Now in its sixth year, OneBeat is cultivating a groundbreaking international network of leading artistic, technological, and social innovators in music. An initiative of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, OneBeat employs collaborative original music as a potent new form of cultural diplomacy.

OneBeat brings musicians (ages 19-35) from around the world to the U.S. for one month each fall to collaboratively write, produce, and perform original music, and develop strategies for arts-based social engagement. OneBeat begins with an opening residency, when Fellows collaborate to create original material, record new musical ideas, and incubate their projects. OneBeat fellows then go on tour, performing for a wide array of American audiences, collaborating with local musicians, and leading workshops with youth. In a closing residency, each OneBeat musician sets out their plans for the future, developing projects in their home countries linked to a mutually-reinforcing network of music-driven social enterprises.

Composed for seven bassoons, Rushes takes its place alongside Michael Gordon’s Timber for expanding the boundaries of a single instrument’s repertoire into unknown (and at times, otherworldly) spaces. Like Timber, which maps new percussive territory for the simantra—a simple two-by-four slab of wood, amplified and played in a group of six to yield trance-like sonic textures—Rushes brings out tonal and timbral aspects of the bassoon that are meant to induce a quasi-meditative, almost ecstatic state, in the listener as well as the performer.

Years ago I pursed my lips and blew into a bassoon, and felt the entire instrument buzz as I droned on the very bottom note, a B flat. I held the long conical piece of wood in my hands with admiration — it was covered with what looked like a New York City subway map of shiny metal keys running every which way. The bassoon had heft and it was primal — the two reeds vibrating against each other produced a poignant and mournful sound.

It all came back to me on a cold sunny Thursday in January 2011. Five bassoonists set up in my living room. Along with 25 other bassoonists from far and wide, they had banded together and asked me to write a new piece. I’m not sure any of them imagined that my response would be an hour-long work for seven bassoons.

In earlier conversations with Dana Jessen, the American bassoonist who initiated this project, I had asked to look at all the influential bassoon music written in the 20th century. Dana showed up with just a small pile of music. I felt a little bit like Magellan. I knew there were worlds to find if I could just set sail.

During that Thursday afternoon, we explored a myriad of sounds and my living room was filled with an exquisite buzzing of dark tones. I was particularly drawn to the short percussive attacks by all the bassoons in counterpoint with each other. The texture had the aural effect of a Seurat painting, and I began to write for the instruments as if they were participants in an extreme sport — a non-stop barrage of ethereal rapid-fire points of sound that seamlessly shifted from one instrument to the next. This architectural movement of sound, which runs throughout the entire piece of music, is a technique that I first used in Timber, a percussion work for six amplified simantras. I imagined entering these waves of moving sound and embarking on a journey through a stark monochromatic landscape that slowly revealed its hidden colors.

The score, with tens of thousand of notes, looks a bit like an Escher drawing or a very long weaving pattern for a loom. In June 2012, in Edisto Island, South Carolina, I met with the seven bassoonists of the newly formed Rushes Ensemble. As we rehearsed, I thought that the piece had become like the thick river winding its way through the marshes and reedy growth surrounding us. I had already settled on the name Rushes, both for its reference to the reeds and to capture the mental state it produced. Now, with the seven bassoonists fully immersed in the music, I felt the primordial flow of sound harkening back to the very first reeds.

— Michael Gordon

People's Commissioning Fund Concert

PLUS Bang on a Can 30 Years Kick-off Party!

The Bang on a Can All-Stars perform new works by Nico Muhly, Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Juan Felipe Waller, an excerpt from Michael Gordon's chamber opera Van Gogh, music by Philip Glass and more. The concert is part of the Ecstatic Music Festival, and will be hosted by John Schaefer and broadcast on WNYC-FM’s pioneering show New Sounds Live.

The Bang on a Can People’s Commissioning Fund (PCF) concert is one of the most anticipated and reliable launching pads for emerging composers in New York and beyond. Founded in 1997, long before crowd-funding became the norm through Kickstarter and the like, Bang on a Can’s PCF has pooled contributions of all sizes from hundreds of friends and fans and since its inception has commissioned over 40 works of music. Bang on a Can celebrates 30 Years in 2017! Come join the party!



The Dublin Guitar Quartet goes electric for the third installment of Bang on a Can founding composer Michael Gordon’s series exploring the untapped possibilities of select instruments. In Timber (2012 Next Wave), layered polyrhythms rippled from amplified two-by-fours situated in the round. In 2012’s Rushes, seven bassoonists used circular breathing to sustain clouds of mercurial sound. For Amplified, Gordon’s experiment takes a six-stringed turn. With the audience seated on four sides, the musicians send reverb-saturated pulsations across the aural field while redefining what the guitar as an ensemble instrument can be.

The Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA is a musical utopia for innovative musicians in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts from July 15- Aug 5, 2017. The festival is dedicated to adventurous contemporary music and also includes African and Latin music workshops, electronics and music business seminars, free events in the community, and more. Applications are online now, and are due January 18, 2017.

Says a past participant: "I have never had an experience like this before: the idea of building the kind of musical world one wants to live in seems to be something that is really possible here -- it's a place of community and possibility that is utterly transformative."

The 30th Anniversary Marathon at the Brooklyn Museum needs you! To find out more about supporting the FREE 2017 Marathon:

When Michael Gordon’s Timber, scored for six amplified wooden 2-by-4s, premiered in 2009, it brought the physicality and endurance of percussion performance to a new level. In the liner notes for Slagwerk Den Haag’s recording of the piece, released on Cantaloupe Music in 2011, Gordon described a connection to the work of shamanist author Carlos Castaneda, whose self-imposed spirit journey in the desert could wipe the brain clean and “bring on visions.”

Newly recorded by Mantra Percussion and reworked by an A-list of producers and DJs, Gordon’s deep exploration into the extreme possibilities of rhythm gets the full electronic treatment on Timber Remixed. The double-CD set also includes Mantra’s live performance of Timber from the 2014 Bang on a Can Marathon.

Six key remixes by Squarepusher, Oneohtrix Point Never, Fennesz and more are also available on limited edition, individually numbered 180-gram vinyl.

Watch the promo video with Michael Gordon.

Learn more and purchase the album on Cantaloupe Music

The Bang on a Can All-Stars are now in residence with 10 fellows from the Villa Musica Academy in Neuwied, Germany, at the beautiful Schloss Engers on the Rihine River. All week we'll be offering daily recitals at the Schloss, and preparing for our finale concert at Frankfurter Hof in Mainz on Nov 26!

More details on our events page!