Ashley Bathgate & Eleonore Oppenheim at Drom ~ A Review

Eleonore Oppenheim soundchecking at Drom (Photo courtesy of Ashley Bathgate)eleonoreoppenheimdrom

Ashley Bathgate, cello
Eleonore Oppenheim, bass viol
Drom, NYC
Sunday, September 8th, 2013

I was really thrilled to check out a brilliant pair of post-minimal string music sets from Bang On a Can All-Stars’ Ashley Bathgate and Victoire’s Eleonore Oppenheim at the Lower East Side venue Drom this past Sunday night. The two string soloists are both very talented artists in their field, both as members of their respective ensembles as well as solo artists, not to mention that they are both also founding members of the group Bonjour (also scheduled to appear soon at Drom) with fellow bassist Florent Ghys.

Having a solo set each, Ashley’s set launched with Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnason’s 3-movement piece Bow To String, with the ambient textures typical of the sound of Bedroom Community combined with the grittiness of Ashley’s downtown influences.
The soundbite-threaded mania of Yoav Shemesh’s “Empty City” was a big jolt, reminiscent of some of the best music of Jacob TV.
Bill Ryan’s “Simple Lines” and Jacob Cooper’s “Arches” both beautifully rounded out Bathgate’s set.

With her own selected stock projection of vintage b&w footage, Eleonore’s set began with my favorite moment of the evening: Ashley joining her onstage for Oppenheim’s own arrangement of Bjork’s “Pleasure Is All Mine”. The two artists’ performance of this work definitely made me want to see this kind of duo on a more regular basis.

Florent Ghys’ “Crocodile” was a delight of stereophonic clanging. Angelica Negron’s “La Isla Magica” and Jenny Olivia Johnson’s “Home” were two more sonic works of new music industrialism.

Both these artists were at their peak on this evening. I definitely love to come to NY to hear these great people, and I was very thrilled to see Eleonore for the first time solo, as I love her work in both Victoire and Bonjour.

Ashley Bathgate ~ Cello
Eleonore Oppenheim ~ Bassist

Bang On a Can at Rite of Summer (A Review)

Bang On a Can All-Stars at Rite of Summer Festival on Governors Island–Photo courtesy of Reilly Grahamrrite4fixed by Reilly Graham

Rite of Summer Festival
Bang On a Can All-Stars
Governors Island, NYC
Saturday, July 13, 2013

I have never been to Governors Island (at least I don’t think I have in many years–something about it seemed familiar to me), and I basically was walking towards the side of the island where I believed the site of the Rite of Summer concert was going on. I felt worried when I saw a tent area that sort of looked like a stage-area with no people, thinking I’d traveled all the way to the island to find a canceled show, but after hearing the strains of a distorted cello in the distance…I KNEW that was our show! I kept walking and found the Bang On a Can All-Stars set underway.

I’m very glad that I was familiar with Michael Gordon’s “Industry”, and Ashley Bathgate being given a rare solo moment in the band’s set was exciting to see. To hear such a furiously-played amplified piece for electro-acoustic cello in an outdoor concert definitely made me think of Hendrix at Woodstock. As the rest of the group took the stage, guitarist Mark Stewart, who was making the announcements between the pieces, wondered aloud “If Jimi played the cello…”

The rest of the prepared first set went equally as well with some more All-Stars classics–David Lang’s “Sunray” (written for his father’s 80th birthday), Julia Wolfe’s “Lick” (designed after a funky James Brown piece in the way Julia Wolfe does it) and Louis Andriessen’s “Worker’s Union” (perhaps its most intense performance ever). The group, even with 2 people subbing for Robert Black and Ken Thomson (Gregg August and Michael Lowernstern, respectively, and did so so effectively that I hadn’t even noticed those guys weren’t there) and the looming threat of a downpour as the sky was only giving us a partly sunny day–on top of this the band was working with generated electricity in the aftermath of the facility’s power source being jeopardized by Hurricane Sandy, and at one point the sound cut out, yet you could still hear them–There seemed to be nothing that would make these guys stop or slow down.

