Almost all the music you could ever want is on the internet right now, recorded perfectly and played perfectly and accessible immediately, 24 hours a day. On the one hand this is fantastic—I can hear huge amounts of music, from different genres and time periods and traditions and cultures, any time I want. On the other hand, I love hearing music live. If most music is now available and recorded perfectly and ever present, is it possible that the meaning of hearing music live will change? For the past few years I have been designing pieces that try to highlight things that can only happen live. I have written pieces that are so hard that watching the musicians struggle to perform them becomes a central part of the experience; I have written concert pieces that have elaborate theatrical instructions; I have written pieces whose power comes from the emotionality of hearing them from inside a community of listeners. With the whisper opera I had another of these ideas—what if a piece were so quiet and so intimate and so personal to the performers that you needed to be right next them or you would hear almost nothing? A piece like this would have to be experienced live. In honor of this, the score to the whisper opera states clearly that it can never be recorded, or filmed, or amplified. The only way this piece can be received is if you are there, listening very very closely.
love fail is a meditation on the timelessness of love that weaves together details from medieval retellings of the story of Tristan and Isolde with stories from more modern sources, honoring renowned vocal quartet Anonymous 4's longstanding commitment to medieval music with the direct, contemporary approach for which the composer is admired. The all-female quartet is acclaimed worldwide for combining historical scholarship with their singular and magical sound.
The music and libretto pull together narratives of love from such sources as Lydia Davis, Marie de France, Gottfried von Strassburg, Béroul, Thomas of Britain and Richard Wagner. Saturday, December 1, love fail will be presented in Royce Hall in a theatrical setting complimented by Jennifer Tipton’s dramatic lighting, simple sound enhancement and a range of small instruments played by the quartet, including autoharps, whistles, bells and simple percussion.
The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 2012 Next Wave Festival, The International Festival of Arts & Ideas, The John F. Kennedy Center Abe Fortas Memorial Fund, The Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, The Wake Forest University / Secrest Artists Series, and Hancher Performances at the University of Iowa
Anonymous 4: 6/29/2012 -- International Festival of Arts and Ideas; Yale Repertory Theatre; New Haven, CT
love fail may be performed as a staged version or a concert version.
''anatomy theater'' is about the human body—its inside, to be specific. In fact, ''anatomy theater'' questions the history of a kind of human meaning: what is the historic relationship between the spiritual and the physical interiors of a person? Before science the physical body was seen as the manifestation of the spiritual. The scientific dissection of people is a relatively recent phenomenon, but the insides of people have been examined for other purposes throughout history. For example, in certain parts of pre-modern Europe traveling specialists would tour from town to town and produce a kind of moral spectacle, in which the corpses of executed criminals would be dissected in front of a paying audience, with food and drink served and musicians playing. These were not scientific events, but spiritual carnivals, in which evidence of corruption was sought and uncovered in the interiors of the human body. These were essentially joyous affairs—a bit grisly but suffused with a bourgeois sense of complacence and order. The dissections were essentially voyeuristic—they are more about reinforcing the social differences between the audience and the criminal than they are about the pursuit of any kind of useful knowledge. They also contain the notion that the struggle between good and evil would have its results written within the human body. This is a very beautiful idea.
''anatomy theater'' is our own version of such a spiritual carnival. We propose to create a moral dissection, with images of bodies and environments projected on scrims, 3 singers—a lecturer, a demonstrator, and the corpse itself —3 musicians and a text drawn from surviving documents and contemporary moral tracts.
In classical music, it is quite unusual for composers to collaborate, but it wasn't like that among Flemish Renaissance painters –– if the painter in the studio next door did better angels and you painted better flowers, it wasn't unusual for a collaboration to ensue. In my case, however, the requests for collaboration has often come from others, and Julia Wolfe, David Lang and I found ourselves embarking on our third collaborative piece in 2004, courtesy of the Cologne-based musikFabrik ensemble and the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival.
