Posted in To Do | music | pictures on August 15, 2008

photos by Jason Bergman

Rhys Chatham @ 60th & Columbus

Rhys Chatham: A Crimson Grail (2008) for 200 Electric Guitars (Outdoor Version) (World Premiere)
Commissioned by Lincoln Center for Lincoln Center Out of Doors

Next, composer Rhys Chatham and section leaders John King, Ned Sublette, David Daniell, and Seth Olinsky (Akron/Family) lead an oversized orchestra of 200 volunteer guitarists and electric bassists in the world premiere of A Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars (Outdoor Version) performed not on the Bandshell stage but along the sides of the audience at Damrosch Park, to heighten the work's polyphonic effect. The work, originally composed for Paris' famed Sacré-Coeur, has been extensively revised to suit the dynamics of the Park's outdoor acoustic.

That description describes 1/3 of tonight's free show called "Wordless Music: 800 Years of Minimalism - The Spiritual Transcendent" at Damrosch Park (August 15) (part of the Lincoln Center Out of Doors series). Last night there was a rehearsal at the St. Paul of the Apostle church at 60th and Columbus. Jason stopped by and took a few pictures...

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

200 guitars

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Comments (26)

can't wait for this. anyone know how long this piece is? and what time it's supposed to start?

Posted by Anonymous | August 15, 2008 12:54 PM

somebody tell that fool to take his cub scout hat off. he's in a church.

Posted by Anonymous | August 15, 2008 12:56 PM

88 drummers? blah..
this kicks ass.

Posted by Anonymous | August 15, 2008 1:17 PM

Religion is for dummies.

Posted by Anonymous | August 15, 2008 1:34 PM

do I need a ticket or just show up?

Posted by Anonymous | August 15, 2008 1:45 PM

re: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 12:56 PM

agreed. always remove your hat when entering a spiritual place. unless ya sport a kippah.

Posted by annie momus | August 15, 2008 1:53 PM

I know a sturdy dolly when i see one!

Posted by Waffle | August 15, 2008 2:55 PM

Show begins at 7pm, doors at 5:30

there are already people outside listening to soundcheck

also includes the joshua light show that will be projecting old school blotter art on the bandshell

dont miss this

Posted by Anonymous | August 15, 2008 3:30 PM

cancellation?

Posted by Anonymous | August 15, 2008 6:15 PM

Alright I'm going to be the first to chime in here - how about telling us it was cancelled before sitting through an hour of gottsching. I respect him, don't get me wrong, but I did not go to sit through an hour of dance music surrounded by people thinking they were at bonnaroo. They should have done it unplugged, even with electric guitars, it would have sounded better than nothing.

Posted by Anonymous | August 15, 2008 10:52 PM

i'm so effing pissed off that they made me sit through an hour of monotonous as hell gottsching. it was torture and then only to be told that the guitar performance was NOT going to happen, when the VERY well could have told us that it was cancelled before making us sit through that misery.

NO EXCUSES organizers. you guys really effed up on this one majorly.

More than half the crowd would have bailed if we knew there was no hope of seeing the guitar piece performed, but NO, you had us SIT THROUGH gottsching.

Wordless looks bad.

Lincoln Center looks bad.

Even poor Gottsching looks bad.

Get it right next time and don't make us sit there for NOTHING. not cool. I was half expecting the entire crowd to boo.

Posted by Anonymous | August 16, 2008 12:01 AM

Great rehearsal photos. There were contingency plans to play the whole thing in the church with a smaller audience but they kept it outside hope against hope (hi Robert Poss). Weather forecasts are more accurate now than Woodstock and I was pretty surprised at the decision.

Posted by Hugh | August 16, 2008 2:48 AM

unbelievable. you organizers are inconsiderate AND horrible. i hope you're happy you made us all sit through that hour long wretched set all for nothing.

Posted by Anonymous | August 16, 2008 4:07 AM

sh!t, i was one of the 200 guitarists that was supposed to play in this, and *i'm* pissed about sitting through that show. we gave up 3 nights for rehearsals, were there for soundcheck at 1pm on friday, and then stood in the rain for 4 hours...and then through that endless E2-E4 b.s. show...

there was a contingency in place (the show would have happened at st. paul) but they had to make the decision about the choice of venue at noon due to all the equipment & people involved. i still can't believe, however, that they didn't have a way of dealing with the weather. i'm no electrician, but...

really, really sucks.