After the break, there would have been a second set where the group was going to feature a Mark Stewart solo, repeat “Sunray” and “Lick” and wrap up the show with Thurston Moore’s “Stroking Piece #1” (Loved hearing that at 2012’s marathon), but during Mark Stewart’s solo performance of Steve Reich’s “Electric Counterpart”–replete with gorgeous looping effects on top of an already gorgeously-played guitar part, the rain creeped up on the event and finally managed to put a damper on it. Probably for the best since safety is the priority over the show (regardless of the “show must go on” credo), but the group definitely made the absolute best out of their circumstances and turned in some effectively executed repertoire for a summer concert.

Even though they only feature a few concerts each summer, Rite of Summer is a really good festival that brings new music performances to both the fans of the genre and the general public with some potential new fans.

There’s a couple more dates of Rite of Summer if you would like to check it out:

Saturday, August 10th 1pm & 3pm (raindate August 11th):
An Homage to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring: Ljova and Friends/Fireworks Ensemble

Sunday, September 1st 12pm-5pm (raindate September 2nd):
RITE-A-THON: Blair McMillen, Pam Goldberg, Tigue, Theo Bleckmann, Classical Jam and more

Bang On a

Rite of

Bang On a Can All Day ~ 2013 Marathon

Bang On a Can All-Stars performing at the Bang On a Can Marathon at Pace University (Photo courtesy of Glenn Cornett)bangonancan7

Arts Brookfield
in cooperation with River To River Festival and Pace University
2013 Bang On a Can Marathon
Michael Schimmel Center at Pace University, NYC
Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Ok, well here we go again!

Another amazing day of polarizing music from Bang On a Can went down this past Sunday, but I need to get something off my chest first–I did not like the change of venue. It was too intimate. I guess I’m spoiled by the gorgeously expansive Winter Garden at the World Financial Center, but sadly the garden just had to be scheduled for renovation for the planned duration of the marathon, so the Michael Schimmel Center for The Arts at Pace University was chosen for this year’s show. People were saying that this venue had nice acoustics, and suited quieter pieces like Hans Abrahamsen’s Schnee (performed here delicately and briskly by Talea Ensemble; mind you, a very challenging piece for first timers as it’s a hour in length) but there was something intense about heavy artsy culture being plopped into the laps of mainstream New Yorkers that I sort of missed from the WFC shows. Continue reading

A Weekend of Bang-Related Music ~ Double Review

This photo is from another performance by Bang On a Can All-Starsbangonacan5a

Bang On a Can All-Stars
performs Field Recordings
Regina A. Quick Center for The Arts at Fairfield University
Fairfield, CT
Saturday, January 26th, 2013

I was very happy that the Bang On a Can All-Stars came to Connecticut to perform the multimedia project Field Recordings–Honestly, I was quite happy they came here to play, period! It’s my first experience seeing them outside of the more-familiar stomping ground, the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center, and to see them on a stage with projection and playing an uninterrupted set of music was the way to really experience them. But, I was sad that the turnout wasn’t better. It makes me feel that portions of the country are not ready for this kind of music, and that’s a shame. They have no idea what they’re missing.

The cycle Field Recordings (all with the running theme of found sounds) is actually made up of nine separate pieces by nine different composers, and the opening piece “Reeling” by Julia Wolfe is a very uplifting and lively reel that is written on the vocals of a French-Canadian singer named Benoit Benoit–A rather fluid-but-crisp vocalist whose clip Julia based the piece around, and his voice here assumes the role of a folk banjo or fiddle. The active snapping the band does along with the wild but linear dialogue of the instruments are very exciting and help to make the piece set such a wonderful tone for the rest of the program. Continue reading

Fay Wang (a.k.a. Fay-Kueen)

Composer-vocalist Fay Wang (also known as Fay-Kueen) captured my full attention when I saw her piece “Pisces Monodrama” being performed at the Flea Theater last May (on my birthday, I might add), and the performance, which featured Wang herself on vocals, as well as some people I knew in the selected ensemble, was like something that once again requires me to again question what to call this always puzzling genre we talk about known as “new music” or “alt-classical” (sorry, Nico Muhly).
I actually reviewed this concert, and as for Fay’s piece, my first thoughts were that it sounded indie. 😉

Fay had some time to discuss this piece, her music in general (Do check out some more of it on her YouTube channel), and another project she has coming up with Bang On a Can. Continue reading

