Now in its fifth 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.

Applications are online now and due Feb 5. 

The Jewish Museum and Bang on a Can Present
Unorthodox - The Mivos Quartet plays Steve Reich

On February 4, 2016 at the Jewish Museum, the acclaimed Mivos Quartet will perform  Steve Reich’s string quartets: the Holocaust-related masterpiece Different Trains, his intensely contrapuntal Triple Quartet, and the emotional and complex WTC 9/11.

This concert is tied to the Jewish Museum's current exhibition on view through March 27, 2016: Unorthodox. Inspired by the Jewish tradition of dialogue and debate, Unorthodox presents 200 works by 55 cross-generational contemporary artists from around the world whose practices mix forms and genres without concern for artistic conventions. United by a spirit of independence and individuality, the Unorthodox artists explore a range of themes including social and political values, religion, trauma, identity, and the human figure. 

We are delighted to welcome Rene Lussier, Caroline Shaw, Gabriella Smith, and Zhang Shouwang (of the Beijing band Carsick Cars) to our big family of People's Commissioning Fund composers!

The 2016 Peoples Commissioning Fund Concert is on February 6th at Merkin Hall and is part of the 2016 Ecstatic Music Festival!

The concert will also include Julia Wolfe’s “Reeling” from Field Recordings, and with Trinity Choir led by Julian Wachner from Wolfe’s 2015 Pulitzer-prize winning work Anthracite Fields, also nominated for a Grammy this year. 

John Schaefer of WNYC-FM will host the evening for future radio broadcasts on his program, “New Sounds Live;” the concert will be streamed live on Q2 Music and will be available for on-demand listening at


More about the 2016 PCF composers:

René Lussier’s new field recording for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Nocturne, is inspired by an intimate observation. Lussier says, “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 music is generated by my sweetheart sleeping. The rhythm and drama of her breathing, the melodies of her snoring.” Lussier, a native of Quebec, Canada, is a composer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist is known to New York audiences for his years of collaboration in the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet.

2013 Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw’s new piece has an unexpected inspiration as well. Shaw says, “I’m working with Library of Congress recordings from the 1970s, of quilters from North Carolina and Virginia talking about quilting. I love the way they speak about design and craft, about technique and imagination.”

Gabriella Smith says “I get a lot of my inspiration from the forms, structures, and energies in the natural world, and I also like math, which can describe these forms, designs, and energies so elegantly”.  Smith comes from
the San Francisco Bay area and she is currently a 2015-16 ArtistYear Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music, dedicating a citizen-artist year of national service in the Philadelphia region. 

Zhang Shouwang, frontman for the popular Beijing rock band Carsick Cars, and the experimental group White, has been one of the driving forces behind China’s underground music scene for the last decade.  Incarnations of Shouwang’s “White Project” have ranged from the guitar sextet White Ensemble, a rock duo called White 2J, an electronic duo called White+, and more.  Collaborators include the likes of legendary New Yorkers Sonic Youth and German avant-noise pioneers Einstürzende Neubauten.

We've never been able to do it alone. Bang on a Can is an extended family of composers, musicians and big-eared music listeners. And while it would be nice to think that it all runs on magic, in reality we need dollars for everything from commissions, to instrumental rental, to computers, to artist fees, to production costs and even sexy stuff like payroll taxes! That's right, act now and you can pay for Bang on a Can's payroll taxes!! Seriously though, we set our artistic goals high, and to make great art it takes great friends who support us generously.

This year's People's Commissions are going to four outstanding composers with four very different musical world-views. Their homes are in San Francisco, rural Quebec, New York City, Beijing. Their music ranges from subtle to challenging to rich and gorgeous. What they all have in common is that we think they're pretty darn cool. Really, really cool, and brimming with brilliance.

Gabriella Smith's something of a musical naturalist, drawing on the earth's sounds and energies to create swirling soundscapes. René Lussier is a virtuosic guitarist who creates utterly unique pieces via collage and musique concrète to trippy pastiche and improvisation. Caroline Shaw has emerged as a major force in new music, gaining praise from both the Pulitzer committee and Kanye West (a first?) while relentlessly touring the globe with her own phenomenal group Roomful of Teeth. And Zhang Shouwang has led a post-punk revolution in China with his group Carsick Cars, and now he's scratching his experimental itch with extended works for less familiar ensembles.

