Bang on a Can to Present Two-Day Tribute to Robert Rauschenberg at MoMA
In conjunction with The Museum of Modern Art's exhibition Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends (May 21-September 17, 2017), Pulitzer prize-winning composer David Lang and the music collective Bang on a Can will present a pair of concerts on Tuesday, May 23 and Wednesday, May 24 at 7pm at the museum's T1 (Titus 1) Theater (11 W 53rd St.), featuring commentary exploring these artistic exchanges and their legacy for contemporary music.
Throughout Robert Rauschenberg's six-decade career, he moved freely between the worlds of visual art and avant-garde music. Beginning in the early 1950s, Rauschenberg worked closely with the composers and performers associated with the New York School, including such pioneering experimental figures as Earle Brown, John Cage, Morton Feldman, David Tudor, and Christian Wolff. This rich dialogue shaped Rauschenberg's approach to art making as well as that of his musical collaborators.
The first concert, Part I, on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 7pm explores Rauschenberg's idea of the "Combine," his term for works that incorporate ordinary objects and materials into painting, through recent musical compositions that use every day sounds and images. Long time Rauschenberg collaborator Christian Wolff will explore these ideas in conversation with David Lang. New York's electric Bang on a Can All-Stars and alumni of the Bang on a Can Summer Festival will also perform featured works including Morton Feldman's Ixion (1958, rev. 1962); Bryce Dessner's Letter 27 with Film featuring Charles Olson (2013); Christian Marclay's Fade to Slide with Film by Christian Marclay (2012); Anna Clyne's A Wonderful Day (2013); and Christian Wolff's Suite (I) for Prepared Piano (1954) and Exercises 29 and 30 (2011).
Part II on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 7pm celebrates Rauschenberg's collaborations with John Cage and David Tudor through immersive works by both composers, reimagined for today by David Lang, audio engineer and sound artist Jody Elff, and violinist Todd Reynolds. Featured works are John Cage's 4'33" (1952) performed by Todd Reynolds; John Cage's Atlas Eclipticalis (1961) performed by The New School's Ensemble 4'33" and directed by Todd Reynolds; and After David Tudor (Homage to Fluorescent Sound) (2017) performed by Jody Elff and David Lang.
Bang on a Can is dedicated to making music new. Since its first Marathon concert in 1987, Bang on a Can has been creating an international community dedicated to innovative music, wherever it is found. With adventurous programs, it commissions new composers, performs, presents, and records new work, develops new audiences, and educates the musicians of the future. Bang on a Can is building a world in which powerful new musical ideas flow freely across all genres and borders. Bang on a Can plays "a central role in fostering a new kind of audience that doesn't concern itself with boundaries. If music is made with originality and integrity, these listeners will come" (The New York Times).
Over 30 years, Bang on a Can has grown from a one-day New York-based Marathon concert (on Mother's Day in 1987 in a SoHo art gallery) to a multi-faceted performing arts organization with a broad range of year-round international activities. "When we started Bang on a Can in 1987, in an art gallery in SoHo, we never imagined that our one-day, 12-hour marathon festival of mostly unknown music would morph into a giant international organization dedicated to the support of experimental music, wherever we would find it," write Bang on a Can Co-Founders Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe. "But it has, and we are so gratified to be still hard at work, all these years later. The reason is really clear to us - we started this organization because we believed that making new music is a utopian act-that people needed to hear this music and they needed to hear it presented in the most persuasive way, with the best players, with the best programs, for the best listeners, in the best context. Our commitment to changing the environment for this music has kept us busy and growing, and we are not done yet."
Current projects include the annual Bang on a Can Marathon; The People's Commissioning Fund, a membership program to commission emerging composers; the Bang on a Can All-Stars, who tour to major festivals and concert venues around the world every year; recording projects; the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival - a professional development program for young composers and performers led by today's pioneers of experimental music; Asphalt Orchestra, Bang on a Can's extreme street band that offers mobile performances re-contextualizing unusual music; Found Sound Nation, a new technology-based musical outreach program now partnering with the State Department of the United States of America to create OneBeat, a revolutionary, post-political residency program that uses music to bridge the gulf between young American musicians and young musicians from developing countries; cross-disciplinary collaborations and projects with DJs, visual artists, choreographers, filmmakers and more. Each new program has evolved to answer specific challenges faced by today's musicians, composers and audiences, in order to make innovative music widely accessible and wildly received. Bang on a Can's inventive and aggressive approach to programming and presentation has created a large and vibrant international audience made up of people of all ages who are rediscovering the value of contemporary music.