Bang On a Can All Day ~ 2012 Marathon

The Deep Listening Band performing at the Bang On a Can Marathon last Sunday (L to R: Stuart Dempster, conch; Brian Pertl, dung chen Tibetan horn; Pauline Oliveros, conch; Photo courtesy of Tom Steenland)

Arts Brookfield
in cooperation with River To River Festival
2012 Bang On a Can Marathon
Winter Garden at World Financial Center, NYC
Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Part One 
Written by me

Dither (the all-guitar ensemble featuring Taylor Levine, James Moore, Gyan Riley, Grey McMurray, and Josh Lopes) were the very first people to play at this marathon, and the piece they did (Lois V. Vierk‘s “Go Guitars”) was a very Jandek-like detuned dirge that proceeded to make the 2 elderly women sitting next to me get up and leave. At least I knew I was at the right concert.

This is not a review, per se. I had no real plans to cover this event with any kind of extensive blogging or descriptive reviews, but, even though I was only there for 8 of the 12 hours (Ugh! Long story why I couldn’t be there for all of it–Don’t get me started!), there’s so much beauty to observe, that I can’t not write something. Continue reading

Bang On a Can 2012 Preview ~ Marathon Schedule Announced

Here is the complete schedule of the 2012 Bang On a Can Marathon at the World Financial Center in NY on Sunday, June 17th!
This promises to be an incredible day of music, so please come out and see this marvelous marathon of edginess at the gorgeous atrium at the WFC.
By the way, did I happen to mention that it’s free?
EDITOR’S NOTE: Times are approximate due to performances.


12 noon

Go Guitars by Lois V Vierk
performed by Dither

Saint Arc by Daniel Wohl
performed by Ashley Bathgate

Awakening by Jeremy Howard Beck
performed by The Guidonian Hand

In Bounds by Evan Ziporyn
performed by Vicky Chow

Bash by Ruben Naeff
performed by NYU Contemporary Music Ensemble with Jonathan Haas

a) Crossroads
b) Boot by Michael Lowenstern
performed by Todd Reynolds and Michael Lowenstern


2 PM

In and Out of the Game by Eve Beglarian
performed by The Guidonian Hand

my lips from speaking by Julia Wolfe
performed by Grand Band

The End by Ruby Fulton
performed by Newspeak

a) Nibiru by Marcin Stanczyk
b) Stroking Piece #1 by Thurston Moore
performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars

A Humble Tribute to Guaguanco by Gregg August
performed by Heavy Hands


4 PM

Prayers Remain Forever by Martin Bresnick
performed by TwoSense

a) B & E (with Aggravated Assault) by Oscar Bettison
b) Sweet Light Crude by David T. Little
performed by Newspeak

Thou Shalt/Thou Shalt Not by Michael Gordon
performed by the Michael Gordon Band

Quasi Infinity, written and performed by soprano saxophonist Jonas Braasch

a) Land of Sorrows by Brian Pertl
b) From Now On by Pauline Oliveros
performed by Deep Listening Band


6 PM

Kaki King (Note: Selections to be announced from the stage)

a) Instructional Video,  b) Breakfast at J&M,  c) Matt Damon by David Longstreth
d) Piano Studies 2a, 3c, 4a, 11 by Conlon Nancarrow (arr. Evan Ziporyn)
performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars

Alvin Luciernarrating his own I am sitting in a room with James Fei, digital delay system


8 PM

a) Distorting Melody** by Akiko Ushijima
b) sunray by David Lang
performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars

Kris Davis‘ Massive Thread performing Massive Thread by Davis

Just Ancient Loops* by Michael Harrison with film by Bill Morrison
performed by Maya Beiser


10 PM

Six Pianos by Steve Reich
performed by Grand Band

DJ Envee‘s Bang on a Can Remix

le Noir de l’Etoile by Gérard Grisey
performed by Talujon

* World Premiere
** US Premiere

Bang On a Can 2012 Marathon
Sunday, June 17th 12 PM-12 AM
Three World Financial Center
200 Vesey Street, 11th Floor
New York, New York 10281
Tel: 212.417.7000
Fax: 212.417.7214

World Financial

Bang on a