Bang on a Can is one of the most important, innovative new music organizations in the country, and, for some of us, a pilgrimage to their annual Marathon concert is essential.
Displaced from their usual venue in the spacious but noisy and overly reverberant World Financial Center’s Winter Garden due to construction there, the 2013 event was held at the Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University. There were pros and cons to this change. The Schimmel Center has better acoustics and more comfortable seating (not a small matter for these long undertakings), but also limited the audience and reduced the public nature of the event. A significant line developed by the opening hour:
About 2 dozen works were heard, featuring around 130 performers, during this 10-hour mini-marathon. (And, yes, "mini" applies when compared to a marathon a few years back that lasted 27 hours.) Some highlights, as they occurred, were:
> The "El Dude" movement from Derek Bermel's enjoyable Canzonas Americanas (this work's CD is highly recommended)
> Caleb Burhans' appealing oh ye of little faith, with a special shout-out to violinist Yuki Numata and guitarist Ryan Ferriera, who stepped in with little notice to replace an ailing Caleb, who suffered an accidental fall the previous evening.
> Lukas Ligeti's quadra-rhythmic lakoni in kasonnde, featuring 2 deft drummers (David Cossin and Ben Reimer) each playing different rhythms with their left and right hands.
> John King's sonically rich Astral Epitaphs, originally composed for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's final concerts at the Park Avenue Armory, was performed by the TILT brass ensemble and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. It worked well here, and a performance in the cavernous Armory must have been spectacular.
> Julia Wolfe's Americana-ish With a blue dress on, with a virtuosic performance by Monica Germino, who fiddled, sang, and stomped with aplomb.
> Tamar Muskal's soulful Mar de Leche, zealously performed cellist Maya Beiser and her Provenance Project Band.
> Annea Lockwood's Vortex, performed by the BOAC All-Stars, was one of the few pieces heard over the day that conveyed a sense of mystery.
> Michael Gordon's Yo Shakespeare, energetic and packed with dance rhythms, was originally composed for Icebreaker within their rigid rules. Always a winner, it was performed by the BOAC All-Stars in a new arrangement.
> Finally, we heard the crowd-pleasing Asphalt Orchestra exuberantly perform works by Tom Zé and Tatsuya Yoshida. This unique ensemble remains an imaginative creation.
For more, visit Bang on a Can's website.