(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – The sounds of new music will resound throughout the campus, galleries, hallways and concert stages of MASS MoCA for the 14th summer in a row, as the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival brings together an all-star lineup of composers, performers, teachers, and fellows. Festival highlights include a performance of Bang on a Can co-founder Michael Gordon’s oratorio “Van Gogh,” performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, on Saturday, July 25, 2015, at 8pm, and the festival concluding Bang on a Can Summer Marathon, a six-hour day-night boundary-busting festival finale featuring 50-plus musicians and composers from around the world performing excerpts from Philip Glass’ legendary “Einstein on the Beach,” songs by Meredith Monk, the forceful “Singing in the Dead of Night” by this year’s Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, Bang on a Can co-founder Julia Wolfe, and more, on Saturday, August 1, starting at 4pm and running at least until 10pm.
The electric Bang on a Can All-Stars team up with brilliant theater director David Herskovits for Michael Gordon’s oratorio, exploring the life and restless soul of Dutch master Vincent Van Gogh. The text is drawn entirely from Van Gogh’s own words, revealed heartbreakingly in his letters to his brother, Theo.
From July 25 through August 1, Bang on a Can collaborates with MASS MoCA to present Bang on a Can Plays Art, a jam-packed new music festival featuring 13 concerts in eight days, the culmination of the annual Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA, which begins on July 13. Performances begin July 15 and include daily recitals in the galleries (1:30pm Monday-Friday, 4:30pm Monday-Saturday), all free with museum admission.
Bang on a Can Plays Art draws inspiration from the visual art on display in the galleries at MASS MoCA. Each concert showcases music that interacts with the art on various levels – stylistically, thematically, and whimsically – performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, festival artists and fellows, and special guest Alvin Lucier.
On July 23, Bang on a Can presents a free performance at the Clark Art Institute on the Clark Center’s Fernandez Terrace at 3 pm. Throughout the festival, there will be frequent pop-up shows in local bars around North Adams.
Bang on a Can Plays Art kicks off in the afternoon on Saturday, July 25, featuring Terry Riley’s rarely played 1965 psychedelic “Tread on the Trail” in MASS MoCA’s largest gallery, this summer devoted to the works of Francesco Clemente, followed by a performance that evening of Bang on a Can co-founder Michael Gordon’s oratorio Van Gogh by the Bang on a Can All-Stars with special guest theater director David Herskovits. This presentation of Gordon’s Van Gogh coincides with new exhibition “Van Gogh and Nature” at the Clark Art Institute in neighboring Williamstown.
Festival highlights include three installments of Bang on a Can performing in the gallery featuring the massive photography of Clifford Ross: John Cage’s monumental “Ryoanji” (July 26), intimate works by Alvin Lucier (July 30), and Kate Moore’s heartfelt “Stories for Ocean Shells” (July 31) will all be paired with the works of this pioneering photographer.
In addition, Bang on a Can’s World Premiere Composers Concert showcases brand new music by the Festival Fellows (July 27); a performance of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and Bang on a Can co-founder David Lang’s “darker,” including projections by Suzanne Bocanegra (July 28); and Bang on a Can Plays Jim Shaw, featuring performances on numerous toy pianos (July 29).
Alvin Lucier comes to MASS MoCA for Bang on a Can Plays Sol LeWitt and Sayler/Morris, featuring the composer in his iconic work “I am sitting in a room” in the galleries of his visual art contemporary Sol LeWitt, while his mind-bending “Silver Streetcar for the Orchestra” (July 30) serenades the flight of the last passenger pigeon, as portrayed in a video installation by artists Edward Morris and Susannah Sayler.
Finally, the annual 6-hour Bang on a Can Marathon at MASS MoCA (August 1) includes more than fifty musicians and composers during six hours of non-stop, boundary-smashing music – a feast of sound including classical, contemporary, minimalism, ambient, jazz, experimental, and more – with excerpts from Philip Glass’ legendary Einstein on the Beach, Christian Marclay’s audiovisual experiment Fade to Slide, songs by Meredith Monk, the forceful Singing in the Dead of Night by 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Wolfe, and more. Performance details can be found in the calendar at the end of this release.
Bang on a Can Plays Art is the culmination of the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA, a musical utopia for innovative musicians in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, from July 13 through August 1, 2015. The festival is dedicated entirely to the creation, study, and performance of adventurous contemporary music. A three-week intensive of public performances, recitals, and lectures, the festival will be attended by over 50 cutting-edge composers and performers, including over 30 fellows selected from a pool of over 250 applicants from around the world.
Composers have their new works performed, and players perform in ensembles sitting alongside their teachers. The festival includes daily performances in the museum galleries, free with museum admission, and concludes with a six-hour blow-out marathon concert performed by the festival ensembles and special guests. The festival also features African and Latin music workshops, electronics and music business seminars, free community events including an evening concert at Windsor Lake in North Adams, and more.
Since its founding in 2002, over 400 musicians have attended the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, hailing from over 50 countries including Malaysia, Argentina, and Uzbekistan. Alumni of the Festival are emerging leaders in the new music field. Many have founded new ensembles, new festivals, new record labels, and new bands.
Bang on a Can Festival alumni include Judd Greenstein, founder of the NOW Ensemble, New Amsterdam Records, and Ecstatic Music Festival; Lauren Radnofsky, founder of Ensemble Signal; Dave Longstreth, founder of the band Dirty Projectors; Missy Mazzoli, composer and founder of the band Victoire; Anna Clyne, recent composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; David T. Little, founder of Newspeak; Jakhongir Shukurov, composer and producer of the Omnibus Festival in Uzbekistan; Olivia De Prato and Mariel Roberts, founders of Mivos Quartet; and Matt McBane, founder of the Carlsbad Music Festival in California.
The 2015 Festival faculty members are drawn from among the most innovative musicians of our time, including Gregg August (bass), Ashley Bathgate (cello), Vicky Chow (piano), David Cossin (percussion), Michael Gordon (composition), David Lang (composition), Brad Lubman (conducting), Nicholas Photinos (cello), Vicki Ray (piano), Todd Reynolds (violin), Mark Stewart (electric guitar), Ken Thomson, (saxophone/clarinet), and Julia Wolfe (composition).
The 14th Annual Bang on a Can Festival takes place July 13-August 1, 2015. Individual tickets to the evening concert on July 25 and the Marathon on August 1 are $24 each; a $35 ticket is available for each show, which includes both concert and gallery admission. MASS MoCA members can purchase tickets for these concerts for $5. The remaining Bang on a Can Plays Art concerts are free with museum admission. Kids Can Too tickets are $5 per person. Tickets are available at the MASS MoCA box office, open 11am – 5pm Wednesdays through Mondays; closed Tuesdays. Starting June 26, the box office will be open 10am to 6pm every day, with extended evening hours to 7pm on Thursdays through Saturdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during box office hours or purchased online at MASS MoCA.
Bang on a Can Plays Art Schedule (subject to change):
Saturday, July 25 – Saturday, August 1, 2015
Saturday, July 25, 4:30pm
Bang on a Can Plays Francesco Clemente
Terry Riley: Tread on the Trail
Artist Francesco Clemente’s Encampment divides Mass MoCA’s largest gallery into a cross-cultural village of tents, drawing references from the traditions of Rajasthan, India, to the contemporary West, and creating a beautiful world of color and a strangely alluring hospitality. Legendary American composer Terry Riley’s music is similarly wide-ranging in its sources and reference, including passages drawn from Indian raga and jazz. Bang on a Can celebrates Riley’s 80th birthday with his rarely played 1965 psychedelic Tread on the Trail, a giant, hypnotic journey of its own.
Saturday July 25, 8pm
Michael Gordon: Van Gogh
The electric Bang on a Can All-Stars team up with brilliant theater director David Herskovits for Michael Gordon’s oratorio, exploring the life and restless soul of Dutch master Vincent Van Gogh. The text is drawn entirely from Van Gogh’s own words, revealed heartbreakingly in his letters to his brother, Theo. Joining the All-Stars will be violinist-singers Charles Yang and Eliza Bagg.
Sunday July 26, 4:30pm
Bang on a Can Plays Clifford Ross (1)
John Cage: Ryoanji
Bang on a Can’s first response to the photography of Clifford Ross focuses on the high-resolution mountain imagery of Landscape Seen & Imagined: John Cage’s monumental Ryoanji is a sonic and philosophic transformation into the sounds of the majestically meditative Zen rock garden at the Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto. No composer in recent memory spent more time thinking about the relationship between hearing and seeing than Cage, and this is one of his deepest, most dramatic works.
Monday, July 27, 4:30pm
World Premiere Composer Concert
The Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA has become a mecca for curious and powerful young composers from around the world. This concert features ten world premieres composed and performed by all 40 of this year’s Fellows.
Tuesday, July 28, 4:30pm
David Lang: darker, with projections by Suzanne Bocanegra
David Lang’s introspectively ecstatic piece darker takes a long time to change very little. Over the course of an hour, a very active string orchestra plays music that gradually grows darker – not a lot, just a little. A film by artist Suzanne Bocanegra heightens the darkening. Lang and Bocanegra discuss the work afterward.
Wednesday, July 29, 4:30pm
Bang on a Can Plays Jim Shaw
Toy Piano Extravaganza
Just because toy pianos are small doesn’t mean that composers don’t take them seriously. Bang on a Can brings a raft of these tiny instruments into Jim Shaw’s Entertaining Doubts, which looks at American cultural detritus in Shaw’s own playfully serious way.
