Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize-Winning Work Anthracite Fields
Performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars & The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Julian Wachner, conductor
Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 9pm
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall | 57th St. and 7th Ave. | NYC
Tickets ($54 and $65): www.carnegiehall.org, CarnegieCharge 212.247.7800, or the Carnegie Hall Box Office
More about Anthracite Fields: www.bangonacan.org/staged_productions/anthracite_fields
New York, NY — On Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 9pm, New York’s electric chamber ensemble, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, joins forces with The Choir of Trinity Wall Street led by conductor Julian Wachner to perform Bang on a Can co-founder Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work Anthracite Fields at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall (57th St. and 7th Ave.). Wolfe and scenographer Jeff Sugg join John Schaefer, host of WNYC’s New Sounds and Soundcheck, in a pre-concert talk in the hall at 8pm. This is the first New York performance of Anthracite Fields since its pre-Pulitzer premiere in 2014.
Julia Wolfe’s haunting, poignant and relentlessly physical Anthracite Fields, is an examination of the coal-mining industry so musically and socially provocative that it netted the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Music. In Anthracite Fields, Wolfe draws on oral histories, interviews, speeches, geographic descriptions, local rhymes, and coal advertisements to create a work that gives an intimate look at a particular slice of American life. With visually stunning projections by scenographer Jeff Sugg and music that is at times elegiac, hard-driving, and tender, Anthracite Fields is a deeply moving oratorio which honors the people who persevered and endured in the Pennsylvania Anthracite coal region during a time when the industry fueled the nation. Mark Swed of The Los Angeles Times remarks, “[Anthracite Fields] 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.”
Named after the technical term for the purest form of coal, anthracite, Anthracite Fields was written after Wolfe did extensive research about the coal mining industry in an area very near where she grew up in Pennsylvania. She writes, “In some ways the piece is a return to my small town Pennsylvania roots. In looking north – the left turn onto route 309, the road-rarely-taken – I delved into a local history.” She continues, “My aim with Anthracite Fields is to honor the people who persevered and endured in the Pennsylvania Anthracite coal region during a time when the industry fueled the nation, and to reveal a bit about who we are as American workers.”
Cited by the Pulitzer committee as, “a powerful oratorio for chorus and sextet evoking Pennsylvania coal-mining life around the turn of the 20th Century,” the work premiered at the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia in April 2014 followed by a performance at the NY PHIL BIENNIAL in May 2014. The New York Times wrote, “In Ms. Wolfe’s polished and stylistically assured cantata, the overall coherence of the musical material helped her expressions of outrage to burn cleanly and brightly.”
About Julia Wolfe: Julia Wolfe, a 2016 MacArthur Fellow, winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in music, and just named Musical America’s Composer of the Year, draws inspiration from folk, classical, and rock genres, bringing a modern sensibility to each while simultaneously tearing down the walls between them.
Wolfe’s music is distinguished by an intense physicality and a relentless power that pushes performers to extremes and demands attention from the audience. Recent projects include her evening-length Steel Hammer for the Bang on a Can All-Stars and singers which is touring in an expanded theatrical form with director Anne Bogart and her SITI Company and received its New York premiere at BAM’s 2015 Next Wave festival. Wolfe’s body concerto riSE and fLY, commissioned by the BBC and performed last season by the Cincinnati Symphony, featured percussionist Colin Currie playing rapid-fire body slaps and street percussion. The New York Philharmonic recently announced her new commission for orchestra and women’s chorus that will premiere in January 2019. For the Philharmonic commission, Wolfe continues her interest in American labor history with the subject of women in New York’s garment industry at the turn of the century.
Wolfe has written a major body of work for strings, from quartets to full orchestra. Her quartets, as described by The New Yorker, “combine the violent forward drive of rock music with an aura of minimalist serenity [using] the four instruments as a big guitar, whipping psychedelic states of mind into frenzied and ecstatic climaxes.” Wolfe’s Cruel Sister for string orchestra, inspired by a traditional English ballad, was commissioned by the Munich Chamber Orchestra and received its U.S. premiere at the Spoleto Festival. Fuel for string orchestra is a collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison. She has collaborated with theater artist Anna Deveare Smith, choreographer Susan Marshall, designers Jeff Sugg and Jim Findlay, and director François Girard, among others. Her music has been heard at venues throughout the world, including the Sydney Olympic Arts Festival, LG Arts Center (South Korea), Settembre Musica (Italy), Theatre de la Ville (France), the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall, and has been recorded on Cantaloupe Music, Teldec, Point/Universal, Sony Classical, and Argo/Decca.
