29 October 2012

Bang on a Can All-Stars in Melbourne

The festival is over and for the first time in a few years, it felt like an arts festival again. Like the wonderful Artists Club of the 05-08 events, the Foxtel Festival Hub gave us space to mix and enjoy. Can we please never have another festival without this sort of space.

This week, it's time to sleep – apart from things like Bill Bryson's lecture on Wednesday and an MTC opening on Thursday – and next week is already filled.

I'm most excited about The Bang on a Can All-Stars first Melbourne concerts on Monday 5 and Wednesday 7 November at the Recital Centre. Details here.

WHAT! (just checking). It's true. The concert on Monday 5 November is FREE. Book here. Book now.

I first saw this group in 1996 when Barrie Kosky brought them to the Adelaide Festival. I went on a friend's spare ticket and am forever grateful. It was love at first dissonant note and I saw them three times. They changed how I saw contemporary music.

My favourite contemporary music experience to date remains their concert in the Adelaide Playhouse that ended with Philip Glass's Two Pages. Demanding, basic and hypnotic, its refusal to resolve drove many to leave (in awesome Adelaide huffy style), but left the rest of us weak. I've since played it a dinner parties – it doesn't work, but it's great car music.

Bang on a Can was formed in New York by David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe in 1987 with the first BOAC Marathon concert. Dedicated to making new music, the marathon concerts have run for 25 years.

The six-piece All-Stars were created in 1992. Freely crossing boundaries between classical, jazz, rock, world and experimental music, they continue to shatter any category and definition of concert music.

Sydney gets John Cage concerts (jealous), but Melbourne gets two (two!) concerts that are impossible to choose between.

First is the Australian premiere of Field Recordings, with nine new works that asked the composers to re-discover authentic American folk music and bring back sounds to challenge their own music. Using film, found sounds and archival audio and video, Field Recordings "builds a bridge between the seen and the unseen, the present and the absent, between today and the past". This is the FREE one.

Concert two includes the Melbourne premiere of BOAC founder Julia Wolfe's Big Beautiful Dark and Scary, written after watching 9/11 attacks with her two young children, two blocks from the Twin Towers. (After listening to this, also find John Adams's remarkable piece about 9/11, On the Transmigration of Souls.)

And they're playing Brian Eno's Music for Airports. I could start to rave, but I may not stop if I do.

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