Wednesday, July 29, 7pm
Bang on a Can at Windsor Lake
Join the entire Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival staff, fellows, and our friends and neighbors in North Adams at beautiful Windsor Lake for our annual avant-variety show. Bring a lawn chair or sit on the grass; bring a bathing suit and a picnic!
Thursday, July 30, 4:30pm
Bang on a Can Plays Clifford Ross (2)
Intimate works of Alvin Lucier
Bang on a Can’s second response to Clifford Ross connects music to Ross’ deep interest in finding abstraction through meticulously close observation. For 50 years Alvin Lucier has been one of experimental music’s most relentless pioneers. His elegant ideas are often expressed in subtle installations whose sonic power comes from their directness, their seeming simplicity, and their intense scrutiny of basic sounds. Bang on a Can is honored to have Lucier at MASS MoCA for a concert of his works Canon and Firewood, both commissioned by Bang on a Can.
Thursday, July 30, 8pm
Bang on a Can Plays Sol LeWitt and Sayler/Morris
Featuring Alvin Lucier’s I am sitting in a room and Silver Streetcar for the Orchestra
Artist Sol LeWitt and experimental sound pioneer Alvin Lucier were friends, and their work intersected in several provocative ways. In particular, they shared the notion that a rule for making something could itself be a work of art. Lucier will recreate his 1969 masterpiece I am sitting in a room in the Sol LeWitt galleries, in which a text he reads becomes the instrument whose sound overwhelms and overpowers the tuning of the room. This double-bill concert also features Lucier’s mind-bending Silver Streetcar for the Orchestra in MASS MoCA’s gallery home for Sayler/Morris’ Eclipse.
Thursday, July 30, 10pm
After Hours at the Chalet
Spontaneous music with Festival Fellows in MASS MoCA’s summer beer garden
Friday, July 31, 4:30pm
Bang on a Can plays Clifford Ross (3)
Kate Moore’s Stories for Ocean Shells
Bang on a Can responds a third time to Clifford Ross, this time joining the artist in his infatuation with the power and mastery of the sea at its edge. Bang on a Can All-Stars’ cellist Ashley Bathgate plays the heartfelt, hour-long work Stories for Ocean Shells by Australian composer Kate Moore, who was a composer Fellow ten years ago at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA. The intricately hypnotic emotionality of Moore’s music has made her one of the star composers of her generation.
Friday, July 31, 10pm
After Hours at the Chalet
Spontaneous music with Festival Fellows in MASS MoCA’s summer beer garden
Saturday, August 1, 4pm
Bang on a Can Marathon
The Bang on a Can Marathon is a 6-hour day-night boundary-busting festival finale featuring 50+ musicians and composers from around the world and has become one of the most diverse, open, and exciting summer music events in the Berkshires. This year’s highlights include Christian Marclay, a visual artist and composer known to have pioneered the use of turntables as musical instruments. This past February, White Cube Bermondsey exhibited his magnum opus, The Clock. His silent show of endless onomatopoeia and written noises splashing and tumbling across canvases was hailed by The Guardian as “the most exciting contemporary art show in town.” With strong influences from a wide range of major contemporary artists such as John Cage and Vito Acconci, Marclay pushes the boundaries of music and mixed media production with his audiovisual experiment Fade to Slide, which will be featured at the Bang on a Can marathon among works including excerpts from Philip Glass’ legendary Einstein on the Beach, songs by Meredith Monk, the forceful Singing in the Dead of Night by this year’s Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Wolfe, and more.
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).
“When we started Bang on a Can in 1987, in an art gallery in SoHo, we never imagined that our one-day, 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 for the last 27 years, 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, 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 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.
About MASS MoCA
MASS MoCA is one of the world’s liveliest (and largest) centers for making and enjoying today’s most important art, music, dance, theater, film, and video. Hundreds of works of visual and performing art have been created on its 19th-century factory campus during fabrication and rehearsal residencies, making MASS MoCA among the most productive sites in the country for the creation and presentation of new art. More platform than box, MASS MoCA strives to bring to its audiences art experiences that are fresh, engaging, and transformative.
MASS MoCA’s galleries are open 11am to 5pm every day except Tuesdays. From June 26 through September 7, 2015, MASS MoCA’s galleries are open 10am to 6pm every day, Sundays through Wednesdays, with extended evening hours to 7pm on Thursdays through Saturdays, when performing arts events are often featured. The Hall Art Foundation’s Anselm Kiefer exhibition is open seasonally. Gallery admission is $18 for adults, $16 for veterans and seniors, $12 for students, $8 for children 6 to 16, and free for children 5 and under. Members are admitted free year-round. For additional information, call 413.662.2111 x1 or visit MASS MoCA.