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


Martin Bresnick ~ On the NY Premiere of “Ishi’s Song” at Lisa Moore’s Upcoming Sunday Gig, and Related Things


The great composer Martin Bresnick had a few minutes to speak with me about his piece “Ishi’s Song”, which is about to have its NY premiere by his wife, the great pianist Lisa Moore this Sunday afternoon at 3 PM at The Church of the Transfiguration. Lisa will also be performing works by Haydn, Schumann, Scriabin, Janacek and Jerome Kitzke. For info on tickets and directions, see bottom of the page.

CM: Can you please talk about the piece “Ishi’s Song”?

Martin: “Ishi’s Song” was commissioned by Emanuele Arciuli, the great Italian pianist. He was the start of it, and the money for it came from the people at the Aeroporti di Puglia (The Airports of the Italian Province of Puglia) because Emanuele was interested in Native American visual arts and culture. Interestingly enough, this Italian guy loves the art work of Native Americans, and he asked a number of folks to make piano pieces on the basis of art works or other subject matter from Native American traditions. One of the most famous stories about Native Americans is the story of Ishi, who was an Indian from Northern California, who may have been one of the last Native Americans to live completely independently from white people. Unfortunately his tribe, the Yana-Yahi Indians were practically all killed and rooted out of their homes… Continue reading

Grand Band Strikes LPR Again (A Review)

Grand Band soundchecking before the concert (Photo courtesy of Vicky Chow)grandbandsoundcheck

Grand Band @ LPR
Featuring Lisa Moore, Isabelle O’Connell, Vicky Chow, Blair McMillen, David Friend, and Paul Kerekes, pianos
Le Poisson Rouge, NYC
Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Written by Tristan McKay

Grand Band, New York City’s new music keyboard sextet, returned to Le Poisson Rouge this week to perform Simeon ten Holt’s magnum opus, Canto Ostinato. This evening marked their third appearance as a group—the first being at the Bang on a Can Marathon at the Winter Garden last June, followed by a concert at LPR of works by Julia Wolfe, Philip Glass, Kate Moore and Steve Reich in August. The sizzling, feisty and dazzling energy of Grand Band’s first two performances was this time substituted with a different brand of virtuosity: Canto Ostinato is a mystical, enchanting, and meditative epic, brilliantly and vividly animated by six of the most active and celebrated contemporary pianists around: Lisa Moore, Isabelle “Izzy” O’Connell, Vicky Chow, Blair McMillen, David Friend, and Paul Kerekes.

Canto Ostinato, composed in 1976 and first performed in 1979, is the most famous and frequently performed piece by Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt, who passed away last November. Despite this claim, I have never seen any of his music programmed in the city, and neither had anyone that I told about the concert. Grand Band dually honored the composer’s passing and did a service to the audience in bringing this work back to our collective attention. Continue reading

TwoSense Plays Roulette (A Review)

TwoSense are L to R: Lisa Moore (piano) and Ashley Bathgate (cello; Photo courtesy of Stephen Taylor)

Ashley Bathgate, cello
Lisa Moore, piano
Brooklyn, NYC
Thursday, October 4th, 2012

It was two familiar things for me on this night–My favorite new music duo TwoSense, and the venue Roulette on Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn, but this is the first time I’ve seen the duo at Roulette, and they seemed to make the place feel bigger than it was.

The evening was devoted to composers that happen to be all American, mostly living ones, and the first half of the program was three world premieres that were commissioned by the duo.

Ryan Brown’s Three Ideas Sleep (Furiously) was the first one up, and it was a plucky, uplifting delight with Ashley playing pizzicato all through the 2nd movement, followed by a chugging third movement. Continue reading

TwoSense ~ Preview of Their Roulette Show

TwoSense performing at the Bang On a Can Marathon in June 2012; Composer/pianist Paul Kerekes helping them out as page turner (Photo courtesy of Tom Steenland)

TwoSense (Ashley Bathgate, cello; Lisa Moore, piano) will be starting up the season with a concert on Thursday, October 4th at 8 PM at Roulette in Brooklyn, NY. 

