“First Fridays with Robert Black” welcomes the New Year with music by Robert. First on the program is “IT Music” – whimsical and quirky musical miniatures where the double bass is played every which way except the ‘normal’ way. Favorites include Zip IT, Beat IT, Rub IT, See IT, Creak IT, and more! Up next will be “The Possessed Improvisations” – music from Robert’s “Possessed” project – a series of improvisations with nature in the wild, rugged, and spiritual canyonlands of Southwestern Utah. Feel the bliss-factor.
“First Fridays with Robert Black” is a monthly series of virtual mini-concerts featuring brand-spanking new, recently new, and kind of new music for solo double bass – streaming from his home studio in Hartford, Connecticut, at noon (EST). Whether you’re having your morning coffee in Los Angeles, or lunch in New York, or that first glass of wine in Paris, or a late supper in Tashkent, tune in for some cool and compelling music.
Originally conceived and programmed for the Long Play festival, Bang on a Can, BOMB Magazine, and The Jewish Museum will collaboratively present a live concert performance by Laraaji from his home studio in New York City, and L’Rain and Laraaji in conversation.
This bill showcases a pair of artists, both long champions of NYC’s DIY music scene, who represent two distinct voices in the evolution of ambient music. Bang on a Can and BOMB Magazine will present a live concert performance by Laraaji from his home studio in New York City, and L’Rain and Laraaji in conversation.
Nick Dunston: Fainting is Down, Whooshing is Up
Ailie Robertson: The Bells Are All Silent
Ken Thomson: Birds and Ambulances
This performance revisits three recently premiered works from this season’s Bang on a Can Marathons. Hear the wild and wonderous energy of Nick Dunston, the tender and touching music from Ailie Robertson and Ken Thomson’s powerful yet poignant pandemic portrait. If you heard these pieces on one of the Bang on a Can Marathons, then you’ll enjoy a deeper dive into the music. If you’re hearing them for the first time, well…. you’re in for a treat!
Jakhongir Shukur: Potter’s Wheel performed by Robert Black
Jennifer Walshe: Happiness Starts Right Now
Maria Huld Markan Sigusdottir: Pending performed by Chi-Chi Nwanoku OBE
Gabriel Kahane: Hollywood & Vine performed by Arlen Hlusko
Gregory Spears: A Distant Ridge of Earth performed by David Byrd-Marrow
Kristina Wolfe: new work performed by Molly Barth
Amir Elsaffar: Thaw for bass clarinet solo, performed by Ken Thomson
Bora Yoon: Postcards from the Pacific
Matthew Shipp: Spaceman’s Blues
Joel Thompson: Supplication and Compensation performed by Anthony Roth Costanzo
Rohan Chander: △ or THE TRAGEDY OF HIKKOMORI LOVELESS from FINAL//FANTASY performed by Vicky Chow
David Cossin: A. C. T.
Eve Beglarian: A Solemn Shyness performed by Lara Downes
Ingrid Laubrock: Inkblots
Molly Herron: Canon No. 4 performed by Maya Stone
Alvin Lucier: Weirs for electric guitar and resonant objects performed by Mark Stewart
New Year! New Hope! New Commissions! On February 21, Bang on a Can presents an entire marathon of PREMIERES! 16 brand new works by 16 pioneering composers. Tune in to hear 4 hours of nonconformist, noncommercial, mind-blowing music. Alvin Lucier! Jennifer Walshe! Matthew Shipp! Ingrid Laubrock! Gabriel Kahane! and many many more.
James Tenney: Beast
Stuart Saunders Smith: Tunnels
Rifat Komachkov: Sonata
The March edition of “First Fridays with Robert Black” basks in some highly unusual music from an already unusual repertoire. Hear what happens at the intersection of Science and Art in James Tenney’s Beast, witness the dazzling wordplay theatrics of Stuart Saunders Smith’s Tunnels, and marvel at the bizarre bowing techniques of Rifat Komachkov’s Sonata. Music that will fascinate, electrify, and amaze.
Celebrated German Dance Company Sasha Waltz & Guests presents a live-from-Berlin viewing of a new dance performance to Terry Riley’s In C.
In 1964, Terry Riley kicked off a revolution with his landmark piece, In C. In 2001, Bang on a Can released a recording of their interpretation of the minimalist classic with a singular combination of amplified instruments from around the globe, propelling Riley’s transcendental masterpiece into the future. This recording on Cantaloupe Music was on The New York Times’ Top 10 Classical CDs of 2001 and Top 10 Pop CDs of 2001, as well as the No. 1 Ambient/Instrumental Record in Pulse.
On March 6, the Berlin-based dance company Sasha Waltz & Guests offers a live viewing of a brand new and innovative artistic process incorporating both digitally recorded and live formats, based on the musical foundation of In C. Waltz and her dancers have developed choreographic material that follows a similarly variable structure and is deliberately designed not to be a finished stage piece. This performance will be set to Bang on a Can’s 2001 recording (get it here!)
On March 7, we present the video premiere of Bang on a Can All-Star Vicky Chow’s performance of Michael Gordon’s Sonatra as a Watch Party. The program will include a Q & A about the work with Chow and Gordon, moderated by Ethan Iverson, also a pianist, composer, and critic best known for his work with the Bad Plus. Aside from Chow’s album release of the work (released February 23, 2018 on Cantaloupe Music – get it here!), this new video made by Denver-based director, writer, and cinematographer Souki Mehdaoui, is the only other recording of the piece.
Daniel Bernard Roumain: Why Did They Kill Sandra Bland? performed by Arlen Hlusko
Arnold Dreyblatt: Magnetom (2019)
Rohan Chander: △ or THE TRAGEDY OF HIKKOMORI LOVELESS from FINAL//FANTASY performed by Vicky Chow
Kristina Wolfe: Listening to the Wind performed by Molly Barth
Miya Masaoka: One String Thing Ding
Aeryn Santillan: disconnect. performed by Ken Thomson
Adam Cuthbert: Aquarian Solstice
Ken Thomson: Birds and Ambulances performed by Robert Black
Tomeka Reid: Lamenting G.F., A.A., B.T., T.M. performed by Vicky Chow
Steve Reich: Vermont Counterpoint performed by Claire Chase
Christina Wheeler: Missing/Still
Molly Joyce: Purity performed by David Cossin
Jeffrey Brooks: Santuario performed by Mark Stewart
Bang on a Can partners with Berliner Festspiele to bring you a LIVE ONLINE MARATHON as part of the MaerzMuzik Festival of Time Issues. The concert features a bunch of über-cool artists and pieces we’ve programmed over the past year for further consumption. In previous times we’d have packed up and hauled it all to Deutschland, but now we all can enjoy the Festival for Time Issues in, well, real time, all around the world.
Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir – Pending
Žibuokle Martinaityte – Abyssal Zone
Krists Auznieks – Arise
April’s “First Fridays with Robert Black” brings you large music from small countries. Experience pieces from Iceland’s Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, Lithuania’s Martinaitytė Žibuokle, and Latvia’s Krists Auznieks. Deep oceans – expansive skies – dazzling lights – music that shares a fascination with ethereal sounds and earthly sonics. Chill with the aural aurora, celebrate at the harmonics happening, immerse in the overtone orgy.
Michael Abels: Anguish from Falling Sky (world premiere) for Vicky Chow
Joan La Barbara: ad astra… for cellist who sings (world premiere) for Iva Casian-Lakos
Anton Batagov: Chaconne in A minor (world premiere)
Rudresh Mahanthappa: How Was Your Year? (world premiere) for Ken Thomson
Timo Andres: House Calls (world premiere) for David Byrd-Marrow
Leyla McCalla: Meditation #1 (world premiere) for Arlen Hlusko
John Hollenbeck: Persuasion (world premiere) for David Cossin
Carman Moore: STALLION (world premiere) for Robert Black
Kelly Moran: new work (world premiere)
Michael Fiday: Song for Eric (world premiere) for Jeff Anderle
Jonathan Bailey Holland: Subaquatic Meditation (world premiere) for Mark Stewart
Michael Daugherty: Six Riffs after Ovid for solo oboe (world premiere) for Titus Underwood
Soo Yeon Lyuh: See You on the Other Side (world premiere)
New Commissions! On April 18, Bang on a Can presents its 2nd entire marathon of PREMIERES! 15 brand new works by 15 pioneering composers. Tune in to hear 4 hours of nonconformist, noncommercial, mind-blowing music.
A Global Music Celebration curated and hosted by Found Sound Nation.
The OneBeat Virtual Marathon is back! OneBeat, a singular global music exchange led by our Found Sound Nation team, employs collaborative original music as a potent new form of cultural diplomacy. We are thrilled to present this second virtual event, showcasing creative musicians who come together to make music, not war. The OneBeat Marathon brings together disparate musical communities, offering virtuosic creators a space to share their work. These spectacular musicians join us from across the globe, from a wide range of musical traditions. They illuminate our world, open our ears, and break through the barriers that keep us apart.
Cal Performances at Home premieres a new film, Steel Hammer, based on the acclaimed oratorio by Julia Wolfe. Steel Hammer is a meditation on over 200 versions of the “John Henry” folk ballad. The various versions—based on hearsay, recollection, and tall tales—reveal both the evolution of the story, as well as the timeless tale of human versus machine.
The video premiere is May 6 at 7pm PT/ 10pm ET. It will be available on demand through August 4.
The May First Friday with Robert Black brings us Bass Beginnings – music from the mid-20th Century “Big Bang” moment that started the formation of an entirely new universe of music for the instrument – a universe that is continually expanding at an astronomical pace. Hear the jazz-tinged music of Barney Childs, modern lyricism from George Perle, and William Sydeman’s vibrant color palette. The Future was then. The Future is now.
Barney Childs – Sonata for Bass Alone
George Perle – Monody II
William Sydeman – For Double Bass Alone
Live Virtual Concert and Conversation featuring Steve Reich and Amy Sillman with performances by Bang on a Can All-Stars David Cossin, Mark Stewart
Piano Phase/Video Phase, performed by David Cossin
Electric Counterpoint, performd by Mark Stewart
This month, First Fridays with Robert Black takes a deep dive into the world of the double bass with bass music written by bass players. Transport yourself with the raga-inspired Poucha Dass by François Rabbath, meditate with the peaceful In Memorium from Rodrigo Mata, surf the sonic joy in Sonia Ray’s Ondas, headbang to the energy of Emil Tabakov’s Motivy, and let Xavier Dubois Foley’s Letting Go chill you out. Deep tones and good vibes. Remember, it’s all about the bass.
photo by Stephanie Berger
The Bang on a Can Marathon of Song features 15 performances streamed from musicians’ homes around the country and across the world. For this Marathon, all performances will include some type of vocalization – singing, speaking, murmuring, or other use of the voice.
“Humming, speaking, crooning, shouting, praying, tuneful, harmonized or noisy, we have spun songs since the beginning of our existence. These adventurous composers are redefining what it means to make song, and these powerful performers bring it to life with a myriad of colors and sensibilities.”– Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe
On June 20 from noon to midnight (EDT) Bang on a Can presents 12 hours of streaming performances of Michael Gordon’s Timber by ensembles from around the World. The show includes interviews with performers and collaborators, archival videos, remixes, and more!
Quiet. Still. Beautiful. Gentle. Calm. Hypnotic. Fascinating. This month, First Fridays with Robert Black immerses you in the simple yet complex sound world of Marcel Zaes with his Moments of Doubt. Hear the tender tones of 5 double basses (4 recorded, 1 live) rhythmically rub against each other to deliver you into a state of suspended animation where time stops, hierarchies melt, and transformation is possible.
2 days of ear-bending music and mind-blowing art featuring dozens of festival composers and performers, Kronos Quartet, the electric Bang on a Can All-Stars, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, and special guests.
Jakhongir Shukur: Potter’s Wheel
Carman Moore: STALLION
James Sellars: Prelude from Suite
The August edition of First Fridays with Robert Black brings you three master compositions by three master composers – Jakhongir Shukur’s Potter’s Wheel, a gently beguiling perpetual motion machine, Carman Moore’s STALLION, a charming and witty gallop, and the achingly beautiful Prelude by James Sellars from his 5 movement Suite. A program guaranteed to touch the heart, titillate the mind, and make you smile.
Violist and composer Jessica Pavone will present an acoustic program of original music for solo viola. Her indeterminate pieces for solo viola stem from years of concentrated long tone practice and an interest in repetition, song form, and the interplay between musical instrument and the human body. She combines her long-tone rituals with delay, understated melodies, and sparse lyrical content while continuously experimenting with new forms within the music. The compositions are informed by her physical relationship to her instrument and the role the body plays in the sound and intention.
Bang on a Can and The Noguchi Museum present the next concert in our Artists at Noguchi season – L’Rain! Brooklyn native Taja Cheek (aka L’Rain) has quickly become an acclaimed figure in New York experimental music. A multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and vocalist, her songs are equally rooted in r&b, jazz, noise, and pop, at once visceral, spiritual, ethereal, and urgent.
PROGRAM – “20th Century Giants”
John Cage – 59 1/2” (1953)
Elliott Carter – Figment III (2007)
Giacinto Scelsi – Mantram (undated)
Iannis Xenakis – Theraps (1976)
We’re back with Season 2 of First Fridays with Robert Black! This month’s program brings you “classic” pieces from some of the 20th Century’s major composers: John Cage’s minute-long piece jammed packed with squawks, squeaks, thumps, bumps and plenty of silence, the intense and dense lyricism of Elliott Carter, Giacinto Scelsi’s eastern tinged melismatic mantra, and a mind-boggling, Herculean epic from Iannis Xenakis.
Lee Ranaldo presents a special performance of his Hurricane Transcriptions with electric guitar quartet Dither and drummer Brian Chase.
Doors at 6:15 pm / music begins at 6:30 pm. Masks and proof of vaccination are required for entry. Tickets allow access to the Museum garden and galleries during the performance.
photo by Andrew Boyle