The 2016 People's Commissioning Fund

We are delighted to welcome the 2016 Peoples Commissioning Fund composers to our ever increasing list of commissionneesRené Lussier, Caroline Shaw, Gabriella Smith, and Zhang Shouwang who each composed a new work for our Field Recordings project.

Their new works were premiered on the February 6th PCF performance at Merkin Hall - part of the 2016 Ecstatic Music Festival. The performance also included music by Julia Wolfe: Reeling (from Field Recordings) and Breaker Boys (from Anthracite Fields), for which we were joined by Julian Wachner and the Choir of Trinity Wall St. We also paid tribute to Ornette Coleman by performing the piece he wrote for the All-Stars in 2005, Haven't Been Where I Left.

About the new PCF works:

René Lussier,  Nocturnal
In the last 30 years, I have often transcribed and transposed spoken language into music. I did the same with chickens, various tools, motors etc. Everyday life sounds inspire me for new frame works, new directions.
This time, the score is inspired by my sweetheart sleeping.  

Caroline Shaw,  Really Craft When You
A few years ago I wrote piece called Courante, inspired in part by the artist Sol LeWitt. Somewhere I'd read someone's characterization of him as a kind of textile artist, and from then on I always thought of him as a quilter. A designer of patterns, a gatherer of surfaces, a lover of color and shape. Child-like. Serious. Joyous. Methodical. Mechanical. While thinking about this piece for the Bang on a Can All-Stars Field Recordings project, I began looking through the Library of Congress archive (HT Alyssa) of recordings of interviews with quilters from North Carolina (my home state) and Virginia, conducted in the 1970s. I loved the way they talked about design, and about patience — about where you start when you start something new, and how you get through it to the end. I've written some quilting squares of music for the All-Stars to stitch together, and I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for listening.

Gabriella Smith, Panitao
Last January, while working on a small, family farm in a little town called Panitao in Southern Chile, surrounded by fjords, volcanos, and temperate rainforest, I recorded a dawn chorus one morning. For this piece, I decided to write imaginary bird songs for the instruments to play along with this Chilean dawn. In the begining of the piece, I slowed the recording down to less than quarter speed and pitch to produce a bizarre, other-wordly soundscape and then let it gradually ascend and speed up to recognizable bird song over the course of the piece.

Zhang Shouwang, Courtyards in Central Beijing
My grandparents said that Beijing is the courtyard houses along the dirty hutongs of the old city, over whose walls sometimes you see a million faded, dirty apartment buildings. Since Mao destroyed the walls of the city, old Beijing has been under attack, and five million Beijingers in the 1950s became thirteen million Beijingers today, with 5-10 million migrant workers walking through the hutongs that smell sometime of food from faraway villages. The office workers say that the ugly skyscrapers, the highways, the shopping malls, and the buses will soon destroy every hutong and courtyard house, and they say it as if they are sad. But they are lying. The courtyard houses are always there, in every secret part of the old city. I wrote this song in a courtyard house with a pomegranate tree, south of Gulou, two minutes from the Yuan emperor’s lake where Marco Polo swam. Here the feng shui is so strong that a flower seed can bloom in just three days. As proud cars and impolite trucks make noise all day on the highway from where you enter my hutong, an antique man still walks by every morning singing his knife-sharpening song.  I tell myself that this is what Beijing really sounds like, but I am not sure if I am lying just like the office workers.