|Numinous The Music of Joseph C. Phillips Jr.|
The Numinosum Blog
On Sunday I went to the Bang on a Can Marathon at the World Financial Center's Winter Garden atrium. It was a great time and I met many old friends and made some new ones. I was not a Marathon 'warrior' as I was only at the Winter Garden for the first 7 of the 13 hours, but you can read reviews from some of those that were "in it to win": Steve Smith's piece at the New York Times, Seth Colter Walls for Capital NY, George Grella at The Big City, and the New Jersey Star-Ledger. This being the 21st century and all, an unofficial Twitterati (including me!) could be seen typing away on laptops, Blackberries, and iPhones giving witty and sometimes insightful real-time commentary on the music and the happenings.
As Greg Sandow pointed out, the idea of the Marathon and why you hear the wide variety of music you hear at a typical Marathon, can be answered by this question in the BOAC program, a mission statement of sorts, from the founders Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe:
"So where can you go to find music from across the many many adventurous, sub-mainstream, less commercial genres? Innovative musics that could easily be filtered and heard only separate from each other but actually have more in common than you could ever imagine once the categories are removed?"
Of course this is the 'thing' now, this crossing of genres; the blurring of lines of demarcation between one style or another. Some are now declaring, "Hey don't call me classical (or jazz or whatever), I listen to Prince and Dirty Projectors and Jay-Z and Bill Monroe and John Coltrane and sure John Adams too and it's all in my music, ain't I cool!" This self-consciousness about 'crossing genres' is actually not how I defined our age of mixed music. As I defined it, mixed music is a true integration of all of those influences from pop, rock, jazz, classical, etc. into something that is all of those influences yet completely different. Like in cooking, it's not always what ingredients you use for a recipe (although the quality of those ingredients is another story), but how you use them that is the difference between a surfeiting meal or a sublime one. Mixed music is not a style per se but rather a mode of expression that organically reflects a true philosophy or world view about music.
Now I say all of this because the Bang on a Can Marathon featured many works that I found satiating and certainly fitting my mixed music definition. And even those that didn't, I found engaging and enjoyable. The highlights for me of my 7 hour musical sitz were: Quartet New Generation, a recorder collective from Germany who brought virtuosic intensity to some rather large recorders; composer Moritz Eggert, who looks a bit like Peter Lorre but whose great piano playing was like someone at a Metallica concert (especially loved the Hämmerklavier III: One Man Band, with its (literal) grooving piano banging); Face the Music's spirited performance of Graham Fitkin's Mesh; Steve Coleman's piece Formation-Lunar Eclipse, which I'm still trying to figure out what it was (it was that good and that unclassifiable); Evan Ziporyn's Tire Fire performed by his Gamelan Galak Tika, featured some grooving and clanging rhythms by the gamelan with beautiful soundscapes from the added electric guitar, electric bass, and keyboard; and the last piece I heard, Fausto Romitelli's Professor Bad Trip performed by the Talea Ensemble, with its wonderfully wild and evocative dissonances and frenetic counterpoint, lived up to its title.
So to sum up the evening: Bang on a Can Marathon and mixed music, WIN!
(photo credit (from top to bottom): JACK Quartet performing Tetras by Iannis Xenakis; Gamelan Galak Tika; Moritz Eggert; Kambar Kalendarov and Kutman Sultanbekov from Kyrgyzstan; John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble; Quartet New Generation with Mortiz Eggert; Steve Coleman and Jonathan Finlayson (trpt), David Millares (piano);
all photos taken June 27, 2010 by Joseph C. Phillips Jr.)
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 9:47 AM
This video came to my notice from Shadow and Act, a site that has become my recent source of what's happening from neglected and ah, darker hued participants in today's cinema and media (and one site that should be in your feed and you should be following). The Boondocks Dedicates an Episode Dissing Tyler Perry post featured a link to an episode of the eponymously titled TV show based on Aaron McGruder's groundbreaking comic strip. For years now, the strip and show has couched aspects of African-American life and culture in satirical humor and with a most observant eye. It is must viewing and reading for some insight into what's going on. If you've never checked out Boondocks, you can read some recent comics here or about learn about the show here or here. Tyler Perry, whose rags-to-billion-dollar-media-empire story is inspiring, is often criticized as trolling in and pandering to the most base stereotypes of African-Americans. The Boondocks episode is quite biting commentary on a thinly veiled Perry avatar and has sparked a reaction from Perry himself. I found the episode quite funny, go see for yourself...
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 5:11 PM
I don't remember this kind of dancing the last time I was at the New York City Ballet! Twirl was created for the NYCB's Dance with Dancers 2010 event and is a good and interesting way to promote the ballet for potential younger consumers. Of course you wouldn't want to always have something like this techno-rap, but if they could more often make the actual ballet experience as fun as this video, maybe it would really attract a...ah, more diverse, younger audience (Nutcracker excepted...).
