Entries tagged with: Terry Riley
photos by Greg Cristman
Terry Riley / Matmos / Gyan Riley @ National Sawdust 10/4/2015
"Well you know, it's hard to accept labels in terms of creative work, in any case," he says. "In any period of life, I haven't felt nailed down to anything. I've always been interested in expanding my musical horizons. 'Minimalism' has been tacked on to my work, I think mainly because of In C and the Keyboard Studies and some of the works from the 60s." Then he allows himself a calm and gentle chuckle, before saying: "Certainly a lot of stuff has happened since then."The Terry Riley Festival is currently underway at new Williamsburg venue National Sawdust. Sunday night (10/4) saw three events, the last of which featured Terry Riley's Abbeyozzud and Beyond series of works with son Gyan Riley, Zach Brock (violin), David Cossin (percussion), Travis Laplante (saxophone), Matmos (electronics), and Evan Ziporyn (saxophone). They performed Thanks Isn't Enough, Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band, Tread on the Trail, and Hashish Master. Riley, who is celebrating his 80th birthday this year, was in attendance but didn't perform at this event, but has at others. Martin C. Schmidt of Matmos thanked Riley for "loosening the collective asshole of American music." More pictures from last night's late National Sawdust set are below.
As evidence, he points to his new piece for Roomful of Teeth, titled Madrigal. "It's basically melodic, but it also has scat-singing sections ... It's a bit of a journey, this piece. In eight minutes, it goes to quite a few places." Another jazz-world texture - specifically, what Riley describes as the "gently swinging, kind of optimistic" feel of ragtime - also figures in his string quartet works, as well as his latter-day piano improvisations. When that influence is placed alongside lessons gleaned from his longtime study of Indian classical music (and, yes, the occasional trace of drone-based minimalism), the climax of a contemporary Riley concert tends to find him juggling a range of sounds that few other musicians would think to combine. - [The Guardian]
The Terry Riley Festival wraps up tonight (10/5) with two shows: a 7 PM performance featuring two world premieres: Remember This, Oh Mind, and Madrigal, a new work written for Roomful of Teeth, as well as ArchAngels, for cello octet led by National Sawdust curator Jeffrey Zeigler (tickets may still be available at the door); and then a 9 PM performance featuring Terry and Gyan Riley performing with John Zorn (tickets)
National Sawdust, the former Williamsburg sawdust factory on N. 6th St. that has been turned into a multi-use facility containing a chamber hall, a recording studio, and a restaurant (three years and $16 million in the making), will finally open its doors this week. Thursday's opening night (10/1) features two "Discover the Space" show. The early show (7:30 PM) has Nico Muhly performing a new piece with Bryce Dessner and violist Nadia Sirota, Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq, National Sawdust Executive Director and composer Paola Prestini and more (sold out).
Then the late show (11 PM) has Cibo Matto performing with Nels Cline. They're playing a set from "National Sawdust Curators & Artists" which includes steel pan performer and composer Andy Akiho, cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, and poet Roger Bonair-Agard, and also a DJ set from James Murphy. tickets are still available and you can save 25% with coupon code: ARTISTLED.
Friday night (10/2) has two shows: Tanya Tagaq (performing a live score to Nanook of the North (tickets); and also pianist and keyboardist Leo Genovese who will present Legal Aliens, "a new set of compositions for a large ensemble comprised of musicians from around the world" (tickets).
There's also the start of the Terry Riley festival on Saturday (10/3) with Matmos, John Zorn, Roomful of Teeth, and more (tickets). Zorn gets his own festival starting next week, and other October events include Hess is More and Low City on 10/17 (tickets), and Montreal's Majical Cloudz and She-Devils on 10/21 (tickets). In November there's producer/remixer/video artist Shura on 11/6 (tickets) and Real Estate's Martin Courtney on 11/20 (tickets) and both of those shows are presented by Billy Jones of Baby's All Right and Elvis Guesthouse.
There's lots more coming up at National Sawdust, check out their calendar for details.
the in-process exterior of National Sawdust
Back in May, we posted details on the new non-profit Williamsburg venue National Sawdust, that's set to open on the corner of Wythe Ave and North 6th Street on October 1. Now the venue's initial schedule has been announced.
Three of the venue's curators, The National's Bryce Dessner, composer Nico Muhly and vocalist Theo Bleckmann, will team up for a concert on opening night. They'll be joined by the ACME ensemble and violist Nadia Sirota. Chris Thile (Punch Brothers, Nickel Creek) will open with a solo set. Tickets are on sale now. That's a 7:30 PM show, and there's also a late show that will have curator Jeffrey Zeigler teaming up with Cibo Matto and more (tickets).
