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An orchestra of guitarists performed “Glenn Branca’s Symphonies” at Masonic Hall (pics)

photos by Greg Cristman

It had dynamics. It rose quietly and carefully in four-square rhythm, constructing staggered, shifting layers of patterned harmony among guitars over Mr. Fox’s flow of powerful, swinging improvising over steady time. And the entire group built the piece upward by degrees, consolidating itself and moving forward, increasing a sense of emergency as the pitch rose, or the moving harmony diverged in wider patterns. After achieving critical intensity, the music suddenly retreated into quietness halfway through, and again two-thirds of the way through, rebuilding slowly each time in different ways, increasing its tempo toward the end, and culminating in some kind of extreme ideal: orchestral frenzy, caustic and complex and articulated, with the final downstroke and ring.

The first half of the concert reminded you of Mr. Branca’s achievement on paper. The second half was the kind of thing for which you go out to experience live music in the first place. It had the power to produce the double response of “there is no other music like this” and “this exists here, in this room, at this place; a recording wouldn’t even begin to replicate it.” – [The New York Times]

Part of the 2016 Red Bull Music Academy in NYC, “Glenn Branca’s Symphonies” happened on Monday, May 16 at the gorgeous, baroque Masonic Hall in Chelsea and featured three of the composer’s compositions for a guitar orchestra. That orchestra included longtime Glenn Branca associates Reg Bloor and Arad Evans, Haley Fohr (Circuit des Yeux); Randy Randall (No Age); Mick Barr (Krallice); Hunter Hunt-Hendrix (Liturgy), Ben Greenberg (Hubble, The Men) and Fabi Reyna of She Shreds magazine. There was also Justin Frye of PC Worship on bass as well as Greg Fox (Guardian Alien, Liturgy, Zs) on drums. They did two sets — Branca’s 8th and 10th Symphonies (The Mysteries) and, then after a break, the 12th Symphony (Tonal Sexus). John Myers was a passionate conductor while Branca, who gave out flowers to the members of the orchestra, sat at the soundboard watching the performance.

Pictures from the Masonic Hall performance are in the gallery above.

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