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The Numinosum Blog
Banging the Can of Mixed Music
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
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To all things that create a sense of wonder and beauty that inspires and enlightens.
Thanks and credit to all the original photos on this website to: David Andrako, Concrete Temple Theatre, Marcy Begian, Ed Lefkowicz, Donald Martinez, Kimberly McCollum, Geoff Ogle, Joseph C. Phillips Jr., Daniel Wolf-courtesy of Roulette, Andrew Robertson, Viscena Photography, Jennifer Wohrle, Carolyn Wolf, Mark Elzey, Numinosito. The Numinous Changing Same album design artwork by DM Stith. The Numinous The Grey Land album design and artwork by Brock Lefferts. Contact for photo credit and information on specific images.