Bang on a Can Media Workshop at MASS MoCA

An exploration of contemporary music criticism
and journalism 

Applications for the 2019 program coming soon. Please email "philippa at bangonacan dot org" if you would like to be notified when the applications come online.

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

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 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 28-Aug 4) 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 one of the festival ensembles to follow a piece from rehearsal to performance, enabling more insights into the process of bringing music to the stage. The participants will be invited to write a final piece (feature) about their experience to be published on the New Sounds website

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 for New Sounds.

View the daily writing generated for New Sounds by our 2018 workshop participants:
July 24, 2018
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uly 25, 2018
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uly 26, 2018
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uly 27, 2018

Writer Maggie Malloy describes her experience at the 2018 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.

If you are interested in our 2019 workshop or have any questions, please write to the festival manager, Philippa Thompson at philippa [at] bangonacan [dot] org

More specific information about our 2019 program and application information coming soon.

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