It is perhaps best known for its 12-hour Marathon Concerts during which an eclectic mix of pieces are performed in succession over the course of many hours while audience members, who are encouraged to maintain a “jeans-and-tee-shirt informality,” are welcome to come and go as they please.
Among the many Bang on a Can events were performances by John Cage, premieres of Glenn Branca’s epic symphonies for massed electric guitars, and fully staged operas of hobo-legend Harry Partch, featuring the composer’s original instruments.
In 2002, Bang on a Can began the yearly Summer Institute of Music , a program at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) for young composers and performers. This program is sometimes referred to by the nickname “Banglewood” in reference to the nearby, but far more traditional Tanglewood Music Festival.
The three artistic directors occasionally collaborate by jointly composing a large work, often without revealing which sections each contributed. Examples include:
* The Carbon Copy Building — a “comic book opera” with words and drawings by MacArthur Grant recipient Ben Katchor. It was the winner of the 2000 Obie Award for Best New American Work.
* Lost Objects — a contemporary oratorio, with a libretto by Deborah Artman. It is a fusion of baroque music and modern soundscapes, rendered in performance by the original instruments ensemble Concerto Köln with four electronic instruments, three solo vocalists, a choir, and a live remix generated by DJ Spooky.
* The New Yorkers — a staged multimedia concert with additional contributions by filmmakers and visual artists including: Ben Katchor, Bill Morrison, Doug Aitken, and William Wegman.
* Shelter — a multi-media work that in the words of librettist Deborah Artman, “evokes the power and threat of nature, the soaring frontier promise contained in the framing of a new house, the pure aesthetic beauty of blueprints, the sweet architecture of sound and the uneasy vulnerability that underlies even the safety of our sleep.”
In the past, Bang on a Can released recordings on Composers Recordings Inc. (CRI), Sony Classical, Point Music (Universal), and Nonesuch, but now the majority of its recordings are found on its own record label, Cantaloupe Music. In addition to releasing works by Gordon, Wolfe, and Lang, the label releases CDs of music by composers and musical groups affiliated with the organization, including Evan Ziporyn, Phil Kline, Alarm Will Sound, Icebreaker, Ethel, Gutbucket, R. Luke DuBois, and Don Byron.
Bang on a Can has commissioned and premiered pieces by composers including Terry Riley, Michael Nyman, Somei Satoh, Iva Bittová, Ornette Coleman, and Bun-Ching Lam. In 1998 the organization began the People’s Commissioning Fund which supports the creation of new musical compositions by pooling contributions from numerous member-commissioners whose donations range from $5 to $5,000. To date, this fund has commissioned:
* 1998 — Virgil Moorefield, Pamela Z, Dan Plonsey
* 2000 — Marc Mellits, Edward Ruchalski, Miya Masaoka, Toby Twining
* 2001 — Jeffrey Brooks, Sussan Deyhim, James Fei, Keeril Makan
* 2002 — Eve Beglarian, John King, Matthew Shipp
* 2003 — Annea Lockwood, Ingram Marshall, Thurston Moore
* 2005 — Cynthia Hopkins, Carla Kihlstedt, J.G. Thirlwell
* 2006 — Yoav Gal, Annie Gosfield, John Hollenbeck
Bang on a Can is associated with the whimsical Spit Orchestra, and a preeminent chamber ensemble, the Bang on a Can All-Stars which in 2005 was named “Ensemble of the Year” by the Musical America International Directory of the Performing Arts. The personnel and instrumentation of the Bang on a Can All-Stars is Evan Ziporyn, clarinet and saxophone; Mark Stewart, electric guitar; Wendy Sutter, cello; Robert Black, double bass; Lisa Moore, keyboards; and David Cossin percussion.
Edited by headey on 13 Oct 2011, 21:35
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