Other upcoming shows include throat singer Tanya Tagaq on 10/2 (tickets), a multi-day Terry Riley festival (tickets), Chris Thile's band Punch Brothers on 10/8 (tickets), a John Zorn festival (tickets), Majical Cloudz on 10/21 (tickets), and much more. The venue currently has shows booked through December. Check out the full schedule.
That 10/21 show is currently the only upcoming tour date for Majical Cloudz, who have a new album on the way.
photo: Michael Gira in Chicago last month (more by James Richards IV)
The upcoming Big Ears Festival happening March 27-29 in Knoxville, TN, has been expanded once again. Like in past years, the festival will include a film portion, and a selection of that has been curated by filmmaker/musician Jim Jarmusch and Michael Gira, whose respective bands SQURL and Swans were already on the lineup. Like they just did In NYC, Jarmusch's band SQURL will perform scores to Man Ray's silent films. Here's more:
SQÜRL, film director Jim Jarmusch's band with drummer Carter Logan, will perform music that they wrote for several silent films from the 1930s by the legendary surrealist Man Ray. This project was premiered in late February in New York as part of WNYC's Silent Films, Live Scores program. SQÜRL, joined by lute virtuoso Jozef Van Wissem, also performed the score for Jarmusch's most recent film, Only Lovers Left Alive.There will be a Bill Morrison retrospective too, during which jazz guitarist Bill Frisell's quartet performing Frisell's live score to Morrison's The Great Flood (like he did at MoMA last year).
The occult electronic duo Demdike Stare will perform their re-scoring of 1922 silent Swedish/Danish documentary / horror classic, HÄXAN, Witchcraft Through the Ages. Technically filmed as a documentary about how superstition and the misunderstanding of disease and mental illness could lead to witch hunts, its dramatized sequences push it into the realm of horror films. It was originally banned in the United States.
Rounding out the Big Ears film programs for 2015, indie director Jim Jarmusch and Swans founder and leader Michael Gira have collaborated with the Criterion Film Collection in curating a program of select films, which will be screened on Sunday at Regal Entertainment Group's downtown Riviera Cineplex. Jarmusch's program is "Three in Black and White," an international triptych featuring Satayajit Ray's The Music Room, Aki Kaurismäki's La Vie de Bohéme, and Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg. Gira has selected a single film: the cult classic Eraserhead, David Lynch's groundbreaking feature film debut.
These additions join Swans, tUnE-yArDs, Silver Apples, Perfume Genius, Grouper, Ben Frost and more. Festival passes are still available.
Updated lineup below...
The lineup has been expanded for the 2015 Big Ears Festival, happening March 27-29 in Knoxville, TN. New additions include psych pioneers Silver Apples, former Battles frontman Tyondai Braxton (performing HIVE), Syrian pop singer Omar Souleyman, folk singer Ryley Walker, guitar wiz William Tyler, modern classical collective Bing & Ruth, electronic/ambient musician Loscil, cabaret singer Little Annie, and Chinese composer Wu Man.
They join previously announced artists such as Laurie Anderson, tUnE-yArDs, Swans, Perfume Genius, Grouper, Sam Amidon, Max Richter, Ben Frost and more. Tickets are still available.
Updated lineup below...
photo: Julia Holter at Bowery Ballroom in 2012 (more by Amanda Hatfield)
NYC's annual Ecstatic Music Festival returns to the Merkin Concert Hall this year with various shows happening from February through April, following the two free concerts at the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place in January. As always, it includes collaborations between indie and classical artists, and this year's lineup features Julia Holter, Xiu Xiu, Kaki King, John Zorn, Ikue Mori, Helado Negro, Emily Wells, Bang on a Can All-Stars (premiering works by Glenn Kotche, Jace Clayton and Ben Frost), and more. Tickets are on sale now.
Full lineup and schedule below...
Big Ears Festival will return to various Knoxville, TN venues in 2015 from March 27-29, and the initial lineup was just announced. Kronos Quartet will be the artists in residence for the weekend and perform at several concerts. Others performing include Laurie Anderson, tUnE-yArDs, Swans, Perfume Genius, Grouper, Sam Amidon, Max Richter, Ben Frost, Bryce Dessner, Bill Frisell, Jamie xx, Clark, Demdike Stare, SQURL, A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Nosaj Thing, Steve Gunn, Nels Cline, Amen Dunes, Jozef Van Wissem, Holly Herndon, Terry Riley & Ryan Riley, Harold Budd & Keith Lowe, The Bad Plus, Rhiannon Giddens, Tanya Tagaq and Hildur Guonadottir. Stay tuned for more lineup additions.