The acclaimed duo will be featuring an all-American program comprised of pieces by mostly living composers, including some world premieres of commissioned pieces by Daniel Felsenfeld, Ryan Brown and Hannah Lash. Please come down and check them out!

Program (scheduled to be played):
“Three Ideas Sleep (Furiously)” (2012)*+ ~ Ryan Brown (b.1979)
“Nudities” (2012)*+ ~ Daniel Felsenfeld (b.1970)
“Pressure, Friction and Impact” (2012)*+ ~ Hannah Lash (b.1981)
“Fast Flows the River” (2009) ~ Timo Andres (b.1985)
Sonata for Cello and Piano Op. 6 (1932) ~ Samuel Barber (1910-1981)
*World premiere
+Commissioned by TwoSense

TwoSense is a NY-based chamber duo and commissioning venture. Established by the Bang on a Can cellist Ashley Bathgate and alumna pianist Lisa Moore in 2010. TwoSense perform new cello and piano works paired with mainstream classics. Described as the “new music equivalent of a special ops team” (New York Magazine), an “excellent duo” and “eloquent new-music interpreters” (New York Times) TwoSense frequently expand their creative boundaries collaborating with other musicians and artists. During the 2011-12 New York City season they appeared at Bargemusic, the Rubin Museum and the Bang on a Can 25th Anniversary Marathon at the World Financial Center.

Stephen Feigenbaum: Suspended Animation (Firehouse12, New Haven, CT; 10/2/10)

Click here for info and to buy tickets for TwoSense at Roulette
TwoSense, Thursday, October 4th at 8 PM
509 Atlantic Ave (corner of Third Ave)
(Downtown) Brooklyn NY 11217
Subway 2, 3, 4, 5, C, G, D, M, N, R, B & Q trains and the LIRR

Lisa Moore Piano : Two Sense

Grand Band at LPR (A Review)

Clockwise from left: Izzy O’Connell, David Friend, Paul Kerekes, Blair McMillen, Vicky Chow and Lisa Moore (Grand Band) performing at Le Poisson Rouge, August 7th, 2012 (Photo courtesy of Karen Chester)

Grand Band
Featuring Lisa Moore, Isabelle O’Connell, Vicky Chow, Blair McMillen, David Friend, and Paul Kerekes, pianos
Le Poisson Rouge, NYC
August 7th, 2012

Whatever your thoughts are about all-piano duos or ensembles (MY first thoughts are of acts like Ferrante & Teicher or The 5 Browns, though I also enjoyed Anderson & Roe), this first-ever full concert set at Le Poisson Rouge by the NY-based new music ensemble Grand Band, the group that was co-founded by Isabelle “Izzy” O’Connell and Lisa Moore, and was done so for the Bang On a Can Marathon, has been an electrifying blast of teamed-up keyboard prowess that for me had much more the effect of Fats Domino, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis when they played a hot rock and roll riff together on an old TV special.

When the group made their debut as Grand Band at the BOAC Marathon at WFC’s Winter Garden in June, they had 6 Steinway & Sons grands rented out at their whim, but for this affair, they had to settle for the next best thing–digital Yamaha pianos (and one Roland). But I can say this for sure–the sound of these keyboards still came across like 6 grand pianos in that room, perhaps a bit drier than at the Winter Garden, but they definitely made the right adjustments for volume calibration. Continue reading

Isabelle O’Connell

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Warren

Irish-born pianist Isabelle O’Connell (aka “Izzy”) is another great piano soloist I’ve come to learn about in the new music world. Along with an impressive solo career, she’s the brain-child of the fabulous project for 6 pianos called the Grand Band, a super ensemble that grew out of the initial performance of Julia Wolfe’s “my lips from speaking” from several years previously, and eventually became a massive blend of multiple pianos that was one of the major highlights of the Bang On a Can marathon this past June.
The Grand Band are in fact going to be performing a full-concert at Le Poisson Rouge in New York on Tuesday, August 7th at 6:30 PM, and they will be playing both the Julia Wolfe piece and the Steve Reich “Six Pianos” piece they performed at BOAC along with a whole list of other works.

Izzy had time to chat via Skype. Continue reading