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 8:54 AM
Well, not really but I did play around with one at the Upper West Side Apple Store just before Face the Music performed my piece "Liquid Timepieces". And yes, I want one. Anyway, above are some shots from this evening's performance:
(photo credit: Joseph C. Phillips Jr.)
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 8:56 PM
Play Me I'm Yours is the latest public art project to hit NYC streets next week. On the heels of the CowParade and The Gates, both a number of years ago, Play Me I'm Yours features 60 pianos that will be placed around NYC and allow anyone with skills (or I guess, even if you have none) to share their inner Chopin, Alicia Keys, LaMonte Young, Herbie Hancock, Lady Gaga, Ligeti, or Cecil Taylor with anyone walking by.
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 7:59 AM
Here are the latest photos from the Numinous show on May 24, 2010 at the Tea Lounge in Park Slope, Brooklyn. We had a great time and a good audience (actually made some of the laptop hipster mafia t ake out their earbuds to listen to us!) which was all part of the Size Matters Large Ensemble series curated by fellow Pulse-er JC Sanford. The photos were taken by Donald Martinez, who previously has taken some wonderful shots of various Numinous performances, turning himself into our group photographer in the process! Some of Donald's other lovely photo work from his travels can be seen on his Flickr stream, where you can view some of the other photos from previous Numinous shows as well.
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 10:00 AM
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 16, 2010
Next Monday, June 21st at 5:30pm at the Apple Store on the upper West Side of Manhattan (1981 Broadway New York City, NY 10023) is the last chance this school year to hear Face the Music perform "Liquid Timepieces", the piece they commissioned from me (the piece will make its appearance in a Numinous version on a performance this fall).
Seeing as how I (along with seemly all the Apple fan boys and girls in the Western world) spent much of my time Tuesday, on-and-off throughout the day, trying to break through AT&T's server issues to pre-order the iPhone4 (the battery on my old geezer original iPhone 1.0 has reached the end of its life, so I'm actually someone that actually really needs the new iPhone...really....Really!). It would have been great if the concert and the pick-up date were the same but alas, Steve Jobs couldn't work his magic that way so I'll have to go back to pick up my new phone (if they haven't run out; despite my reservation I'm a bit skeptical after the events of the iPhoneapocalypse). Anyway, you can still come out to the Apple Store and hear Face the Music and maybe get a whiff of the new iPhone or at least the iPad while listening to the new music stars of the future.
At the Apple Store performance you can also hear Face the Music perform Graham Fitkin's "Mesh", which they will also be playing at this year's Bang on a Can Marathon on June 27th at 2pm.
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 6:51 PM
That's right, the title says it all. For last night's crowd at the Apollo Theater Amateur Night, our 321 Band was the nameless red shirted Enterprise landing-party crew members beamed down to the planet's surface...never to return. WPIX Channel 11 had a nice interview (you can see me in the background during the 321 Band interview). Even the old Grey Lady, the New York Times, covered the debacle that was Teacher's Amateur Night. I actually was tweeting from the Apollo last night (#NYCTeachersatApollo) and you can get a sense of what was happening from them, but here's a sampling:
-people already lined up on 125th St. for sold out Amateur Night show at the Apollo, the tension & excitement mounts#NYCTeachersatApollo 3:34 PM Jun 2nd
-Apollo Green room, with everyone getting ready like Queen Latifah's Beauty Shop, only w/o hot combs (curlers only here) #NYCTeachersatApollo 3:39 PM Jun 2nd
-Apollo Ex. Dir telling stories of Ella, James Brown, etc. booed off stage, ok so that's going to make us feel better #NYCTeachersatApollo 3:48 PM Jun 2nd
-spontaneous break out of teachers playing Jobim and the Circle is Unbroken, good way to break the ice in Green Room #NYCTeachersatApollo 4:04 PM Jun 2nd
-being 1st, we were the sacrificial lambs of the Night booed off but almost made it to the end, oops there's another out #NYCTeachersatApollo 8:12 PM Jun 2nd
-it's student payback time, another bites the dust, but there is love and support in the GreenRoom #NYCTeachersatApollo 8:14 PM Jun 2nd
-in the balcony now having a beer watching the other acts, crowd is tired of booing, last 3 made it #NYCTeachersatApollo 8:43 PM Jun 2nd
Really it was good fun and we actually did play great (what playing we did!) but I must say the obvious: Harlem ain't ready for bluegrass...
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 11:45 PM
To all things that create a sense of wonder and beauty that inspires and enlightens.