The shows will take place at the Tennessee and Bijou Theatres, the intimate Square Room, the Knoxville Museum of Art and more. Weekend passes go on sale Friday (11/14) at noon EST. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Knoxville music and arts education programs Joy of Music School and Community School of the Arts.
Mac DeMarco @ ACL 2014 (more by Tim Griffin)
You can browse our full NYC show calendar for all of tonight's shows, but here are some highlights...
Mac DeMarco, Connan Mockasin, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard @ Terminal 5
Three live acts who are rarely called boring, this show holds the possibilities of all sorts of hijinks. Will the evening end with all three bands jamming together shirtless? We'd bet a dollar on it.
Deerhoof, Xenia Rubinos, Tim Barnes @ Baby's All Right
Celebrating their 20th year as a band and the release of another strong album (La Isla Bonita), Deerhoof remain an arty indie rock dynamo live. This is their first of three consecutive nights at Baby's.
Coasting, Reading Rainbow, The Ar-Kaics, Roya @ Death by Audio
A couple two-piece band reunions tonight including Coasting (who haven't played in a few years), and Bleeding Rainbow in their original guitar/drums "Reading Rainbow" mode.
Joe Budden, Emilio Rojas @ SOB's
Joell Ortiz recently hit SOB's to celebrate a solo release, and now his fellow Slaughterhouse member Joe Budden will do the same for his Some Love Lost EP which comes out today.
TTNG, Emma Ruth Rundle, Mylets @ The Studio at Webster Hall
It's an all Sargent House night with the math rock of TTNG and Mylets along with the dark songs of Marriags/Nocturnes/Red Sparrowes member Emma Ruth Rundle, who put out an excellent solo album this year.
Lucero @ Bowery Ballroom
Country punk greats Lucero continue their 3-night run at Bowery Ballroom tonight which will have them opening with an acoustic set and then getting rowdy for a full-band set. Let's hope the bar stocked up on whiskey.
Terry Riley's "In C" (50th birthday concert) @ Le Poisson Rouge
Modern composer Terry Reilly celebrates the 50th anniversary of his 1964 piece "In C" which will be performed tonight by members of Ensemble LPR, Hotel Elefant and other musicians.
Highasakite, Count This Penny, Samantha Harlow, Joseph, Caleb Hawley, Michael Daves @ Rockwood Music Hall
Norwegian band Highasakite, who were to headline this three-stage takeover of Rockwood by the folks at Communion, had to cancel at last minute.
It's also Election Day, please get out there and vote!
For all of tonight's shows, and tomorrow's, check out our NYC concert calendar.
For laughs, check out the NYC Comedy calendar too.
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River to River Festival 2013 (more by Ryan Muir)
The free River to River Festival returns in 2014 to various outdoor NYC venues from June 19-29 and includes music, dance, theater, visual art, film and "unique participatory experiences." Some highlights this year include the annual Bang on a Can Marathon happening June 22 at Brookfield Place, Winter Garden (more info), and...
On June 24 at the Brookfield Place Winter Garden, world-renowned string quartet ETHEL is joined by guest guitarist Kaki King to present a special performance of ...And Other Stories. The collaboration is anchored by a re-imagining of Bach's masterful Brandenburg Concerto #6 and includes works from ETHEL's repertoire by Phil Kline and John Zorn, plus original compositions by Kaki King and the world premiere of a work by Serbian composer Aleksandra Vrebalov composed especially for ETHEL and Kaki King.Other notable shows include People Get Ready at North End Way on June 19; Piñata Protest, Kuenta I Tambu (KiT), Helado Negro and SLV at The Uplands, South Street Seaport on June 27; composer/percussionist Susie Ibarra (who just teamed up with Mirah for Ecstatic Music Festival) & Roberto Rodriguez on June 21 at India House (1pm), Peter Minuet Plaza (3pm), and Tear Drop Park (5pm); Sergio Mendoza (Devotchka, Calexico) with La Orkestra and Rey Vellenato Beto Jamiaca on June 29 at The Uplands, South Street Seaport; and more.
Last year's successful partnership with Original Music Workshop, a new music venue set to open in Brooklyn in 2015, continues with three more "Ex-Situ" concerts of contemporary music in site-specific locations. Curated by composer Paola Prestini, this year's series is dedicated to the music and influences of master minimalist composer Terry Riley. It begins on June 20 with "Terry Riley and Friends," a concert featuring works by the composer performed by musicians including his son Gyan Riley, Tracy Silverman and the Young People's Chorus.