The two other Gordon/Lang/Wolfe collaborative works ––Lost Objects and The Carbon Copy Building–– are made up of numerous short musical movements. With Shelter we wanted to stretch out a bit, and we conceived of the piece in seven longer movements. Once again we reunited with Deborah Artman, who had written the libretto for Lost Objects. Like Lost Objects, Shelter is a staged oratorio, but with smaller forces: three sopranos and a large mixed ensemble. And we reunited also with Ridge Theater and their principal artists, director Bob McGrath, visual artist Laurie Olinder and filmmaker Bill Morrison, our collaborators on The Carbon Copy Building,
Synopsis: A slave owner in the pre-civil war American South walks across his field and disappears, in plain view of his family, his neighbors and his slaves, forever altering the relationships among them. Everyone around him has his or her own sharp view of what that disappearance means, of why it had to happen, and of what will happen now that there is a ‘hole’ where a man used to be. Based on a one page story by the writer Ambrose Bierce, ''the difficulty of crossing a field'' was commissioned by Carey Perloff and the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. It was intended to cross between opera and theater worlds, mixing arias with spoken text, emotional melodies with intense drama. It is written for 5 principals and a chorus of 6 or more slaves, and the accompaniment is for string quartet on stage, both as the ''orchestra'' and as part of the set.
The original production was 22-24 March 2002 at the Theater Artaud in San Francisco, starring Julia Migenes as the wife of the missing planter and 2004 Tony-award winning singer Anika Noni Rose as the leader of the slave chorus, with music performed onstage by the Kronos Quartet.
Lost Objects is a musical exploration of the meaning of memory. With the spine of a baroque oratorio layered with the muscle of modern times, it is a powerful monument to the loss of people, things, rituals, ideas.
In their second major collaborative performance project, genre-defying composers Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe team up with polyphonic writer Deborah Artman to work a strange and beautiful alchemy of text and sound. The baroque virtuosity of the legendary Concerto Köln is challenged and stretched by the hard-edged electric Bang on a Can Lost Objects Ensemble and the avant-turntables of DJ Spooky. In the same way that oratorios such as Handel's Messiah were intended to be staged, the 3 vocal soloists and 30 voice chorus of LOST OBJECTS inhabit a mythic and beautiful stage world, under the direction of the acclaimed, award-winning director François Girard (''32 Short Films About Glenn Gould,'' ''The Red Violin'').
The result is LOST OBJECTS, a haunting, hallucinatory and humane musictheater piece for baroque orchestra, rock ensemble (electric guitar, electric bass, keyboard and drums), live DJ remix, solo voices and choir. The unique weave of sounds combines the resonance of animal gut and wood with the ethereal blend of soprano and countertenor voices mixed with the edgy force of amplified rock instruments and drums. ''LOST OBJECTS is a prayer hall, a hymn but also an invention,'' writes Ms. Artman. ''There is a narrative, somewhat sacred, but it is a fractured meditation. In the tenuous and hurried climate of the times we live in now, LOST OBJECTS asks us to pause and consider the grace bestowed upon each thing, person, animal and idea, the ordinary and the not-so-ordinary lost objects of our shared and vanishing culture.''
The Carbon Copy Building is a dynamic and visually stunning trip through the gritty underside of urban life. Words and drawings by celebrated New Yorker comic-strip artist and recent MacArthur Grant recipient Ben Katchor (best known for the dark, witty humor of his cult-classic comic Julius Kniple, Real Estate Photographer) are vividly brought to musical life in a completely collaborative effort from Bang on a Can Co-Artistic Directors Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe. The revolutionary show won the Village Voice 2000 OBIE Award for Best New American Work. After several years, the work is finally out on CD - accompanied by Katchor's beautifully illustrated libretto - in a limited edition hard-bound Book and CD case.
This revolutionary new production embraces the dark, witty humor of Katchor, known for his cult classic underground comic, Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, to look at a pair of buildings constructed from the same architectural plan. One stands on a wide, wealthy avenue and the other on the forgotten alley of a fringe neighborhood. Architecturally, the buildings and their plans are identical, but their uses and the people and businesses that inhabit them could not differ more. Combining the striking projections of Katchor's comics with powerful virtuoso performances by a cast of four singers and four musicians (winds, keys, guitar, and drums), the production inventories the contents of the buildings, explores the parallel yet opposite lives of their inhabitants, and uncovers the strange and hilarious places in which the two worlds overlap - finally bringing together the odd lives of each building over a single piece of cherry cheesecake.
Katchor's stark line drawing reverberates with the jagged angularity of Gordon, Lang, and Wolfe's explosive new music to depict a strange and powerful American urban experience.
Synopsis: Victorian art critic John Ruskin believes there are seven attributes in a perfect work of art: sacrifice, truth, power, beauty, life, memory and obedience. These concepts are the background for seven scenes from the critic’s life illuminating his relationships with art, his mother, his wife, a young girl and his love of Venice and disgust with the Industrial Age. ''modern painters'' is the title of Ruskin’s most famous work, a five-volume study of painting—spanning much of his life—that attempts to describe nature, people, ideas and relationships with intricate formulas.