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27
Mar

Ecstatic Music Festival 2014: Bang on a Can All-Stars

Ecstatic-Music-Festival_LogoBefore Kickstarter, before buzz words like “crowd-funding” and even before the internet was introduced into most of our homes (let alone a place where we can spend our money) Bang On A Can was on the frontier with the People’s Commissioning Fund. Since 1997, Bang On A Can has commissioned over 40 new pieces from a variety of emerging composers through the PCF. In fact, the composers are so diverse that the annual concert event has notoriously blurred the lines of style and genre beyond just “contemporary classical” music.

Bang on a Can All-Stars - Photo by Monika Graff

Bang on a Can All-Stars – Photo by Monika Graff

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13
Feb

Kettle Corn, Beer and a Laid Back Approach to New Music

dimenna-center-logoFriday evening, January 24, 2014, at the DiMenna Center began with the distinct smell of kettle corn and the refreshing sound of beer cans opening to signify the end of a another work week. The performance space, a large acoustic rehearsal room for the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, was occupied with a mix of spectators young and old as well as two very talented performers. A surprisingly casual affair, MC and solo violinist for the evening Todd Reynolds took front and center to introduce the works and supply a little banter which engaged the well-imbibed audience. He embraced much of the mission of this new concert series called Kettle Corn New Music which is based on the idea of “sharing music with friends” and finding an “alternative to more formal, traditional concerts.”

Photo by Karjaka Studios, Photographed at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music.

Photo by Karjaka Studios, Photographed at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music.

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13
Sep

Something to be sought: Ergodos Musicians “I Call To You”

ergodos-musicians-logoIn 2008, the structure of the world’s financial institutions were in free fall. With banks scrambling to pick up the pieces from unsavory dealings – ultimately leading to an erosion of trust for authority as a whole – it left many with uncertainty about their own future. Not many countries in the western world were hurt more than Ireland, which saw cuts in industry, education and most importantly health services. An overall sense of panic struck the nation as students, workers and citizens took to the streets to show contempt with how their government and those financial institutions handled the situation.

In social crisis situations music can be a powerful response as seen in the protests of Estonia, Latvia and many of other eastern European nations during the end of the Soviet occupation. I Call To You, conceived “in the darker moments of Ireland’s financial crisis” is much less of a protest than an overall snapshot of a bleak situation. A peaceful, yet forlorn cry for their nation, the Ergodos Musicians extend their talents and use a powerful mediator in composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

Meeting at Lehman Brothers on the verge of bankruptcy, London, 2008 (Photo: Kevin Coombs)

Meeting at Lehman Brothers on the verge of bankruptcy, London, 2008 (Photo: Kevin Coombs)

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22
Mar

Ecstatic Music Festival 2013: Bang on a Can All-Stars

Kaufman Music CenterThe Bang on a Can All-Stars presented the seventh concert of the quickly growing Ecstatic Music Festival, billed as the “nexus of New York City’s indie classical scene,” on Thursday, March 14, 2013. In an unusual twist, the foyer of Merkin Concert Hall in the Kaufman Center was scattered with signs urging the concert-goers to use their cellphones… to download a copy of Dan Deacon’s app, which is used at many of his shows to involve the audience in the performance. The concert offered “hot-off-the-stove music” with a common thread: composing around some form of prepared field recordings. Most of the pieces were premieres made possible by the annual Bang on a Can People’s Commissioning Fund, a project that helps to “fund a partnership between artists and the audience.”

Bang on a Can All-Stars - Photo by David Andrako

Bang on a Can All-Stars – Photo by David Andrako

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25
Jan

Hotel Elefant Brings Versatility To New Chamber Music

Last October, I CARE IF YOU LISTEN featured a video of the freshly deployed new music ensemble Hotel Elefant as they were preparing a work of composer Michael Gordon for their upcoming concert titled Dia De Los Muertos. Their Concert II was to focus on the theme “remembrance,” featuring new works by notable young composers as well as two compositions by Gordon. Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy prevented concert from occurring on its originally planned date. Undaunted, Hotel Elefant eventually presented concert on Saturday, January 12, 2013.

Contemporary music ensemble Hotel Elefant (photo credit: hotelelfant.org)

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22
Dec

Two Modern Requiems Help To Reflect After Sandy

French twentieth-century organ composer Maurice Duruflé and contemporary American composer Gregory Spears seem like an odd pair. But on November 14, 2012, works of the two composers were on exhibition, showcasing two modern settings of the requiem at the French-gothic inspired Park Avenue Christian Church in New York City. In this case, both composers were inspired by something ancient while sustaining their own ability to creatively innovate. As I entered the church, the sanctuary was half filled with darkness. The other half was lit by candles flickering against the stone window frames and stained glass that lined the nave. The whole setting seemed to be an appropriate (yet completely unplanned) meditation, in light of the devastating damage by Hurricane Sandy that had ripped through the New York region just a couple of weeks before.

Organist David Enlow (photo credit: davidenlow.com)

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