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Big Ears 2018: Bang on a Can All-Stars

Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 12:00 pm - Sunday, March 25, 2018 @ 7:00 pm MST

Knoxville, TN — At Big Ears 2018, the Bang on a Can All-Stars along with Bang on a Can co-founders and artistic directors – composers Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe – will present three concerts: Field Recordings (March 23 at 12pm, Bijou Theatre), the group’s current multi-media project now featuring more than 30 commissioned works using archival audio, found sound and video; Anthracite Fields (March 24 at 3:30pm, The Mill & Mine), Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer-Prize winning work capturing the lives of the Pennsylvania coal miners; and Bang on a Can – 30 Years (March 25 at 7pm, Tennessee Theatre), a concert featuring core compositions from the three founders, Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe.

During the last quarter-century, no American ensemble has been more important to the health of new music than the prolific and vital New York-based collective Bang on a Can. A touring ensemble, a record label, a clearinghouse for commissions, a nonprofit with widespread charitable aims, a concert producer, a top-rate collection of performers: After thirty years, there’s little Bang on a Can has not become.

Friday, March 23, 2018 at 12pm
Bang on a Can All-Stars: Field Recordings
Bijou Theatre

Julia Wolfe: Reeling
Florent Ghys: An Open Cage
Michael Gordon: Gene Takes a Drink with film by Bill Morrison
Christian Marclay: Fade to Slide with film by Christian Marclay
David Lang: unused swan
Todd Reynolds: Seven Sundays
Caroline Shaw: Really Craft When You
Steve Reich: The Cave of Machpelah
Bryce Dessner: Letter 27 with film
Anna Clyne: A Wonderful Day
Nick Zammuto: Real Beauty Turns with film by Nick Zammuto

Using archival audio, found sound and video, Bang on a Can’s Field Recordings builds a bridge between the seen and the unseen, the present and absent, the present and the past, channeled through the electric ensemble Bang on a Can All-Stars. As Bang on a Can co-founding composer David Lang describes it: “Field Recordings is 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.”

Now featuring more than 30 commissioned works and two double-disc album releases on Cantaloupe Music – Field Recordings (2015) and More Field Recordings (2017) – the project has nearly become a genre in its own right, a new adventurous palette of sound that includes endless ambient textures, film, and electro-acoustic forays into the future. In concert at Big Ears, the Bang on a Can All-Stars will perform music, in some cases with film, by Anna Clyne, Bryce Dessner, Florent Ghys, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Christian Marclay, Steve Reich, Todd Reynolds, Caroline Shaw, Julia Wolfe, and Nick Zammuto.

Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 3:30pm
Bang on a Can All-Stars & SONOS: Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields
The Mill & Mine

New York’s electric Bang on a Can All-Stars team up with Nashville’s SONOS choir for Bang on a Can co-founder Julia Wolfe’s haunting, poignant and relentlessly physical Anthracite Fields, 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, children’s 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, Anthracite Fields 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.”

Sunday, March 25, 2018 at 7pm
Bang on a Can All-Stars: Bang on a Can – 30 Years
Tennessee Theatre

David Lang: cheating, lying, stealing
Julia Wofe: Big Beautiful Dark and Scary
Michael Gordon: Big Space
Steve Martland: Horses of Instruction
Philip Glass: Closing

Expect everything from avant-garde Minimalism to rock and funk in this 30th-birthday concert program, featuring the U.S. premiere of Bang on a Can co-founder and artistic director Michael Gordon’s Big Space by the Bang on a Can All-Stars with members of Knoxville’s Nief Norf arranged in the hall surrounding the audience, plus core works by Bang on a Can co-founders and artistic directors David Lang and Julia Wolfe, and music written for the All-Stars by Steve Martland and Philip Glass.

About the Bang on a Can All-Stars: The Bang on a Can All-Stars are Ashley Bathgate, cello; Robert Black, bass; Vicky Chow, piano; David Cossin, percussion; Mark Stewart, guitars; and Ken Thomson, clarinets. Formed in 1992, the Bang on a Can All-Stars are recognized worldwide 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, taking music into uncharted territories. Performing each year throughout the U.S. and internationally, the All-Stars have shattered the definition of what concert music is today.

Together, 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 group’s celebrated projects 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, Owen Pallett and others. 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.

Current and recent project highlights include the touring performances and recording of Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize winning Anthracite Fields for the All-Stars and guest choir, the record release of Wolfe’s acclaimed Steel Hammer, featuring Trio Mediaeval, plus a moving theatrically staged collaboration with SITI Company and director Anne Bogart; Field Recordings, a major multi-media project and CD/DVD now featuring 30 commissioned works by Tyondai Braxton, Mira Calix, Anna Clyne, Bryce Dessner, Florent Ghys, Michael Gordon, Jóhann Jóhannsson, David Lang, Christian Marclay, Steve Reich, Todd Reynolds, Julia Wolfe, and more; the Lincoln Center Festival 2017 world premiere of Cloud River Mountain, a new collaboration featuring Chinese superstar singer Gong Linna; the world premiere performance and recording of Steve Reich’s 2×5 including a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall, and much more. 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. 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.


Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 12:00 pm MST
Sunday, March 25, 2018 @ 7:00 pm MST
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