My Bang on a Can 2016 Experience
I made sure to save and include every day of my Bang on a Can experience. It was such a joy to be in that environment, constantly working my creative output with a collective of collaborative musicians at the highest level. Such genuine, lovely people work and participate in these summer sessions, and hopefully this will give you taste of just how much can happen in 3 weeks, each day probably being 15 hours of hard work and great hangs.
What a welcome event! Some great food and celebration of everyone's arrival, I've pretty much met everyone involved! Now begins a day of introductions and the first rehearsal of the Bang in a Can composer attendee pieces I'm premiering. Should be a great first day of work!
We met with the groups that we will be performing the composer premieres with, read through the pieces, some great playing! We also got a taste of Nani, the instructor who would be teaching us some Ghanian song, dance, and percussion for a recital! Also, day 1 of yoga, much more intense than I would have thought, haha
-Rehearsed the Julia Wolfe, super crazy piece
- Rehearsed 10,000 birds for the John Luther Adams week in residence
- Ken Thompson put on a killer recital, such great playing and cool music. So glad to be working with him!
- Nani called me “All is Well” yesterday, today during class it was “Michigan State,” I’m sensing a t-shirt theme, haha
- Yoga is still hard, I take the “able” out of flexible
- Mass MOCA’s director spoke to us during lunch about the vision and challenges creating this place
Day 4 at Bang on a Can: more great interaction with musicians, rehearsal for a Grammy winning cellist's recital next week, African drumming/dancing, creating an improvisatory piece in front of an art installation and large audience, witnessing Mark Stewart work his magic over the crowd and show his talents, and sharing drinks and conversation with the locals.
All the months I was hyping this up doesn't do it justice, this is truly something special. I am so grateful to have this opportunity and I am not even a week a into the program.
- Dave Cossin put on a great recital, performing an Alvin Lucier’s “Still and Moving Lines of Silence in Families of Hyperbolas,” which allowed us as listeners to meditate or room the nearby gallery spaces to get different acoustic perceptions
- We rehearsed 10,000 birds and Hoketus (such a crazy fun piece, hard for a group)
- More great hangs at the Legion
- a recital showing off our drummer, singing, and dance skills that Nani taught us over the past few days!
Day 6: got a little time to practice, enjoyed another great recital that introduced me to Haegeum repertoire and the music of Larry Polansky and Scott Wolschlegger, saw an amazing performance of "Les Triplettes de Belleville" with a live orchestra, and had another great night at the American Legion with BOAC folks, a couple returning fellows, and members of that live orchestra.
- Chill morning, got some practicing in
- survived Hikael Gorden, a hike that Michael Gordon took all the BOAC fellows on
- the best barbecue hangs at the Mass MOCA director’s new 70s meets modern house, complete with a pool, gin and tonic station, beer, hookah, and plenty of great conversation
- Gregg August put on a great recital, showcasing some music from a Lincoln Center cruise quintet arrangement and a fierce cello/bass duet by Julia Wolfe
- We started the morning with soundpainting with Todd Reynolds. It was great to have done it for so many years at GVSU but it was also awesome to practice some new signals
- All of the BOAC participants got to hear the founding story, struggles/vision/development in their entirety, by founding composers David Lang, Julia Wolfe, and Michael Gordon. All of them are so wonderful, friendly, and such resonate spirits defiantly standing out among the rabble
Day 9: shredded some Tigran, improvised with some cool musicians, did some sound painting, rehearsed music for two concerts tomorrow, grooved on some Latin music during the seminar tonight, finally met Pascal LaBeouf, rehearsed some Cage and Andriessan, and closed down the Legion. Seriously, I am loving every day here in spite of the hurdles!
I guess I missed a day, so day 10 and 11 included:
-String folk jam at the Chalet
-Bang on a Can All Stars concert
- Great hangs at The Mohawk Tavern after a Michael Gordon birthday celebration at Bright Idea Brewing!
-More Latin Percussion jams
-rehearsing all the hard pieces (I.e Wolfe and Andriessan)
- hearing some great fellows perform and performing with in a trio improvising off of more art
- playing two concerts on Wednesday with some excellent musicians pushing me to play at my best, including Nick Photinos’ recital
- more memorable times with great people and learning so much
Seriously, I can't believe every day here, it's so cool
- Todd Reynolds put on a great recital showcasing a variety of his talents and involving plenty of people
- Latin night at the Legion was awesome! From grooving with the full band to sight reading some new charts among the showers of drinks, it was a great night dancing and celebrating our hard work
- More great lunch performances from the Bang on a Can fellows
- I got the morning off because I wasn’t part of the Brian Eno, very nice to relax!
