By Daniel L. Muñoz Bay Area composer Nick Vasallo smelts heavy metal aesthetics with Western classical techniques to create new sonic alloys never heard before. Vasallo’s work is a fresh music that may help usher in a new audience for classical music. It is dramatic, aggressive, moody, introspective, and thoughtful. Vasallo is dedicated to a multilingual stylistic pluralism spanning Western art music traditions, indigenous Asian musics, and heavy metal genres. As a staunch advocate for local musicians, he is committed to serving the San Francisco Bay Area new music community not only by curating the annual Bay Area Modern Music festival (!BAMM!) but also by featuring many Bay Area performers in his music videos.
Mobius Trio – Videography by Gabriel Zuniga
Watch an exclusive video premiere of San Francisco’s MOBIUS TRIO performing Vasallo’s “Dark Matter” at the end of this article.
Sonic Alchemy—A Skilled Forging
How is it that Vasallo hopes to resolve the seemingly disparate styles—classical and metal? “[T]he unifying element is quite simple: precision” (Vasallo, 2007). Precision as a unifying principle is tied to virtuosity and skilled technique. These techniques include the gymnastic displays of fast fingers across fretboard, fingerboard, piano keys, wind-instrument keys, drumsticks and mallets, to the usage of a variety of classical music forms and contrapuntal techniques. Vasallo is able to harness and develop thematic ideas in the manner of the canonic masters since JS Bach, slide and resolve his pungent harmonic dissonances like Gesualdo, create dark soto voce moods in the manner of Mozart’s late style, use an orchestra like a giant percussion ensemble with violent subtactile punctuations like Stravinsky (in his “Russian” phase), move masses of tone clusters like Ligeti, and shred with lightning-fingered accuracy like Randy Rhoads (or Paganini). By incorporating a variety of techniques from different eras and melding them with the music of his own youth, Vasallo forges a music that is firmly rooted in the distant past and the not-so-distant past while speaking to the present.
MATA Interval 7.2 presents composer collective W4 and Contemporaneous in the world premiere of Moby Dick: Extracts on Death and Other Curiosities on Friday, February 21 at 8:00 pm at Brooklyn’s ISSUE Project Room.
We met with 50% of So Percussion—Adam Sliwinski and Eric Beach—to talk about their upcoming Carnegie Hall concert, American Patterns, on November 23, 2013 (8 PM pre-concert talk with David Lang/So Percussion + 9 PM gig). It was also the perfect opportunity to look back on So Percussion’s career and have a sneak peek at their brand new studio in Brooklyn.
So Percussion is: Eric Beach | Josh Quillen | Adam Sliwinski | Jason Treuting
The program for their Nov. 23 concert is:
BRYCE DESSNER Music for Wood and Strings (World Premiere, commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
MATMOS so-called remix (World Premiere)
SO PERCUSSION/MATMOS Carnegie Double Music (World Premiere)
On Sunday, June 16, 2013, the Bang on a Can Marathon was presented at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University, as part of the River To River Festival 2013.
Even though it felt weird not to be at the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden (the Schimmel Center was almost too intimate), the audience surely appreciated the comfort and the acoustics. Here is a video recap of the marathon in 12 minutes:
Bang on a Can Marathon 2013
00:19 – Derek Bermel: Canzonas Americanas, Mvt 1: “El Dude” | Alarm Will Sound 00:49 – Jeffrey Brooks: After the Treewatcher | Alarm Will Sound 01:19 – Peter Evans (trumpet): solo 01:51 – Charlie Piper: zoetrope | Alarm Will Sound 02:23 – Caleb Burhans: oh ye of little faith… (do you know where your children are?) | Alarm Will Sound 02:54 – Lukas Ligeti: lakoni in kazonnde* | David Cossin & Ben Reimer, drums 03:23 – Cabaret Contemporain
03:54 – Shara Worden: Before the Words | Brooklyn Youth Chorus 04:26 – Nico Muhly: Short Prayers in Respect of a Storm | Brooklyn Youth Chorus with Aleeza Meir piano and string quartet 04:57 – Kendall Williams: Conception* | NYU Contemporary Music Ensemble / NYUSTEEL, Jonathan Haas, Director/Conductor 05:27 – Yungchen Llamo & Anton Batagov: Medicine Buddha, White Palace 05:57 – John King: Astral Epitaphs | Brooklyn Youth Chorus, TILT, & John King, live electronics 06:27 – Talk Normal: XO, Shot This Time, Dedicate This Song 06:58 – Tom Zé (arr. Stephanie Richards) Mā | Asphalt Orchestra
07:41 – Julia Wolfe With a blue dress on** | Monica Germino, violin 08:11 – Hans Abrahamsen: Schnee (Ten canons for nine instruments) | Talea Ensemble 08:42 – Angélica Negrón: Drawings for Meyoko | Hotel Elefant 09:12 – Cabaret Contemporain 09:42 – David Lang: death speaks | Bang on a Can All-Stars & Shara Worden, voice 10:12 – Tamar Muskal: Mar de Leche | Maya Beiser, cello with the Provenance Project Band 10:59 – Annea Lockwood: Vortex | Bang on a Can All-Stars 11:29 – Michael Gordon: Yo Shakespeare | Bang on a Can All-Stars 12:15 – Tatsuya Yoshida: Zwimbarrac Khafzavrapp | Asphalt Orchestra
* World Premiere ** US Premiere
If you’re not into moving images, we also took some photos:
The video for Corpus was created by Satan’s Pearl Horses – a New York / Tokyo based collective that includes Jimmy Sakai, Nikolai Antonie, and Kohta Asakura. Each of the tracks off the album is accompanied by visuals during the live show. The videos each deal with a part of the body in a very abstract way – limbs, lungs, heart – so that the final one is kind of a reveal in which you get the entire picture.
[EAR HEART MUSIC] Daniel Wohl & Transit New Music – “Corps Exquis”
Tuesday, June 4, at 8:00 PM General Admission: $15 Members/Students/Seniors: $10 ..:: Website
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