Bang on a Can Media Workshop at MASS MoCA

An exploration of contemporary music criticism
and journalism 

July 27-Aug 5, 2019


“One of the most meaningful and impactful experiences of my writing career thus far.”  - Maggie Molloy 2018 participant

Our 2019 Workshop Participants are:

Vanessa Ague is a violinist, avid concertgoer, and aspiring musicologist who holds a Bachelor's degree from Yale University. She currently works at National Sawdust, a nonprofit music venue in Brooklyn, NY, and studies music history and theory at Hunter College.

Hannah Edgar is a Chicago-based editor, writer, and researcher. Recent bylines include Chicago magazine, The Classical Review, WFMT, and New York Philharmonic program books (2017/18 season).

Passionate about reimagining the classical canon, Elias Gross researches and writes untold stories of musical achievement to help expand and balance the scope of music criticism and history. When not writing for the Bang on a Can Media Workshop, Gross is a PhD student in musicology and educator at UNC-Chapel Hill by day and a violist/ mandolinist by night.

An Oberlin-trained clarinetist, Jeremy Reynolds is the classical music critic and reporter at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He also writes for Symphony Magazine, Early Music America magazine and San Francisco Classical Voice among other publications and has worked as an announcer at WRR Classic FM in Dallas and WCNY in Syracuse, NY.

This summer marks our second annual workshop for music critics and journalists!  Bang on a Can, our special guest faculty, John Schaefer (of WNYC's New Sounds), Will Robin (writer and musicologist), and 4 writers in the early stages of their careers will gather at MASS MoCA (the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA) to explore the role of criticism and journalism in today's dynamic contemporary music scene. Here is one of many articles generated by the 2018 workshop fellows. More articles are listed below.

The aim of the workshop is to help writers generate a vocabulary, syntax, and context that is most useful for readers/ listeners and to make modern music and criticism more accessible, welcoming, and exciting to all audiences.

The 2019 workshop will take place during the final week (July 27-Aug 5) of the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA -- a residency and festival for composers and performers (13 faculty, 30 performers, and 9 composers) and will include daily meetings with faculty and daily writing assignments. Additionally, participants will be "embedded" in the festival activities, attending rehearsals, workshops, and performances, enabling more insights into the process of bringing music to the stage.  

Participants in the workshop will:

  • meet with luminaries of the contemporary music field: Bang on a Can's artistic directors, our performance faculty, and our guest faculty.
  • witness the process of building new works from composition, to rehearsal, to performance.
  • have access to "primary source material" i.e. the performers and composers.
  • learn tools for a successful interview.
  • be a part of a community of peers at a similar career stage.
  • be embedded in the festival experience, do interviews, and write about them daily, to be published on the New Sounds website.

View work generated for New Sounds by our 2018 workshop participants: 

Daily dispatches:
July 24, 2018
July 25, 2018
July 26, 2018
July 27, 2018

final projects (features):
Bang on a Can, Sing through a Vacuum Tube, by Maggie Molloy
Bang’s Big Theory, by Lasse D. Hansen
Bang on a Can Summer Festival Marathon, 2018: Traditions and Highlights, by Stan Tymorek
Visual Art at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, by Sarah Lindmark

Also read Stan Tymorek's article on NewMusicBox about his experience at the workshop.

Writer Maggie Molloy describes her experience at the workshop: "Like music, the field of journalism requires one-on-one mentorship and individualized feedback—and the Bang on a Can Media Workshop was a rare opportunity to study with some of the most accomplished music journalists in the business. Having the chance to create and refine new work in a focused and fast-paced environment like the Bang on a Can Summer Festival thrilled, challenged, and inspired me as a writer. Not only did the experience strengthen my writing skills, but it also helped me connect with a whole new network of musicians, artists, and writers from around the world.

Info for applicants:

• Participants must be 21 or older.
• New music expertise not necessary, but some experience writing about music preferred.

Application requirements:
• CV/resume.
• A short personal statement about your current projects and why you'd like to attend.
• Three (3) writing or radio/audio samples. Links preferred for audio samples.

Workshop fee:
$1500 USD
The fee covers tuition, housing (shared double-occupancy hotel room close to museum), and meals (lunch and dinner Mon-Fri). The fee does not include travel expenses. 

Applications for the 2019 program are closed. Applications for the 2020 program will be available in Feb 2020.

Questions, please write to the workshop manager, Philippa Thompson at philippa [at] bangonacan [dot] org


"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture."  - comedian Martin Mull