Again, all River to River events are free and open to the public. The entire 2014 line-up is listed, with details, below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Joshua Light Show in action
The Joshua Light Show, founded by multimedia artist Joshua White, is perhaps the most legendary group of live music visualists. As resident artists at Bill Graham's Fillmore East during the late 1960's, and in performances at Woodstock, Newport Jazz Festival, Tanglewood, Carnegie Hall, and the classic film Midnight Cowboy, White and his cohorts created live, colorful, psychedelic projections behind the great bands of that era including the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and The Who.Joshua Light Show is in residence at the NYU Skirball Center from September 13-15. The crew of visual artists will be joined by a different set of musicians each night. The lineups include minimalist composer Terry Riley with guitarist (and son) Gyan Riley, avant-garde heavyweights John Zorn, Lou Reed, Bill Laswell and Milford Graves, and percussionist Evelyn Glennie with experimental harpist Zeena Parkins. The final show features Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden aka the members of MGMT. Tickets are on sale.
The bill here has the members of MGMT billed individually, but they'll be performing as a band at Osheaga Fest on August 3 in Montreal, and at Sands Steel Stage at PNC Plaza in Bethlehem, PA, on August 5. Tickets to that are on sale.
The full schedule and video of a recent Joshua White art installation are below.
Terry and Gyan Riley have been performing together since the late 90's and have appeared in concert throughout the USA and Europe. The music has a connection to the improvising traditions of both Jazz and Indian Classical but more importantly depends on a synchronous intuition that has developed between a father and a son. Sometimes they begin with a structure where melodic, harmonic, modal and rhythmic elements are predetermined along with a flow chart of sequential events but one of their favorite forms is starting from a place where neither performer has an overview and they must find their way together. Terry on piano, keyboard and vocals, has been on the worlds stages for over 50 years. Gyan has generated a lot of excitement with his astounding guitar virtuosity and his brilliant compositions. In 2011 they appeared at All Tomorrow's Parties in Minehead England and at Moogfest in Asheville, North Carolina.Terry Riley & Gyan Riley (with help from percussionist David Cossin and violinist Tracy Silverman) play a seated show at Le Poisson Rouge Sunday (5/13). Tickets are still available.
Gyan Riley can also be found this month at the Stone, where he curated the second half (May 17 - 31) of venue's May programming. (Buke & Gase handled the first two weeks.) Riley's run kicks off Thursday, May 17 with a solo performance by Tracy Silvermann who uses loop pedals to create soundscapes with her six-string violin. The late show that night is BLIXT aka Bill Laswell (bass) Morgen Agren (drums) Raoul Bjorkenheim (guitar).
Other highlights include Ian Williams of Battles on May 19, guitarist Charlie Hunter and drummer Scott Amendola on May 22; pianist Jenny Lin playing works from various Merce Cunningham composers on May 23; Riley and percussionist Dave Cossin performing as Superballs! on May 26; and Bang on a Can/Paul Simon cohort Mark Stewart on May 27.
Full schedule for the Gyan Riley-curated second half of May at The Stone is below.
by Andrew Frisicano
Terry Riley @ Big Ears Fest 2010 (more)
Composer Terry Riley is perhaps an unlikely addition to the Animal Collective-curated ATP happening in the UK in May. Maybe not, considering the minimalist influences in Animal Collective's music, though it's still be weird to see the 75-year-old Riley, who tends to play organ or keys live, billed under Big Boi.
You can see the composer at a more typical setting - (Le) Poisson Rouge - tonight (Jan 29th) with son Gyan Riley, who's a skilled guitarist, composer and improviser in his own right. Tickets are still on sale.
The pair will be celebrating two new albums: Gyan's solo guitar release Stream of Gratitude on Tzadik Records and Terry Riley and Gyan Riley: Live on Sri Moonshine Music. Parts of both are streaming on Gyan's website.
More upcoming Gyan Riley shows (some with Terry) including February 6th at Pianos, are posted below...
by Andrew Frisicano
this post concludes our Big Ears 2010 Festival coverage. links to the first two posts are also below...
"When people ask what my favorite place to play is, I tell them about this place. It's like playing inside an Easter egg," quipped My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden, gazing at the deep-sea blue dome overhead at Knoxville's Tennessee Theater. The psychedelic cavern, a mish-mash of decorative styles and colors, served as the home to the Big Ears festival's largest shows, and its final act on Sunday night, with headliner the National.
