From Groningen, The Netherlands to Bordeaux, France to New York City, Autumn 2009 was awash in the colors of Fall and with the sounds of Red Poppies. David Lang, Michael Gordon, and Julia Wolfe (aka Red Poppy Music) have had an extremely busy season including a film score, several world premieres and two premiere recordings.
Wolfe, Lang, Gordon © Peter Serling
In September, The Joyce Theatre presented the US premiere of Michael Gordon’s collaboration with the Dutch choreographers Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten, [purgatorio] Popopera
. Click here
to listen to an excerpt of Gordon's score.
In October, both Michael Gordon and David Lang had premieres set to dance. Gordon's premiere, an evening-length work for six percussionists, was set to choreography by the Dutch dance company, Club Guy and Roni
and performed by the Dutch percussion group Slagwerkgroep Den Haag
in Groningen, The Netherlands, and then on a 15 city European tour.
Lang's premiere, with the American Ballet Theatre
at Lincoln Center's Avery Fischer Hall, was a selection of already composed music set to the choreography of Benjamin Millepied, called Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once
Julia Wolfe was invited to be part of the first edition of Evento, a new biannual celebration of urban spaces in Bordeaux, France. Her contribution, Travel Music
, which premiered on October 10, is a work in collaboration with the architects Diller, Scofidio, and Renfro and the Conservatoire de Bordeaux Jacques Thibaud — A city wide, 1 and 1/2 hour spectacle that involved more than 100 musicians and 200 school children playing bicycle bells, walking and riding pedicabs through the streets of Bordeaux, France. Wolfe comments on the premiere: "It was a spectacular event in Bordeaux and the piece was a big hit. The musicians traveled through the streets of Bordeaux playing music. In their ears they listened to the music from mp3 players and they imitated what they heard. When they reached particular chosen squares they performed musical events. In the end the full band gathered in a large public square for a rousing finale!"
The new film, Untitled
directed by Jonathan Parker and starring Adam Goldberg, features a new score and some previously composed music by David Lang. The director originally had approached Lang to simply license one work, but Lang was quickly brought on board as a consultant and composer for the movie. The main character in Untitled
is a "tortured" composer who, in spite of his brooding, has very noble intentions for his avant-garde art. Although not autobiographical, Lang's influence on the film is indeed felt through the humorous depictions of some aspects of the New York new music scene. The soundtrack is available from Cantaloupe Records
. Click below to watch a trailer for the film.
On November 8, Harold Rosenbaum and the New York Virtuoso singers gave the world premiere of the choral version of David Lang's Pulitzer Prize-winning composition The Little Match Girl Passion
at WNYC's Green Space. Click here
to see an excerpt from the premiere. You can also watch an interview between Lang and WNYC's John Schaeffer here
As well, Harmonium Mundi has released the premiere recording of Little Match Girl Passion,
with Paul Hilliard and the Theatre of Voices. Please click here
to see the details.
Julia Wolfe has also released a new CD of her works, the first since 2003. On November 10, Cantaloupe Records released Dark Full Ride: Music in Multiples
, with four premiere recordings: LAD
(for nine bagpipes), Dark Full Ride
(for 4 drum sets), my lips from speaking
(for six pianos), and Stronghold
(for eight double basses).
Lastly, as the Fall season came to a close, the Bang On a Can All-Stars
and Trio Mediaeval
gave the New York premiere of Steel Hammer,
in November at Carnegie's Zankel Hall.
The Bang on a Can All-Stars and Trio Mediaeval rehearsing
Julia Wolfe's Steel Hammer in Gainesville, Florida.
is inspired by Wolfe's love for the legends and music of Appalachia. She explains:
The text is culled from the over 200 versions of the John Henry ballad. The various versions, based on hearsay, recollection, and tall tales, explore the subject of human vs. machine in this quintessential American legend. Many of the facts are unclear – some say he’s from West Virginia – some say he’s from South Carolina – some say he’s from New Jersey... But regardless of the details, John Henry, wielding a steel hammer, faces the onslaught of the industrial age as his super human strength is challenged in a contest to out dig an engine. I drew upon the extreme variations of the story, fragmenting and weaving the contradictory versions of the ballad that have circulated since the late 1800s into a new whole - at times meditating on single words or phrases – in order to tell the story of the story - to embody the simultaneous diverse paths it traveled. The Bang on a Can All-Stars add a chorus of instruments including mountain dulcimers, wooden bones, banjo, and body percussion and join forces with the pure voices of the Norwegian vocal group Trio Mediaeval.
to read the New York Times
review of Steel Hammer.Please click here for more News, audio, videos and more!