Posted by Anonymous | August 16, 2008 9:52 AM

seemed like the outdoor show probably wasn't going to happen after the NYC tornado alert at 6 pm - the forces of nature arrayed

the website is very clear once you find it rain cancellation is not determined until showtime

Posted by asrtongnymous | August 16, 2008 12:20 PM

Is there no rain date?

Posted by dr daunius | August 16, 2008 2:13 PM

Chatham said something about trying again next year.

Posted by Hugh | August 16, 2008 4:18 PM

the website was NOT clear.

it said to show up to damrosch to find out if there was an alternate location with limited seating. this was to be the church. the church wasn't used and they made this decision by 12pm that day. wordless and lincoln center organizers are to blame here. they wasted everyones time.

Posted by Anonymous | August 16, 2008 4:46 PM


Rain dates aren't really an option when the piece was rehearsed with a specific ensemble that only existed for this week (many of the players were in town only for the rehearsals and the gig, and couldn't just "try again next week").

The piece itself could be played at some point if a location and sponsorship were found, but rehearsals would have to start over from scratch with whatever musicians were available for that new occasion.

FWIW, if the show had been moved to the church a lot of people wouldn't have been able to get in anyway, as it was a lot smaller than the park, and up to 400 seats would have gone to guests of the musicians right off the top. Of course that's still better than no gig at all.


Posted by anonymous | August 16, 2008 5:25 PM

I was one of the guitarists and when I showed up at 1 o'clock for setup, the weather was already looking sketchy. The decision to go ahead with the outdoor performance was ridiculously optimistic and ended up being a colossal waste of time, money and goodwill. Maybe the piece would have sounded a little better outdoors, but it sounded great in St Paul's. Eschewing the church for the performance was a horrible decision. Sorry to all of you who went out of your way and braved the deluge.

Posted by Anonymous | August 16, 2008 9:14 PM

Wasn't Gottsching supposed to go on last? He was the headliner, as far as I could tell. I went there to see Gottsching, but I had a feeling it would take forever for Gottsching to actually come on so I bailed. If I'd known he was going to come on sooner I would have stayed. So F them for changing the order around!

Posted by Brock | August 17, 2008 1:33 PM

I was also one of the guitarists and traveled quite a bit to attend the rehearsals/show. While I was extremely disappointed that we didn't get to play the concert,the rehearsals were incredible and it was by far the best sound I've experienced.They really shouldn't have risked everyone's effort and just held the concert at the Church .Where the piece wanted to be played *take note Rhys ;)*

That's life though.Don't be too pissed that you had to sit through E2-24 ( I have to admit I was getting sleepy after the first half hour) /A lot of people sacrificed a lot more to be let down at the very last minute. Hopefully , with patience , you will be able to experience 'A Crimson Grail' sometime in the future.It really is something special.

Posted by Anonymous | August 18, 2008 2:51 AM

btw - someone started a face book page for all of us participants...i think it's something like 200 guitarists new york.

we're all trying to band together, so that we can make this happen...


i have to say, this week will be one of the most memorable experiences of my life...

Posted by joshua | August 18, 2008 4:07 AM

"Get it right next time and don't make us sit there for NOTHING. not cool. I was half expecting the entire crowd to boo."

On behalf of the 200 people who volunteered for this, the others who worked logistics to make it happen, the others who spent or donated thousands of dollars to pay for stuff and most importantly, the composer/conductor who took the risk of an outdoor performance to present a really great piece of music in an unprecedented way, please let me be the first to say -

We are all truly sorry for you.

I appreciate that you have taken your time to emphatically broadcast your feelings on the matter, helping everyone else keep in mind who was most wronged by this turn of bad luck - you.

It's too bad it was a free concert or else you could be demanding your money back.

= Justin

Posted by Justin Foley | August 18, 2008 3:27 PM

Too bad this didn't happen!

Posted by Anonymous | March 16, 2009 12:39 AM

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