The National's presence was felt long before they took the stage - in the hand of guitarist Bryce Dessner, who co-curated the fest, in the National members' supporting gigs, playing behind Doveman, Clogs and others, and in the abundance of friends and fellow Brooklyn-ites in the Big Ears lineup. Of course, those are all connected. One look at the stage during the first song of the National's encore - "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" off their forthcoming High Violet - revealed a selection of Big Ears' top acts - Nico Muhly, St. Vincent, Shara Worden and sometimes-National members Padma Newsome and Thomas Bartlett (Sufjan came out for a song, but not during the encore), all of whom performed earlier in the weekend on their own. (Read here about days one and two)
Attendees also had the chance to opt for music outside of that circle. At Big Ears Annex, Tim Hecker and Ben Frost collaborated for a set of fragile, icy noise (they both played on their own earlier too - Hecker opened for Bang on a Can All-Stars' performance of Music For Aiports and the Books at the TN Theater). Trio Konk Pack took the same stage later for improvised noises, pops and whirs - like the soundtrack to an invisible film. The night before, one could choose between Liturgy and Gang Gang Dance - two bands at the top of their respective genres - while Terry Riley's In C filled the Tennessee Theater to its elliptical rafters.
Around the corner from the Annex at the Pilot Light, KnoEars, an unaffiliated, somewhat anti-Big Ears DIY Fest, hosted an all-day lineup that included homemade noise, Replacements-style punk and more emanating into Sunday's rainy street.
Terry Riley, selected to be this year's resident guide, performed four times over the three days - all in different settings. Other repeat acts like Thomas Bartlett (Doveman), who played with Sam Amidon, the fest's first act (interviewed here), and The National, its last, were frequent Knoxville fixtures for the three-day fest, running to their own gigs or enjoying others'.
"Mr. Riley also enjoyed a fair number of other people's shows, especially the art-song band Clogs. ("They were the hit for me," he said, beaming over breakfast on Monday morning. "Great performers, great writing. I'm going to buy their CD when I get home.")" [NY Times]Doveman and Nico Muhly both played earlier Sunday in a set that included material from their recent Peter Pears project, the Footloose soundtrack, and their 802 tour partner Sam Amidon (who had to catch a flight to Germany). That show's headliner, St. Vincent, provided a counterpoint to their pianos with a set of songs steeped in squealing noise and leveling distortion.
More pictures and videos from the fest are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Collaborations were the order of the day on Big Ears' Saturday, March 27th schedule (day two). At 1pm, the 802 Tour - Nico Muhly, Thomas Bartlett (Doveman) and Sam Amidon with violist Nadia Sirota - performed songs written by each. The National's Dessner brothers and drummer Bryan Devendorf joined for a selection of full-band Doveman songs, and the finale was a clamoring, epic version of the folk song "The Two Sisters" arranged by Nico (part of the percussion included Nico combing Thomas's hair). Sam played his own set with help from Thomas one day earlier, and later Saturday night.
Before that, the day started with Andrew W.K.'s Q&A-heavy lecture at the Knoxville Museum of Art (he played a set of music the night before) and a Bang on a Can All-Stars set that included works by Dave Longstreth, both at noon. Dirty Projectors performed later in the day (3:45pm) at Tennessee Theatre on a bill that also included DJ/Rupture and William Basinski who went on at the same time as Liturgy (who played at the Big Ears Annex at 2pm and then again at Pilot Light at midnight).
Clogs took the stage at the Bijou Theater with guests as well. Rumors of a solo set by Sufjan Steven circulated, but he only played one of his own songs, "Barn Owl Night Killer," on piano. Clogs were also assisted by Shara Worden, Aaron Dessner and Calder Quartet. Matt Berninger was delayed en route to Knoxville, so he didn't make his duet on "Last Song," for which main Clog Padma Newsome filled in. That wasn't the actual last song - new-album closer "We Were Here" was, which featured Sufjan on vocals and banjo along with Shara Worden and guitar by Aaron Dessner. A similar show happened in Brooklyn a few days earlier.
The Saturday headliners - Vampire Weekend and Joanna Newsom - both played to sold out crowds (Vampire Weekend at the sprawling, ornate-adorned 1600 seat Tennessee Theater with opener Abe Vigoda). Joanna Newsom's set was opened by Fred Armisen aka Jens Hannemann, a master of "complicated drummer technique." Armisen also joined her set for one song to play awkward and out-of-place cowbell.