Day 13 included:
- an amazing performance of "Music for Airports" by Brian Eno
- some time to relax and hang with friends
- Tom got to pour some beers for us at the Legion
- McDonalds hates us so we got pizza
- shedded more Tigran, the Wolfe piece I am performing, and worked on some original music
- snuck in a quick sauna session after dinner
- heard Vicky Chow perform a recital of some amazing music that continues to inspire my playing and drive to work
- time to practice the rep for concerts
- a performance of John Cage's "Atlas Eclipticalis" in the Richard Nonas gallery
- time spent relaxing and enjoying the company of other fellows getting dinner
- hangs by the lake and at the Legion
- Tom buying folks McDonalds (they didn't hate us last night!)
- some really great lunch time performances, including some Vijay Iyer and Andy Akiho by the RighteousGIRLS, a piece performed and written by my roomate Tyler Taylor, a hilarious piano duet, and several percussionists performing Steve Reich's "Music for Pieces of Wood"
- I played in a concert of some great world premieres, so many cool ideas executed so well by the fellows
- had some fun conversations with MOCA staff and some great hangs at the Legion grooving to Beck, Meshuggah, and Hiatus Kaiyote
- I got the morning off, which was weird but nice to not play with my tennis elbow/tendinitis issues
- jammed with Laura and Dylan doing some free improv and some fun grooves
- met awesome conductor Brad Lubman, who polished up "Tell Me Everything" to be ready for Saturday
- ears the beautiful music of Martin Bresnick performed in a great recital
- checked out Public for a chill pub with more beer options
- learned about the wonderful world of Whurly instruments in O of OI
- fought through tennis elbow and tendinitis to pull of rehearsals
- enjoyed some sleep and and a breather in the morning
- spent some time listening to Tigran and Bad Plus to work on some of their tunes
- Lake Windsor concert complete with local pizza, a group photo shoot, playing tambourine in the second line "Saints Go Marching In" portions of the show, seeing so many cool performances entertaining the audience all wrapped up with Mark Stewart's amazing sense of musical delight and audience involvement
- enjoying some great conversation at and after the Legion with Bang on a Can folks
- Listening to John Luther Adams speak about his life and how nature, spaces and close friends influence his music
- seeing the music of Bun-Ching Lam played at a great recital
- enjoying more great student performances for Tech Tuesday
- another great time in the O of OI with Balloon Powered Organ Pipes!
- had dinner with my uncle and Hilary Noble at a place in town caught up briefly before my concert
- Performed John Luther Adams' "10,000 Birds" in the expansive Richard Nonas gallery
- heard a variety of world premieres: each composer wrote a miniature to premiere at a small concert!
- heard more great lunch time concerts
- rehearsed "Tell Me Everything" one final time, knocking out some parts
- enjoyed a night of good conversation at The Chalet
- heard Ashley Bathgate SHRED her commissioned work "ASH" by the Sleeping Giant music collective
- saw a performance of John Luther Adams' percussion music in the Richard Nonas gallery
- saw the last lunch time concert, where everyone involved did an awesome job
- did a round of sound checks for the Marathon
- John Luther Adams coached us on his piece A Light Within during rehearsal and soundcheck
- John Jansen is visiting along with Adam Cuthbért and Matt Finch!!
- we had a great night jamming at the Chalet, idk how many tunes we played but it was so fun sitting in with some of the Bang on a Can All Stars and bearing witness to how they interact/lead a band
- Chalet = late night drinks and conversation
- got to have a relaxing morning communing with Bang on a Can fellows
It's so crazy that there is only the Marathon left!!!
How can I possibly summarize this experience? Day 20 was yesterday and it further solidified why I love Bang on a Can and the hard working, immensely kind and talented people that are involved in this experience. Everybody did so well at the Marathon, so much incredible music!
There were people from all walks of life, from The Netherlands to Australia, from the Ivy League and Royal Music Academies of the world to small cities, from the world of New Music to folk to jazz, from the most prestigious institutions to the most down-home organizations.
Nobody came with an ego. Not one person came across as competitive, only collaborative. To have this working group of musicians pour their heart and soul into their art every day was so motivational. It further solidifies that I am on the right track and that I have the skills in place to make a lot happen wherever I go.
I got to meet some amazing faculty and share in some great hangs/concerts, from Meshuggah loving guitarists to Grammy winning strings to fierce pianists and percussionists, everybody was much easier to talk to than their bio might let on. They don't let their accomplishments cool down their passion for art, they continue to put on amazing concerts and they are so good at their craft I can't explain it in this status.
Bang on a Can is a new home, a well to drink from for creative inspiration, a community that spans the globe and shares a common vision to soak the world in New Music and collaborative, shared experiences in music. It's well worth the money spent and it's something that will bring me back to North Adams for years to come.