In 2009 Wolfe joined the NYU Steinhardt School composition faculty. Wolfe is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York’s legendary music collective Bang on a Can. Her music is published by Red Poppy Music (ASCAP) and is distributed worldwide by G. Schirmer, Inc.
About the Bang on a Can All-Stars: Known worldwide as some of the best contemporary musicians, the Bang on a Can All-Stars formed in 1992 and are recognized 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. 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.
Performing throughout the U.S. and internationally, the All-Stars have shattered the definition of what concert music is today. The group’s celebrated projects include their landmark recording 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, and others. 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 All-Stars were awarded Musical America’s Ensemble of the Year and have been heralded as “the country’s most important vehicle for contemporary music” by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Recent project highlights include Road Trip, an immersive and visually stunning concert collaboratively-composed by Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe to commemorate the 30+ year journey of Bang on a Can; the premiere performances and recording of Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize winning Anthracite Fields; Field Recordings, a major multi-media project featuring over 30 commissioned works by Tyondai Braxton, Mira Calix, Anna Clyne, Bryce Dessner, Michael Gordon, Jóhann Jóhannsson, David Lang, Christian Marclay, Steve Reich, Caroline Shaw, Julia Wolfe; the world premiere and album release of Cloud River Mountain, a collaboration featuring Chinese superstar singer Gong Linna; and more. 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)
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, we never imagined that our 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 at MASS MoCA – 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.
About The Choir of Trinity Wall Street: Peerless, Grammy®-nominated interpreters of both early and new music, The Choir of Trinity Wall Street has changed the realm of 21st-century vocal music, breaking new ground with an artistry described as “blazing with vigour…a choir from heaven” (The Times, London). This premier ensemble, under the direction of Julian Wachner, can be heard in New York City and around the world in performances alternately described as “thrilling” (The New Yorker), “musically top-notch” (Wall Street Journal), and “simply superb” (The New York Times). The choir leads the liturgical music on Sundays at Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel, while performing in Bach at One, Compline by Candlelight, and many other concerts and festivals throughout the year, often with the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, NOVUS NY and the Trinity Youth Chorus. Critically acclaimed annual performances of Handel’s Messiah are part of its long and storied tradition, and attending the Choir’s performances at Trinity’s annual Twelfth Night Festival and Time’s Arrow Festivals has become a tradition for many New Yorkers as well.
The Choir has toured extensively throughout the United States, making appearances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Berkeley Early Music Festival, BAM Next Wave Festival, and the Prototype Festival. The Choir is also increasingly in-demand internationally, and recent seasons have seen performances at Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and London’s Barbican Theatre. The Choir has been featured with the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the New York Philharmonic, and with the Rolling Stones on their 50th anniversary tour. In 2017, the Choir will be featured in the 150 Psalms Project, performing at the Utrecht Festival and Lincoln Center’s White Light’s Festival.
In addition to its Grammy®-nominated Israel in Egypt CD, The Choir of Trinity Wall Street has released several recordings on Naxos, Musica Omnia, VIA Recordings, ARSIS, and Avie Records. Trinity’s long-term commitment to new music is evident on these recordings, just as it is in collaborations with living composers including Du Yun, Paola Prestini, Ralf Gawlick, Elena Ruehr, and Julia Wolfe, whose 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning and Grammy-nominated work, Anthracite Fields, was recorded with the Choir. The Choir collaborated on Du Yun’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work, Angel’s Bone, which was presented in Trinity Church as a work-in-progress in 2014 and at the Prototype Festival as a fully staged production in 2016, on both occasions with the participation of the Choir and NOVUS NY, conducted by Julian Wachner.
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