At the Tennessee, the night ended with Terry Riley's Autodreamagraphical Tales - music from Bang on a Can over Terry reading from his actual dreams (Eastern religion and weed popped up frequently) - and In C, led by BoaC's Evan Ziporyn and featuring the rest of Bang on a Can All-Stars as well as Calder Quartet, Clogs, Nico Muhly, Nadia Sirota, Gyan Riley, and Terry on voice. The open-ended song stretched to an hour, canceling out any chance to catch late night sets from Javelin and Gang Gang Dance. Gang Gang was stil going when I arrived, but the club shut down the power mid-song and flipped on the lights promptly at 3am, sending everyone home.
A recap of Friday is HERE. More pictures and videos from Saturday are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Sam Amidon, accompanied by Thomas Bartlett, ushered in the first show of the 2010 Big Ears Festival at the Knoxville Museum of Art on Friday (3/26) with "Wild Bill Jones," his own version of the Appalachian folk song, punctuated with a piercing scream half-way through. "These are all folk songs, some from around here," said Sam, which was the right thing to say at the KMA, an institution whose collection and staff brims with East Tennessee pride. After a welcome by festival organizer Ashley Capps (whose AC Entertainment also organizes Bonnaroo) and co-curator Bryce Dessner, Calder Quartet and violinist Iva Bittova led the audience through the folk-inspired world of Bartok, Janacek and guitarist/composer Fred Frith.
A little after 7pm at the gorgeous Bijou Theatre (est. 1909), Terry Riley and his quartet - consisting of his son Gyan on classical guitar, Tracy Silverman on electric violin and Ches Smith on drums and marimba - played a series of extended ragas and genre-morphing songs. By midnight, an ecstatic crowd of all ages filled the hall for the xx. Just a few hours before, University of Tennessee basketball advanced to the NCAA Elite 8, and the partly collegiate crowd carried the celebratory mood to the gig. Some danced in front of their seats or in the aisles, and cheered in anticipation - in one opera box, an exhibitionist couple shared a drunken embrace dangerously close to the railing. Clandestine cigarettes were smoked as the xx performed their moody rock alongside minutely choreographed stage lights.
The earlier jj were even more laid back than the xx, with a sole singer, Elin Kastlander, standing before video projections that included an Italian soccer game, romps on the beach by Elin and co-member Joakim Benon, and whales and other nature scenes. We also got to see Elin roll a big blunt on screen, which might speak to her onstage ambivalence and generally lackluster approach. She did pick up an acoustic guitar once, as did her blond gentleman collaborator, Joakim, for a few numbers. With the music on autopilot, everything else - from the canned "native" beats to the narcissistic video - seemed to follow suit.
The first act had much better luck: Nosaj Thing's post-apocalyptic electronica, riddled with blippy bullets and ghostly echoes, destroyed the darkened theater. The xx gig was one of of the fest's sold out gigs (the others are currently Vampire Weekend and Joanna Newsom) but those with all-access Inner Ear passes ($250 now, but cheaper if you bought earlier) had no trouble finding front-row first-come, first-served seats if they showed at least 15 minutes before doors. The passes are pricey, but a good deal even if you make it to only 1/3rd of the 30-some shows at the fest.
A few blocks away, Andrew WK and the Calder Quartet finished their set with a cover of John Cage's 4'33" - or as Andrew put it "Johnny Cage! Fatality! Mortal Kombat!" The room was divided between those trying to rebel ("Play music!"), those trying to explain the piece ("It's supposed to be people talking"), those shushing, and those just enjoying the spectacle. Andrew returned for an encore of "Party Hard" (piano, voice and crowd participation) and brought out Calder's Eric Byers for a Bach cello piece, accompanied by an interpretive dance by Andrew WK (think "an impressionistic karate kid") dedicated to the late Merce Cunningham.
The compact nature of the participating venues in downtown Knoxville (one mid- and one large-size theater and a handful of smaller club-like spaces) gives Big Ears an intimate feel, and the festival's musicians - most recognizably, Sufjan Stevens, though his only performance is in a supporting role with Clogs (The BQE is being screened too) - can be seen hopping from venue to venue along with the fans.
The difficult decisions of Big Ears day one - Dutch post-punks the Ex against newcomers the xx - only intensify as the festival progresses, with the headliners like Joanna Newsom, Vampire Weekend and composer in residence Terry Riley all going head to head on Saturday.
More pictures and video from Big Ears day one are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
The Kronos Quartet and composer Terry Riley mark 30 years of prolific collaboration, a strong artistic relationship that has resulted in 26 new works. Transylvanian Horn Courtship, which draws inspiration from his legendary Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band performances in the 1960s, features a set of string instruments with metal horns created especially for Kronos by MacArthur Fellow Walter Kitundu. The program will feature other recent works and commissions for Kronos, including the premiere performance of Another Secret eQuation, for Kronos and the Young People's Chorus of New York City.The above program, happening tonight (3/11), kicks off Kronos Quartet's four-night run at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall. Tickets for all four shows are still on sale. You can hear Riley and Kronos Quartet discuss their collaboration on WNYC's Soundcheck from last Tuesday.
Friday's show is titled "Playing with Toys and Techonology" and features new work by J.G. Thirlwell, collaborations with "toy piano virtuoso Margaret Leng Tan and Portuguese instrument builder Victor Gama," and electronic duo Matmos, who will be performing new piece For Terry Riley with the Quartet.
Saurday night (3/13) Kronos will focus on music from around the Arctic Circle with Inuit throat singing of Tanya Tagaq (who has worked with Bjork and Mike Patton). A video of Kronos founder David Harrington discussing the group's past work with Tanya is below. Also joining will be "the plucked strings of Finnish kantele player Ritva Koistinen, the primitive sounds of the ancient Swedish hurdy gurdy electronically processed by Brisland-Ferner and Mattsson, and the muscular and rhythmic music of Finnish accordion-sampler duo Pohjonen and Kosminen."
The last show on Sunday centers on music from around the Asian continent: "With this program, Kronos travels from the shamanistic performance of Korean artist Dohee Lee, to the varied landscapes and textures created by Afghan rubâb master Homayoun Sakhi, to Alim and Fargana Qasimov's ecstatic spiritual expression of mugam from Azerbaijan." The later two are both featured on Kronos' newest CD, Rainbow: Music Of Central Asia Vol. 8, which comes out on Smithsonian Folkways March 30th.
Terry Riley is the featured artist Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, TN, on March 26-28, and he'll be performing several times at that fest.
More info on Kronos, videos of teh quartet at work and their upcoming schedule are below...
Joanna Newsom is one of the announced acts for this year's Big Ears Fest in Knoxville, TN, March 26th-28th. Others on the initial lineup include Vampire Weekend, St. Vincent, the Calder Quartet, Andrew WK, The Ex, Gang Gang Dance, Clogs, 802 Tour (Nico Muhly / Doveman / Sam Amidon with Nadia Sirota), The xx, Javelin, DJ/Rupture (solo), DJ/Rupture and Andy Moor, My Brightest Diamond, Gyan Riley, and jj. The fest's artist in residence is composer Terry Riley and a number of his works will be performed (including 'In C'). Bryce Dessner of the National is also one of the curators. Weekend tickets are on sale now. Tickets to invididual shows will be announced later this month, along with the schedule (shows are at different venues around town).
words by Andrew Frisicano, photos by Steven P. Marsh
As its length [about an hour] suggests, this was a leisurely "In C," and it began [at Le Poisson Rouge on Sunday the 8th] with a prelude of sorts: a rich aural haze surrounding a honking, spirited saxophone line that darted about for five minutes before the steady, pulsing C signaled the start of Mr. Riley's work. The ensemble, which included standard strings and woodwinds, as well as a few guitars, an accordion, a piano and percussion, moved between extremes of dense, flowing textures and transparent pointillism, with Mr. DeSantis's additions -- including what sounded like instrumental sounds played backward -- occasionally providing otherworldly effects.That's a review of the 'In C Remixed' album release concert that took place at (Le) Poisson Rouge on Sunday, November 8th. The night's performers, Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, were joined by 'remixer' Dennis DeSantis on laptop and electronics. The piece moved casually and steadily, and wasn't without its charms (the opening sax breakout noted above was an especially warm introduction), but my only regret was not finding a chair for the hour-long take. The two pictures here are from that show.
By design, "In C" sounds different in every performance, and this was as good a reading as many, but not the best I've heard: that distinction is still held by the vigorous Darmstadt performance at Galapagos in 2007. [NY Times]
The 2007 "best" In C performance referenced above will happen again when the Darmstadt series brings "In C" back to Galapagos on Monday, November 30th. The performance celebrates the five year anniversary of the series, which is curated by Nick Hallett and Zach Layton. For the piece they've recruited "a battery of avant-guitar gods (David Grubbs, Alan Licht among them), veteran composer-performer Jon Gibson (who played in the very first performance of In C), singers, instrumentalists across a wide span of tones and timbres, electronic musicians....all keeping to the beat of drummer Ryan Sawyer." All that and visuals by Joshua Light Show (who did the trippy background for Yo La Tengo at Roseland in September). Tickets (only $10+fees) are on sale.