Help support these commissions and our Bang on a Can All-Stars. We have lots of great incentives to give, including our own Bang on a Can Coffee - Dark Full Roast! 

The Bang on a Can All-Stars will perform Field Recordings on Dec 21 at the Borusan Music House in the magical city of Istanbul! 

We continue our season at the Jewish Museum with an especially exciting and uncommon program of music by Soviet composers corresponding to the exhibit The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film peformed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars bassist, Robert Black along with the Hartt Bass Band, Ashley Bathgate (cello) and Katie Lansdale (violin)

Composers who were isolated behind the Iron Curtain had to develop their own unique ways of pushing musical boundaries. Robert Black explores this musical era with a program of chamber music by experimental Soviet composers Galina Ustvolskaya, Arthur Lourie, Yuri Sergeyevich Kasparov, Alfred Schnittke, Rifat Komachkov, and Sofia Gubaidulaina. A highlight of the program is a rare performance of Ustvolskaya’s relentless Composition No. 2 for piano, eight double basses, and one giant cube of wood.

The Bang on a Can concerts at the Jewish Museum are a wonderful and intimate salon-like atmosphere and we hope to see you there!

On November 14, Julia Wolfe returns to the anthracite coal region in Pennsylvania, which inspired her Pulitzer prize-winning oratorio, Anthracite Fields. In order to share the piece with the community that gave her such invaluable assistance its creation, Wolfe will give a talk at the Anthracite Heritage Museum in Scranton, and the public is invited to take a tour of the Lackawanna coal mine. That evening, the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, conducted by Julian Wachner, will perform Anthracite Fields at the brand-new Allan P. and Marian Sutherland Kirby Center for Creative Arts at the historic Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, PA. The piece is illuminated by the visual projections of scenic designer Jeff Sugg.

This part of the Pennsylvania coal region is two and a half hours from Philadelphia and New York City. Perfect for a day trip!

Nov 14 Schedule:

  • Lackawanna Coal Mine tours available from 10am to 2:45pm
  • 3:15-4:45pm: Anthracite Heritage Museum visit and talk with Julia Wolfe (admission is free on Nov 14)
  • 6:30pm: Pre-Concert talk at the Kirby Center, Wyoming Seminary
  • 7:30pm: Concert (A portion of the proceeds from the concert are to benefit the Anthracite Heritage Museum.)

Anthracite Fields was commissioned by the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia through Meet the Composer’s Commissioning Music/USA program, which is made possible by generous support from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Helen F. Whitaker Fund. Additional support was made possible through the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia Alan Harler New Ventures Fund, The Presser Foundation, The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia, and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.

“A United Nations of Music… world music in its truest sense.” – The New York Times

This month, Bang on a Can's Found Sound Nation will bring together musicians from all over the world for OneBeat - a program to create collaborative cross-genre works, record innovative music, produce short form videos, engage with local communities and practice music as civic engagement to promote resilient civil societies. OneBeat fellows are life-long ambassadors for their communities and cities; their combined voices create original works and projects that speak to audiences around the globe.

These boundary-breaking fellows from 17 different countries and territories, including Russia, Lebanon, Indonesia, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Servia, Senegal, Colombia, Egypt, Venezuela, and the U.S., bring singular and compelling stories, and range from experimental producers to deeply-rooted traditional virtuosi to indie-rockers and more. Read more about OneBeat and its participants.

Now in it's 4th year, OneBeat begins at the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, CA for a two-week residency, followed by a two week tour to Oregon and Washington where OneBeat fellows present audiences with a dynamic series of public performances and educational events. Tour schedule - Saratoga, Oakland, Sisters, Portland & Seattle. Our final shows from Nov 4-7 in Seattle bring us to museums & performing centers throughout the City, culminating in our final performance at the St. Marks Cathedral on Saturday the 7th. More info & tix.

OneBeat is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, produced by Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation.