Featuring World Premieres by composers Nik Bärtsch, Oscar Bettison, David Longstreth and Christine Southworth plus performances of a recently commissioned work by Michael Nyman
New York, January 20, 2010—On February 24, New York's electric ensemble Bang on a Can will present the annual People’s Commissioning Fund (PCF) concert at Merkin Concert Hall featuring four WORLD PREMIERE commissions by composers Nik Bärtsch, Oscar Bettison, David Longstreth and Christine Southworth plus performances of a recently commissioned work by Michael Nyman for a film by the celebrated 1920s New York photographer Paul Strand along with a selection from the group’s acclaimed live arrangement of Brian Eno’s ambient classic Music for Airports.
The Bang on a Can All-Stars will perform all four world premieres, and John Schaefer of WNYC will host the evening for future radio broadcast on his program “New Sounds Live.” With a program featuring music as wide-ranging as audio-sculpture, electronica, indie rock, cinematic, ambient and more, this will inevitably be a very exciting evening of new music.
The PCF was established in 1997 and has become one of Bang on a Can’s most rewarding and unique programs. Each year, Bang on a Can pools the contributions of hundreds of individuals to commission works from new and adventurous composers. Donations range from $5 to $5,000. Over the past 12 years, hundreds of people have joined together to commission music by dozens of composers. Through the PCF, Bang on a Can has put the power to change musical culture in the hands of its audience.
Past PCF commissions have been awarded to Virgil Moorefield, Dan Plonsey, Pamela Z, Toby Twining, Miya Masaoka, Edward Ruchalski, Marc Mellits, Keeril Makan, James Fei, Sussan Deyhim, Jeffrey Brooks, Matthew Shipp, John King, Eve Beglarian, Thurston Moore, Ingram Marshall, Annea Lockwood, Jim Thirlwell, Carla Kilhstedt, Cynthia Hopkins, Annie Gosfield, John Hollenbeck, Yoav Gal, Lukas Ligeti, Joshua Penman, Stefan Weisman, Tristan Perich, Ken Thomson, Erdem Helvaciaglu, Kate Moore and Lok Yin Tang.
Nik Bärtsch is a pianist and composer born in Zurich in 1971. After instruction in piano and percussion, especially in jazz, from age eight, he studied classical piano and graduated from the Musikhochschule Zurich in 1997. From 1989 to 2001 he studied philosophy, linguistics and musicology at the University of Zurich. Ongoing projects include his "ritual groove music," the acoustic group Mobile (formed in 1997 with Kaspar Rast, Mats Eser and Sha) and the zen-funk quintet Ronin (formed in 2001 with Kaspar Rast, Björn Meyer, Andi Pupato and Sha). Bärtsch was instructor for Practical Aesthetics at the Musikhochschule Zrich/Winterthur from 2000 to 2003 and co-founded of the music club EXIL in Zurich in 2009. He developed a special interest in body movement techniques, especially in Aikido, Feldenkrais and Gyrotonic, and gives workshops combining musical and body movement training. Since 2005 Bärtsch has recorded exclusively for ECM records.
Oscar Bettison's work demonstrates a willingness to work within and outside the confines of concert music. He likes to work with what he calls "Cinderella instruments," either by making percussion instruments (in the case of Junk) or by re-imagining other instruments (Krank, Cibola) as well as writing for instruments more common in rock music. More recent pieces have featured some electro-acoustic elements. His recent evening-long work O Death is concerned with bringing all these strands together. Bettison was born in Jersey, UK. After studying in London with Simon Bainbridge and Robert Saxton, he went to the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague, where he studied with Louis Andriessen. He was awarded a fellowship to attend Tanglewood in summer 2001 and holds Ph.D. from Princeton University. His work Cadence is available on NMC Records. Upcoming projects include a new work for the combined forces of the Percussion Group of The Hague and the Aurelia Saxophone Quartet. A recording of O Death by Ensemble Klang is due to be released in early 2010.
Christine Southworth, through her work with robots and automated music systems as co-founder and Director of Ensemble Robot, is making groundbreaking music based on the interaction between technology and creativity. Compared to Thurston Moore (Boston Phoenix) and Laurie Anderson (Boston Globe), Southworth is introducing a brand new genre of music to Boston, born out of the area’s complex community of scientists and artists. Her 2005 and 2007 performances of Zap! filled the Boston Museum of Science’s Theater of Electricity with energized crowds of students, professors, artists, children and adults. Southworth received a B.S. from MIT in 2002 in mathematics and music and an M.A. in Computer Music & Multimedia Composition from Brown University in 2006. She composes for Western ensembles, Balinese gamelan and mixed ensembles of gamelan, western instruments, electronics and robots. Currently, she is writing for string quartet and tesla coils, just intonation gamelan and rock band, and working on a new Gamelan Galak Tika album featuring her Heavy Metal.
Dirty Projectors is the alias for singer/songwriter Dave Longstreth, who had debuted under his own name with the home-made The Graceful Fallen Mango (This Heart Plays Records, 2002). The lo-fi feeling was still prevalent on The Glad Fact (Western Vinyl, 2003) which ranged from the cacophonous overture to out-of-tune accompaniments to neoclassical ballads sung in operatic and punkish registers (Ground Underfoot, Glad Fact, Off Science Hill, My Offwhite Flag, Like Fake Blood in Crisp October), far away from the center of mass of lo-fi songwriters of the 1990s. Proud of his vocal skills, Longstreth howled his compositions rather than whispering them. Facing up to his inner ghosts, he let his voice waver and crack, rise and soar. The spare Unmoved, Because Your Light Turns Green and Obscure Wisdom focus on his lyrical side and complement the turbulent bard of the first half. All in all, Longstreth comes through as a hybrid being, like a cross between Andrew Bird and Sufjan Stevens, capable of vocal gymnastics that challenge the dogmas of singing.
Bang on a Can All-Stars
Called “A fiercely aggressive group, combining the power and punch of a rock band with the precision and clarity of a chamber ensemble” in The New York Times, the Bang on a Can All-Stars are Ashley Bathgate, cello; Robert Black, bass; Vicky Chow, piano and keyboards; David Cossin, percussion; Mark Stewart, electric guitar and Evan Ziporyn, clarinets. The Bang on a Can All-Stars have gained an international reputation for their virtuosity and utterly unique sound, powered by the unusual combination of clarinet, electric guitar, cello, bass keyboards and percussion. Freely crossing the boundaries between classical, jazz, rock, world and experimental music, the six-member ensemble is constantly exploring new and innovative ways to present music. Founded in 1992 by Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe, the Bang on a Can All-Stars quickly forged a distinct identity and have come to be known worldwide for their ultra-dynamic live performances and recordings of today’s most innovative music. The group’s celebrated projects and collaborations 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 and others. The group recently opened the 2009 Manchester Festival with the world premiere of Steve Reich’s 2x5, and new projects in 2009/2010 include Julia Wolfe’s Steel Hammer; an evening-length staged concert with Trio Mediaeval; Evan Ziporyn’s A House in Bali; a new dance-opera featuring the All-Stars with Balinese Gamelan; and commissions from Louis Andriessen, Bill Frisell, Ryuichi Sakamoto and more. With occasional homages to existing music by living masters, the heart of the repertoire is genre-defying music written specifically for the group. The All-Stars now record on Cantaloupe Music and have released past recordings on Sony, Universal and Nonesuch. For up-to-date information about Bang on a Can programs, events and CD releases, please visit www.bangonacan.org.
About Bang on a Can
Formed in 1987 by composers Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe, Bang on a Can is dedicated to commissioning, performing, creating, presenting and recording contemporary music. With an ear for the new, the unknown and the unconventional, Bang on a Can strives to expose new audiences to exciting and innovative music as broadly and accessibly as possible worldwide. Through its Summer Festival, Bang on a Can hopes to bring this energy and passion for innovation to a younger generation of composers and players.
The San Francisco Chronicle has called Bang on a Can "the country's most important vehicle for contemporary music." Over the years, Bang on a Can has grown from a one-day festival to a multi-faceted organization. Projects include festival concerts and 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 & Institute, a professional development program for young composers and performers; and cross-disciplinary collaborations and projects with DJs, visual artists, choreographers, filmmakers and more. Bang on a Can’s innovative 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.
Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center Presents
Bang on a Can All-Stars
2010 People's Commissioning Fund Concert
New Sounds Live series
Thursday February 24, 2010 at 7:30 pm
New Sounds Live series subscription: $60
Single tickets: $25 / $30 premium seating
129 West 67th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam)