Cal Performances at Home premieres a new film, Steel Hammer, based on the acclaimed oratorio by Julia Wolfe—a dazzling work that mines the sounds and stories of Appalachia. In Steel Hammer, Wolfe creates a musical amalgamation of every version of the folktale of “John Henry” that she could get her hands on—more than 200!—and weaves these often contradictory stories into an expansive allegory about the human cost of industrialization. The music marries folk cadences with driving rhythms in Wolfe’s densely layered compositional style. The film soundtrack, recorded by the Bang on a Can All-Stars and vocal trio, features hammered dulcimer, mouth harp, bones, clogs, banjo, and metal percussion.
The video premiere is May 6 at 7pm PT, and 10pm ET on May 6. It will be available on demand through August 4.