Bang on a Can
March 29th, 2012
Bang on a Can first brought together composers and musicians in 1987 for a marathon concert of new sounds and collaborations. Three young composers Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe founded Bang on a Can to bridge the divides they encountered in the music world:
Fresh out of the Yale School of Music, they arrived in New York City in the early 80’s, only to discover that the music world had been fractured into tiny, isolated communities, each with its own style and subgenre and venue and audience. There were a lot of separate little scenes. The academics, the minimalists, the rockers, the improvisers, the eggheads, the folklorists, the meditaters, the symphonists – musicians in each category had some place to go. The problem was, if you didn’t fit squarely into one of the categories you were out of luck…Michael, David and Julie decided to create a scene of their own.
As the group states on its website, “Bang on a Can has always believed in some very simple truths. The walls between different kinds of music keep people apart and they must be taken down. Great musicians and great audiences should spend more time together. If you help fresh musical voices to be heard then the world will be a better place.” Since its inaugural concert, Bang on a Can has hosted live events worldwide, commissioned new works, showcased unique musical partnerships, staged multimedia productions, and released several albums. A few of the many artists who have performed with Bang on a Can include Steve Reich, John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Milton Babbitt, John Zorn, Terry Riley, Thurston Moore, Maya Beiser, and Arvo Part.
This year the ensemble celebrates its 25th year of presenting new works and musicians. The San Francisco Chronicle has called the ensemble, “the country’s most important vehicle for contemporary music.” Bang on a Can celebrates its anniversary on April 28th at a special concert at Lincoln Center.
Two longtime Bang on a Can musicians–clarinetists and composers David Krakauer and Evan Ziporyn–will be on Linked Music‘s April show, debuting April 21st at 9am on Sirius XM Pops (channel 75). Tune in for Peter Cummings’ interview with these two contemporary music pioneers.
(Photos by Pascal Perich, Julien Jourdes, and Christine Southworth)