Bang on a Can All-Stars: More Field Recordings
New Album on Cantaloupe Music Available October 27, 2017
Music by Richard Reed Parry, Dan Deacon, Ben Frost, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Glenn Kotche, Caroline Shaw, Jace Clayton, Nico Muhly, Gabriella Smith, Paula Matthusen, Zhang Shouwang, Juan Felipe Waller, René Lussier
PLUS: Bang on a Can All-Stars in Road Trip
Saturday, October 14, 2017 at 8pm
Presented by the Ford Theatres in Los Angeles
Tickets & Information: www.fordtheatres.org
Friday and Saturday, October 27 and 28, 2017 at 7:30pm
Presented by BAM in New York
Tickets & Information: www.bam.org
**WAV downloads available upon request. Limited promo CDs available upon request.**
New York, NY – New York’s electric chamber supergroup, the Bang on a Can All-Stars (Ashley Bathgate, cello; Robert Black, bass; Vicky Chow, piano; David Cossin, percussion; Mark Stewart, electric guitar; Ken Thomson, clarinets), will release a new album, More Field Recordings, on Cantaloupe Music on October 27, 2017. This is the second installment in the All-Stars’ commissioned composer series, following 2015’s Field Recordings on Cantaloupe, which explores strange new terrain where found sound, samples, and archival audio collide with contemporary classical music, written by a wide range of artists. More Field Recordings was produced by All-Stars percussionist David Cossin and Rob Friedman.
In keeping with the “ground rules” of the Field Recordings project, each composer was asked 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. Featuring new works by thirteen artists including Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Caroline Shaw, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Dan Deacon, Ben Frost, Glenn Kotche, Jace Clayton, Nico Muhly, Gabriella Smith, Paula Matthusen, Zhang Shouwang, Juan Felipe Waller, and René Lussier, this two-disc set embraces the classical and electronic influences of the first Field Recordings collection and extends its reach into futuristic worlds of ambient and ethereal sound.
The Field Recordings project is as rooted in mystery and experimentation as it is in the collaborative spirit. In the words of David Lang, “It’s a kind of ghost story. We asked composers from different parts of the music world to find a recording of something that already exists – a voice, a sound, a faded scrap of melody – and then write a new piece around it.” In the capable hands of the All-Stars, Field Recordings taps into film, found sound and obscure audio-visual archives, bridging the gap between the seen and the unseen, the present and the absent, the past and the future.
More Field Recordings continues Bang on a Can’s 30th year festivities in 2017. The release of the album coincides with the ground-breaking collective’s brand new concert spectacular Road Trip, created to celebrate this 30-year journey, commissioned by BAM and presented as part of the 2017 BAM Next Wave Festival on Friday and Saturday, October 27 and 28, 2017 at 7:30pm at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House. The Ford Theatres will present the world premiere of Road Trip as part of its IGNITE @ the FORD! series on Saturday, October 14, 2017 at 8pm. Road Trip is both an auditory and visual tour de force, featuring music composed collaboratively by Bang on a Can’s celebrated co-founders, Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe with projections by CandyStations and stage direction by Michael Counts.
Founded in 1987, Bang on a Can is committed more than ever to an increasing and inclusive worldwide community dedicated to innovation through music; a world where ideas flow freely across boundaries; musical, geographical, spiritual. Co-founders Gordon, Lang, and Wolfe explain, “Thirty years ago we started dreaming of the world we wanted to live in. It would be a kind of utopia for music: all the boundaries between composers would come down, all the boundaries between genres would come down, all the boundaries between musicians and audience would come down. Then we started trying to build it. Building a utopia is a political act – it pushes people to change. It is also an act of resistance to the things that keep us apart.”
About the music on More Field Recordings:
1. Caroline Shaw’s Really Craft When You (7:02; 2016) includes recordings of interviews conducted in the 1970s with quilters from North Carolina (Shaw’s home state) and Virginia, archived by the Library of Congress. Shaw says, “I loved the way they talked about design, and about patience – about where you start when you start something new, and how you get through it to the end. I’ve written some quilting squares of music for the All-Stars to stitch together, and I hope you enjoy it.”
2. Gabriella Smith’s Panitao (4:21; 2016) includes a dawn chorus Smith recorded while working on a small, family farm in a town called Panitao in Southern Chile, surrounded by fjords, volcanos, and temperate rainforest. Smith says, “For this piece, I decided to write imaginary bird songs for the instruments to play along with this Chilean dawn. In the beginning of the piece, I slowed the recording down to less than quarter speed and pitch to produce a bizarre, otherworldly soundscape and then let it gradually ascend and speed up to recognizable bird song over the course of the piece.”
3. Jace Clayton’s Lethe’s Children (4:41; 2015) is about memory and forgetting, inspired by the idea that the first songs we learn are some of the ones that stay with us the longest. Clayton explains, “I began by asking each member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars what was the first song they memorized as young children. Those then became the musical DNA of the piece.”
