Bang on a Can Media Workshop at MASS MoCA

An exploration of contemporary music criticism
and journalism

The workshop is on hold for now.

“One of the most meaningful and impactful experiences of my writing career thus far.”  – Maggie Molloy, workshop participant

Bang on a Can, our special guest faculty, John Schaefer (of WNYC’s New Sounds), 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.

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 workshop will take place during the final week of the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA (dates in 2021 tba) — 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.

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.

The application deadline for the 2020 program has passed. Please email philippa [at] bangonacan [dot] org to be notified when the 2021 applications are online.

View work generated for New Sounds by our 2019 workshop participants:

Earth Sounds: The Didgeridoo Stirs Controversy at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival – By Hannah Edgar and Elias Gross

“Get a Room:” Composer Rafailia Bampasidou on weird noises and intimate music – By Jeremy Reynolds

Power Struggles and Rebellion In “Eight Songs For A Mad King” – By Vanessa Ague

Rehearsals for “Dracula” screening at MASS MoCA frustrated by washing machine – By Jeremy Reynolds

Dispatches From the Bang on a Can Summer Festival 2019: Part 5 – By John Schaefer

Ambient Noise or Compelling Sounds? An Exploration of MASS MoCA’s Sound Installations – By Vanessa Ague

Pamela Z and the One Second Delay that Changed Her Voice – by Elias Gross

Visual counterpoint: The newest music at MASS MoCA  – By Jeremy Reynolds

Rose Marie and the Bangs – By Hannah Edgar

The Sounds of the Bang On A Can Summer Festival Meet the Sights of MASS MoCA – By Vanessa Ague

Who comes to Bang on a Can, anyway? – By Jeremy Reynolds

Bang on a Can Fellows fill MASS MoCA with sound — and it’s about to get louder – By Hannah Edgar

It’s Not All Hot Air: Bang on a Can Fellows Blow Up Musical Form – by Elias Gross
2018 workshop participant, 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.

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