Bang on a Can to Play Eno’s ‘Airports’ at MASS MoCA

BoAC Peter Serling

Bang on a Can All-Stars (photo Peter Serling)

(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – The Bang on a Can All-Stars will perform Brian Eno’s pioneering ambient work, “Music for Airports,” in the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA on Saturday, July 23, at 8pm, as part of the program for the 15th annual Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival. The groundbreaking work will be given an expanded performance that includes an orchestra of festival fellows. The concert will also feature new entries in the All-Stars’ Field Recordings project –  new music interwoven around archival recordings – including works by Roomful of Teeth’s Caroline Shaw, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Gabriella Smith, Rene Lussier, and more.

Eno’s composition, originally found on his 1978 album, “Ambient 1: Music for Airports,” has proven to be one of the most influential recordings of its time, having had an effect on pop, rock, electronic, and new-classical music. Its influence can be heard in the work of rock artists including David Bowie, Talking Heads, U2, and Radiohead, electronic artists including the Orb and Aphex Twin, and in work by the trio of new-music composers who cofounded Bang on a Can – Julia Wolfe, David Lang, and Michael Gordon, among others.

Eno’s 1978 album was the first in a series given the overtitle “Ambient,” which came with a manifesto that read in part: “Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” Eno was inspired to write the piece after sitting in an airport, and the music has indeed proven to induce a meditative calm in travelers who experience stress before and during air travel.

In addition to its functional aspect, the piece is a work of pure and simple beauty. Its six-note theme recalls Erik Satie; its drone-like quality the work of LaMonte Young; and its choral parts the heavenly sounds of Gyorgy Ligeti.

While originally intended strictly as primarily electronic, studio-recorded music, the Bang on a Can All-Stars first conceived of performing “Music for Airports” with live musicians on their 1998 recording of the work. Ten years later, they followed up that studio recording with an album featuring a live performance of “Music for Airports,” which has been a mainstay of their repertoire over the decades.

Tickets are available at the MASS MoCA Box Office 11am-5pm daily, by phone at 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours, or online at MASS MoCA.


Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA


1:30pm: Fellows | 4:30pm: Faculty



Wednesday, July 13, 4:30pm – Ken Thomson “40 Years Recital” – Featuring recently composed music performed by Ken and colleagues, and classics by Steve Reich and Louis Andriessen; special guests include master percussionist Doug Perkins


Thursday  July 14, 4:30pm – Mark Stewart and friends


Friday, July 15, 1:30pm – Festival fellows and African Drumming Master Nani Agbeli perform outdoors in the MASS MoCA courtyard


Friday, July 15, 4:30pm – David Cossin performs Alvin Lucier’s atmospheric Still and Moving Lines in Silence in Families of Hyperbolas


Saturday, July 16, 11:30am – KIDS CAN TOO! A performance for families



Saturday, July 16, 4:30pm – gallery recital tba


Monday July 18, 4:30pm – Gregg August and friends perform music by Ornette Coleman, a new piece by Gregg for double bass and cello, and more


Tuesday July 19, 4:30pm – Bang on a Can celebrates many years of partnering with CECArtslink and talented musicians from Central Asia. The performance will include musicians from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikstan, and Uzbekistan performing traditional music as well as new collaboratively composed works on instruments such as the Kyl-kobyz, Komuz, Temir, Zhygach ooz, Tanbur, Rubab, and Dutar.


Wednesday, July 20, 4:30pm – Cellist Nick Photinos, of the new music ensemble eighth blackbird, presents a recital with friends featuring the works of two young jazz giants, pianist Pascal LeBoeuf and bassist Matt Ulery


Thursday July 21, 4:30pm – The music of Bang on a Can co-founders and co-artistic directors Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe performed by festival fellows and faculty


Friday July 22, 4:30pm – Todd Reynolds and friends


Friday July 22, 10pm – Free concert in downtown North Adams: Gregg August with special guests Joe Gonzalez and Ben Lapidus lead a Latin Music Big Band consisting of festival fellows and guests at the American Legion bar


Saturday, July 23, 4:30pm – Pianist Vicky Chow plays compositions by Bang on a Can founders Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe, plus a world premiere by composer Chris Cerrone


Saturday, July 23, 8pm – BANG ON A CAN ALL-STARS PLAY BRIAN ENO: MUSIC FOR AIRPORTS. The All-Stars bring Eno’s pioneering ambient work from the 1970s to life in an expanded performance that includes an orchestra of festival fellows. The concert will also feature new entries in the All-Stars’ Field Recordings project –  new music interwoven around archival recordings – including works by Roomful of Teeth’s Caroline Shaw, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Gabriella Smith, Rene Lussier, and more.



Saturday, July 24, 4:30pm – Fellows and faculty perform John Cage’s monumentally ethereal Atlas Elipticalis


Monday, July 25, 4:30pm – WORLD PREMIERE COMPOSER CONCERT! Over 30 young performers from around the world debut festival work by this year’s exciting nine composition fellows.



Tuesday, July 26, 4:30pm – Martin Bresnick’s expressive and direct music has influenced a generation of composers, including many Bang on a Can regulars. Come celebrate his 70th birthday.


Wednesday, July 27, 4:30pm – Born in Macau and now splitting her time between Paris and Poestenkill, composer Bun-Ching Lam spins an East/West fusion of the delicate and the virtuosic


Wednesday, July 27, 7pm – CONCERT AT THE LAKE Bang on a Can’s annual blow-out avant-variety show. Bring a blanket!



Thursday, July 28, 4:30pm – Ashley Bathgate performs Bach Unwound, an energetic piece for solo cello, written by the Sleeping Giant collective.


Thursday, July 28, 4:30pm -– A special outdoor performance of Ten Thousand Birds, by the renowned John Luther Adams.


July 28 & 29, 10pm – AFTER HOURS AT THE CHALET Spontaneous music with the fellows in our summer beer garden, which careens wildly from bluegrass to jazz to salsa to avant-ballads.


Friday, July 29, 4:30pm – Music for percussion by John Luther Adams


Saturday, July 30, 4–10pm – BANG ON A CAN MARATHON – The 6-hour festival finale featuring music by Bang on a Can’s special guest composer, eco-revolutionary John Luther Adams – including In a Treeless Place, Only Snow and The Light Within – plus a rare performance of Steve Reich’s early classic Music For Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ, Julia Wolfe’s raucous Tell Me Everything, a world premiere by Bang on a Can All-Star and festival favorite, Ken Thomson, and much 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 of America 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. In the summer months, the galleries are open 10am to 6pm every day. 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.




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