4. Paula Matthusen’s ontology of an echo (5:49; 2013) is inspired by the composer’s longstanding fascination with the subterranean, and includes recordings made in the Old Croton Aqueduct, which first supplied fresh water to New York City in 1842. Matthusen explains, “The Bang on a Can All-Stars, responding to the recordings made in the Aqueduct, provided their own variations upon listening to fragments provided to them. Their recordings were then projected back into the Old Croton Aqueduct at the Ossining Weir, and repeatedly rerecorded as a way of deriving resonant frequencies of the space.” The title is excerpted from Brandon LaBelle’s Acoustic Territories.
5. Glenn Kotche’s Time Spirals (6:32; 2015) incorporates recordings that Kotche made over the years during his travels, including recordings from several continents and spanning all twelve months of the year. The piece is rooted in drumkit grooves, more specifically demos from his library of audio notes – one for each month in which it was first documented. Kotche says, “The field recordings are also from my library of recordings – a total of 48 – 4 from each month of the year. These range from parades, festivals and protests to heaters, singing and dying electronic toys. Time Spirals mirrors my experiences through the years and evokes the blurring of time and place that happens as we accumulate memories and age.”
6. Zhang Shouwang’s Courtyards in Central Beijing (5:43; 2016) is a piece about the courtyard houses of old Beijing. Zhang Shouwang explains: “The office workers say that the ugly skyscrapers, the highways, the shopping malls, and the buses will soon destroy every hutong and courtyard house, and they say it as if they are sad. But they are lying. The courtyard houses are always there, in every secret part of the old city. I wrote this song in a courtyard house with a pomegranate tree, south of Gulou, two minutes from the Yuan emperor’s lake where Marco Polo swam. Here the feng shui is so strong that a flower seed can bloom in just three days. As proud cars and impolite trucks make noise all day on the highway from where you enter my hutong, an antique man still walks by every morning singing his knife-sharpening song. I tell myself that this is what Beijing really sounds like, but I am not sure if I am lying just like the office workers.”
7. Nico Muhly’s Comfortable Cruising Altitude (4:40; 2017) uses two pieces of found audio: an overnight transatlantic flight with a relatively calm atmosphere, and then another with the presence of crying babies. The ensemble acts as a sleeping traveler, existing in an ambient space but with the anticipatory shimmers that accompany the miracle of air travel.
1. Ben Frost’s Negative Ghostrider II (7:49; 2015) includes recordings of the Northrop X-47B, an unmanned semi-autonomous drone aircraft, which recently underwent a series of critical flight tests from the deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. In late 2014, working with visual artist Richard Mosse, Ben Frost traveled to the carrier at an undisclosed location in the Atlantic Ocean to document these tests. This piece is both an acoustic translation of field recordings made on location, and a personal reflection upon the experience. By January 2012 the disclosed cost to the American taxpayer of the X-47b program was an estimated $813 million.
2. Richard Reed Parry’s The Brief and Neverending Blur (5:08; 2014) began as a quiet piano improvisation: sparse chords played at the speed of the composer’s own breathing, recorded on an old dictaphone tape recorder. Parry explains, “The tape recorder got accidentally left in a shed and sat there through an entire Montreal winter, spring and summer. When it was recovered the following fall, and the tape revisited, both the machine and the contents of the reel of tape seemed to have aged well beyond their years –physically and sonically.” The piece is a continuation of Parry’s Music for Heart and Breath series of compositions, all of which use the breathing rates or heart rates of the performers to dictate how the music is played. The players wear stethoscopes to be able to play in synch with their own hearts.
3. Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Fields (5:41; 2016) conjures images of a solitary twilight stroll among the otherworldly lava fields of the composer’s native Iceland. “Nature provides me with my greatest inspiration when it comes to writing music,” she says. “These inspirations – and the internal listening that results from them – provide me with the concepts that motivate me to portray these visualizations in music.”
4. Dan Deacon’s Sago An Ya Rev (6:04; 2013) is a slow, textural morphing transcription of a NASA Voyager recording; the piece is a dark-ambient drone. In live performance, audience members with smartphones join the performance using the free Dan Deacon App. The app uses custom software to synchronize all the phones at the concert, turning the audience into a spatial light and sound source to accompany the All-Stars.
5. Juan Felipe Waller’s Hybrid Ambiguities (6:18; 2017) utilizes a field recording of the echoing sounds of a microtonal harp, originally invented by Julian Carrillo in the 1940s. Waller says, “Ambiguity leads to the plausibility of several interpretations. While writing this piece, one question constantly kept arising: Is the use of a field recording establishing a specific context for the music, or is actually the written music creating a new setting to frame the field recording?”
6. Of his piece, Nocturnal (6:35; 2016), René 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 score is inspired by my sweetheart sleeping.”
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 30 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, 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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