Bang on a Can Festival Takes Over MASS MoCA

Bang on a Can founders David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe (photo Peter Serling)

(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – For the 16th summer in a row, new music collective Bang on a Can takes up residence at MASS MoCA for its summer music festival and institute, from Wednesday, July 19, through Saturday, August 5. Featuring public performances, recitals, and lectures, the festival will be attended by over 50 cutting-edge composers and performers from around the globe, including over 35 fellows selected from a pool of more than 250 applicants from throughout the world. This year’s featured guest composers are Louis Andriessen and George Lewis.

Festival highlights include a preview performance of the Bang on a Can All-Stars’ Road Trip on Saturday, July 29. A brand-new, evening-length work composed by Bang on a Can co-founders Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, Road Trip commemorates their 30-year collaborative journey together since founding Bang on a Can in 1987. Road Trip is a staged performance directed by Michael Counts with rock show lighting and projections designed by CandyStations. Earlier that same day, Bang on a Can celebrates the late Pauline Oliveros with a tribute concert.

On Sunday, July 30, Mark Stewart and festival fellows perform on the spectacular original instruments of Gunnar Schonbeck, and on Monday, July 31, over 40 young composers and performers from around the world debut nine new works written especially for the festival at the World Premiere Composer Concert.

Philip Glass

In Music from Central Asia on Tuesday, August 1, musicians from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan perform on traditional instruments from their countries, including the chopo choor, rubab, and dombra. On Wednesday, August 2, festival fellows will perform the chamber music version of Philip Glass’s monumental Symphony No. 3.

On Thursday, August 3, festival musicians offer a concert celebrating one of this year’s guest composers, George Lewis, an American pioneer of electronic and interactive music, followed by a special evening concert featuring this year’s returning guest composer, Dutch master Louis Andriessen. On Friday, August 4, the festival fellows will perform a concert of music by Meredith Monk.

Finally, on Saturday, August 5, from 4-10pm, the legendary Bang on a Can Marathon will close out the Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA with an eclectic program including works from Steve Reich, Andriessen, Gordon, Lang, Vanessa Lann, Julia Wolfe, Jeffrey Brooks, Nicole Lizée, Lois V Vierk, György Ligeti, and others.

The Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival is a musical utopia for innovative musicians in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, dedicated entirely to the creation, study, and performance of adventurous contemporary music.

Throughout the Festival, daily recitals at 1:30pm offer an opportunity for the performance and composition fellows to interact with the artwork in the galleries, often playing new works written while in residence at MASS MoCA. Daily recitals at 4:30pm feature performances by the Bang on a Can faculty and Festival ensembles.

Ashley Bathgate

Ghanian drumming and dance led by festival faculty member and Ghanian master drummer Nani Agbeli takes place on Friday, July 28 at 4:30pm. The late afternoon recital programs include performances by Mark Stewart (July 19), who curated MASS MoCA’s Gunnar Schonbeck exhibition, a participatory music room featuring hundreds of handmade instruments that Stewart meticulously restored; cellist Ashley Bathgate (July 20); pianist Vicki Ray (July 21); pianist Karl Larson (July 22); pianist Vicky Chow (July 24); percussionist David Cossin (July 25); bassist-composer Gregg August (July 26); and cellist Nicholas Photinos (July 27).

Kids Can Too!, an interactive workshop for children and families, will be held on Saturday, July 22 at 11:30am. On Wednesday, August 2, at 7pm, the festival heads to Windsor Lake for a free, outdoor community concert. Another annual ‘off campus’ highlight is Latin Music Night on Friday, July 21 at 10pm at the American Legion in North Adams, Mass.

Since its founding in 2002, over 500 musicians have attended the Bang on a Can Summer Festival, coming from all over the world including places as far away as 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, recently 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 2017 Festival faculty members are drawn from among the most innovative musicians or our time, including Nani Agbeli (Ghanian drumming), Gregg August (bass), Ashley Bathgate (cello), Vicky Chow (piano), David Cossin (percussion), Joe Gonzales (latin percussion), Michael Gordon (composition), David Lang (composition), Brad Lubman (conducting), Nicholas Photinos (cello), Mark Stewart (electric guitar), Ken Thomson (saxophone/clarinet), and Julia Wolfe (composition).

Meredith Monk and Julia Wolfe

Now in its 30th year, Bang on a Can is committed more than ever to an increasing and inclusive world-wide community dedicated to innovation through music; a world where ideas flow freely across boundaries; musical, geographical, spiritual. Co-founders Gordon, Lang, and Wolfe explain, “Thirty years ago we started dreaming of the world we wanted to live in. It would be a kind of utopia for music: all the boundaries between composers would come down, all the boundaries between genres would come down, all the boundaries between musicians and audience would come down. Then we started trying to build it. Building a utopia is a political act – it pushes people to change. It is also an act of resistance to the things that keep us apart.”


Ticket Information:

Individual tickets to the evening concerts on July 29 and August 3, and the Marathon on August 5, are $24 each for preferred seating; $18 the day of; $12 for students, Bang on a Can alumni, and in advance; and $5 for members. Kids Can Too! tickets are $5 per person for members and $8 for non-members. The best way to Bang is with a MASS MoCA membership, which offers free gallery admission and $5 concert tickets. The remaining concerts are free with museum admission. 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


Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA



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



Wednesday, July 19, 4:30pm – Mark Stewart performs the music of Pauline Oliveros on the wonderful musical instruments of Gunnar Schonbeck


Thursday, July 20, 4:30pm – Ashley Bathgate performs new works for solo cello by Martin Bresnick, Emily Cooley, Jascha Narveson, Alex Weiser, and the world premiere of It Is Not A City by Randall Woolf


Friday, July 21, 4:30pm – The keyboard duo of Ray/Kallay (Vicki Ray and Aron Kallay) plays two works for microtonal keyboards by Dylan Mattingly and Rand Steiger; Vicki Ray will also perform three short works for solo piano – spring and greene by David Lang, On Debrosses Steet by Michael Gordon and East Broadway by Julia Wolfe.


Friday, July 21, 10pm – Latin Big Band! Led by Gregg August and Ben Lapidus, the Bang on a Can fellows perform for free at the American Legion bar. Bring your dancing shoes.


Saturday, July 22, 4:30pm – Karl Larson plays Robert Honstein’s Grand Tour for solo piano


Monday, July 24, 4:30pm – Vicky Chow, piano


Tuesday, July 25, 4:30pm – David Cossin and friends


Wednesday, July 26, 4:30pm – Gregg August and friends


Thursday, July 27, 4:30pm – Cellist Nicholas Photinos will be joined by bassist/composer Florent Ghys in presenting music by Ghys and others from Petits Artéfacts, Photinos’ upcoming debut album on New Amsterdam Records


Friday, July 28, 4:30pm – Ghanian drumming and dance master Nani Agbeli with festival fellows


Saturday, July 29, 4:30pm – Bang on a Can pays tribute to Pauline Oliveros


Saturday, July 29, 8pm – Bang on a Can All-Stars ROAD TRIP Preview Performance

Bang on a Can co-artistic directors Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe have collaborated to create Road Trip, an evening-length work for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, directed by Michael Counts with rock show lighting and projections designed by CandyStations.  The piece is about journeys and people who make them. Physical journeys, geographical journeys, emotional journeys, spiritual journeys. There is a road, but it is no simple highway.


Sunday, July 30, 4:30pm – Mark Stewart and festival fellows present new works created especially for this concert and performed on the spectacular musical instruments of Gunnar Schonbeck


Monday, July 31, 4:30pm – World Premiere Composer Concert – Over 40 young composers and performers from around the world debut nine new works written especially for the festival.


Tuesday, August 1, 4:30pm – Music from Central Asia – Musicians from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan perform on traditional instruments from their countries, including the chopo choor, rubab, and dombra.


Wednesday, August 2, 4:30pm – The Music of Philip Glass – Festival fellows perform the chamber music version of Glass’ monumental Symphony #3 and his minimalist classic Music in Similar Motion


Wednesday, August 2, 7pm – Concert at Windsor Lake, the festival’s annual blow-out, avant-variety show. Windsor Lake, North Adams. FREE.


Thursday, August 3, 4:30pm – Festival fellows perform works by guest composer George Lewis, a pioneer of electronic and interactive music.


Thursday, August 3, 7:30pm – A special concert with this year’s guest composer, Dutch master Louis Andriessen


Thursday, August 3, 10pm – After Hours at the Chalet – Spontaneous music with the fellows in the summer beer garden, which careens wildly from bluegrass to jazz to salsa to avant-ballads.


Friday, August 4, 4:30pm – Festival fellows perform music by downtown New York’s alt-vocal maverick Meredith Monk


Friday, August 4, 10pm – After Hours at the Chalet – Spontaneous music with the fellows in the summer beer garden


Saturday, August 5, 4–10pm BANG ON A CAN MARATHON at MASS MoCA

More musical “happening” than concert, the Bang on a Can Marathon closes out the Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA in suitably audacious style. The eclectic program includes works from Steve Reich, Louis Andriessen, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Vanessa Lann, Julia Wolfe, Jeffrey Brooks, and many more. Share the experience with hundreds of adventurous listeners, dozens of brilliant performers, great food and drink and of course, big bold art.


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).


Over 30 years, Bang on a Can has grown from a one-day New York-based Marathon concert (on Mother’s Day in 1987 in a SoHo art gallery) to a multi-faceted performing arts organization with a broad range of year-round international activities. “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, 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, showing, and enjoying today’s most important art, music, dance, theater, film, and video.


Gallery admission is $20 for adults, $18 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. The Hall Art Foundation’s Anselm Kiefer exhibition is open seasonally and is currently on view. For additional information, call 413.662.2111 x1 or visit MASS MoCA.



Summer (beginning June 25, 2017)

Sundays–Wednesdays, 10am–6pm

Thursdays–Saturdays, 10am–7pm





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