reich, Ornette Coleman, Burmese circle drum master Kyaw Kyaw Naing, Tan Dun, DJ Spooky, and many more. The group’s celebrated projects include their landmark recordings of Brian Eno’s ambient classic Music for Airports and Terry Riley’s In C, as well as live performances with Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, Don Byron, Iva Bittova, Thurston Moore, Owen Pallett and others. The All-Stars were awarded Musical America’s Ensemble of the Year in 2005 and have been heralded as “the country’s most important vehicle for contemporary music” by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Recent project highlights include the premiere performances and Grammy-nominated recording of Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize winning Anthracite Fields for the All-Stars and guest choir, the record release of Wolfe’s acclaimed Steel Hammer, featuring Trio Mediaeval, plus a brand new staged collaboration with SITI Company and director Ann Bogart; Field Recordings, a major new multi-media project and CD/DVD featuring over 20 commissioned works by Tyondai Braxton, Mira Calix, Anna Clyne, Bryce Dessner, Florent Ghys, Michael Gordon, Jóhann Jóhannsson, David Lang, Christian Marclay, Steve Reich, Todd Reynolds, Julia Wolfe, and more; the world premiere, performances, and recording of Steve Reich’s 2×5 including a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall; the world premiere of The Lord in the Clouds, a new collaboration featuring Chinese superstar singer Gong Linna and the group’s multiple visits to China for the Beijing Music Festival and Hong Kong Arts Festival. With a massive repertoire of works written specifically for the group’s distinctive instrumentation and style of performance, the All-Stars have become a genre in their own right. The All-Stars record on Cantaloupe Music and have released past recordings on Sony, Universal and Nonesuch.
About Bang on a Can: Bang on a Can is dedicated to making music new. Since its first Marathon concert in 1987, Bang on a Can has been creating an international community dedicated to innovative music, wherever it is found. With adventurous programs, it commissions new composers, performs, presents, and records new work, develops new audiences, and educates the musicians of the future. Bang on a Can is building a world in which powerful new musical ideas flow freely across all genres and borders. Bang on a Can plays “a central role in fostering a new kind of audience that doesn’t concern itself with boundaries. If music is made with originality and integrity, these listeners will come” (The New York Times).
Over 28 years, 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. “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 28 years, and we are not done yet.”
Current projects include the annual Bang on a Can Marathon; The People’s Commissioning Fund, a membership program to commission emerging composers; the Bang on a Can All-Stars, who tour to major festivals and concert venues around the world every year; recording projects; the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival – a professional development program for young composers and performers led by today’s pioneers of experimental music; Asphalt Orchestra, Bang on a Can’s extreme street band that offers mobile performances re-contextualizing unusual music; Found Sound Nation, a new technology-based musical outreach program now partnering with the State Department of the United States of America to create OneBeat, a revolutionary, post-political residency program that uses music to bridge the gulf between young American musicians and young musicians from developing countries; cross-disciplinary collaborations and projects with DJs, visual artists, choreographers, filmmakers and more. Each new program has evolved to answer specific challenges faced by today’s musicians, composers and audiences, in order to make innovative music widely accessible and wildly received. Bang on a Can’s inventive and aggressive approach to programming and presentation has created a large and vibrant international audience made up of people of all ages who are rediscovering the value of contemporary music.
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