On December 3rd, 4th & 5th, Darmstadt: Classics of the Avant Garde series will bring its second annual "Essential Repertoire" festival to the Issue Project Room. The theme for this year's fest focuses on the "30th anniversary of the seminal New Music New York concerts curated by Rhys Chatham and held at The Kitchen, which put the still-burgeoning Downtown Scene...under a mainstream spotlight and redefined the presentation of experimental music." The concerts are programmed accordingly, with music from "'Blue' Gene Tyranny, Connie Beckley, David van Tieghem, Jill Kroesen, Jon Gibson, Ned Sublette, Peter Gordon, Peter Zummo, Petr Kotik, Phill Niblock, and a performance of Meredith Monk's Dolmen Music by the M6 (who are at the Stone in December). Advanced tickets for night one are on sale, but not for two and three.
If more Terry Riley is your thing, he's been announced as the artist-in-residence at this year's Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, TN, March 26th-28th. A retrospective of his work will take place during the fest, and that'll be sure to include "In C." Tickets and more info TBA.
More details on Darmstadt and a clip from last year's festival are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
GVSU New Music Ensemble...
In 2007, Michigan's Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble recorded a stellar version of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, which they performed that year at the Bang on a Can Marathon (which ran 27 hours). Members of the group traveled to NYC to join in the Kronos Quartet-led performance of Terry Riley's In C last April at Carnegie Hall. Now, GVSU New Music Ensemble has put together their own recording of the classic composition, and they've invited 16 musicians and composers to remix the piece for a 2-CD set, In C Remixed, that comes out November 17th on Innova (the digital version came out Oct. 27th).
The remixers, who include Glenn Kotche, Nico Muhly, BoaC cofounder David Lang, and DJ Spooky (whose BAM Next Wave show happens the first week in December), all have a lot to say about In C and have come up with some diverse, left-field takes on the piece. They run the gamut from the straightforward electronic-music path to glitch-pop and twisted orchestral turns.
The GVSU New Music Ensemble will be in NYC to perform the piece live at (Le) Poisson Rouge on Sunday, November 8th. Joining them will be two album contributors, Dennis DeSantis and R. Luke DuBois, who'll do a remix of the performance live (and add video). Also on the bill are Slow Boys (fellow In C remixers Michael Lowenstern on bass clarinet and Todd Reynolds on violin). Tickets are on sale.
A video preview of the album and its full tracklist with contibutors are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Terry Riley's In C is being performed tonight (April 24th) at Carnegie Hall in NYC...
Experience the work that changed the course of musical history and influenced countless artists from John Adams to The Who. Specially curated by the Kronos Quartet for the 45th anniversary of the premiere of In C, a one-time-only gathering of musicians will perform the work in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage for the first time.Tickets are still on sale.
Featuring Kronos, Terry Riley, and original In C performers Stuart Dempster, Jon Gibson, Katrina Krimsky, and Morton Subotnick.
Plus Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan, Sidney Chen, Dennis Russell Davies, Loren Kiyoshi Dempster, Bryce Dessner, Dave Douglas, Trevor Dunn, Jacob Garchik, Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, Michael Harrison, Michael Hearst, Scott Johnson, Joan La Barbara, Saskia Lane, Alfred Shabda Owens, Elena Moon Park, Lenny Pickett, Gyan Riley, Aaron Shaw, Judith Sherman, Mark Stewart, Kathleen Supové, Margaret Leng Tan, Jeanne Velonis, Wu Man, Yang Yi, Dan Zanes, and Evan Ziporyn.
Also with Koto Vortex, Quartet New Generation, So Percussion, members of the GVSU New Music Ensemble, and members of the Young People's Chorus of New York City.
The group composition incorporates elements of improvisation and has no definite end point.
In C (1964) is probably Riley's best-known work and one that brought the minimalist music movement to prominence. Its first performance was given by Steve Reich, Jon Gibson, Pauline Oliveros, and Morton Subotnick, among others, and it has influenced their work and that of many others, including John Adams, Roberto Carnevale, and Philip Glass. Its form was an innovation: the piece consists of 53 separate modules of roughly one measure apiece, each containing a different musical pattern but each, as the title implies, in C. One performer beats a steady pulse of Cs on the piano to keep tempo. The others, in any number and on any instrument, perform these musical modules following a few loose guidelines, with the different musical modules interlocking in various ways as time goes on. The Keyboard Studies are similarly structured - a single-performer version of the same concept. [Wikipedia]Also this weekend, Terry Riley and son Gyan Riley will perform as a duo at (Le) Poisson Rouge Sunday, April 26th. Tickets are on sale.
Videos of In C, the Riley's at Terry's 70th birthday concert, and an interview with the composer, below...