Electronic Feed

2017 Summer Music Preview

Celebrate Brooklyn 2016
It's Memorial Day weekend, which means it's time for the music to head outdoors into the parks, piers and schoolyards throughout the five boroughs (and beyond). As is our catholic, omnivorous nature here at FoM, our picks for the summer of '17 rolls everything up into just two categories: Free (or mostly free) and Not Free. Don't forget your sunblock.

(Mostly) Free:

Celebrate Brooklyn: (June 7-August 12) The city's best outdoor music series returns to the Prospect Park Bandshell for its 39th year on June 7 with a free show by Brooklyn soul rockers Lake Street Dive. Other highlights from the worlds of indie, folk, jazz and world music include Yeasayer, Poliça and Cymbals Eat Guitars (June 22), Andrew Bird and Esperanza Spalding (July 28), Béla Fleck (August 3) and Youssou N'Dour (August 12). Not to mention benefit concerts by Conor Oberst, Sufjan Stevens, and Fleet Foxes. 

Summerstage (June 3-September 2): This sprawling series reaches into all five boroughs with a potpourri of shows that run the gamut of rock, opera, R&B and more. Highlights include the Met Opera Recital Series (June 12-24) the Robert Glasper Experiment (June 25), and a Fela Kuti tribute with Roy Ayers and Seun Kuti (July 16).

NY Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks (June 13-18): Alan Gilbert has made it a hallmark of his tenure as the NY Phil's music director to conduct the annual parks concerts himself, which have typically been handled by a string of B-list guest conductors. (Gilbert grew up in NYC, and says the parks concerts were formative experiences for him.) Bring your blanket and come cheer Alan one last time as he closes out his eight-year run with an American-flavored program of music by Bernstein, Gershwin and Dvorák (the "New World" symphony). Followed by fireworks, of course. 

Make Music New York (June 21): Celebrate the longest day of the year with this citywide musical happening, with performances on street corners and in the parks. Grab an instrument and join in! 

Warm Up at MoMA PS1 (July 1-September 2): Now in it's 20th year, the summer's best outdoor dance party returns to Long Island City with ten Saturdays of DJ's and live acts performing in the courtyard of MoMA PS1. Tickets ($18-$22) include museum admission. (LI City residents get in for free.)

Lincoln Center Out of Doors (July 26-August 13): This year's Damrosch Park season includes performances by Angelique Kidjo (August 2), Rumer w/special guest Dionne Warwick (July 29), Nick Lowe (August 5), and a tribute to Pauline Oliveros (July 28). 

Charlie Parker Jazz Festival (August 24-27): The summer winds down with the 25th edition of this always-superb free weekend of jazz, which this year expands to four days with the Anat Cohen Tentet, Lee Konitz, Terry Lyne Carrington, Tia Fuller, Lou Donaldson, Joshua Redman, and others. 

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MATA's Young Composers Now! Festival at The Kitchen

by Steven Pisano

Mata Festival at The Kitchen(All photos by Steven Pisano.)

The MATA Young Composers Now! festival, ending a week-long run at The Kitchen tonight, turns 20 years old next year. Over that span of time, MATA has introduced audiences to what developing composers around the globe have been exploring. The results are often thrilling, sometimes bewildering - and never boring. 

Tuesday’s lineup was entitled “Wow and Flutter,” and featured the Danish ensemble Scenatet playing works by composers from as far away as Germany, Turkey and Japan. A highlight of the festival is that most of the composers are actually on hand to discuss their work with executive director Todd Tarantino and artistic director Du Yun - who, in a happy coincidence, just won this year's Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Kaj Duncan David (England/Denmark) kicked off the festival with “Computer Music”, featuring the seven members of Scenatet seated at a long table as if at a banquet, with MacBooks in front of them. The music was a little like what you might hear in an old arcade video game: each time a tone sounded, one of the musicians lit up with a color. Think of the scene at the end of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, when the scientists and aliens communicate with each other through light and sound. If aliens land in New York this week, we can send out Kaj Duncan David to communicate with them!

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Big Ears Festival 2017 Recap

ACME Big Ears 2017

"I think the unexpected nature (of Knoxville) gives the festival a certain relief that it wouldn't have if it was where everybody expects it to be."

- Ashley Capps, Founder/Artistic Director, Big Ears Festival

When most people think of Knoxville - if they think of this east Tennessee city of less than 200,000 at all - they might think of the University of Tennessee, which has its main campus in town, or of the surrounding Appalachians, which gave us both moonshine and Dolly Parton. But, for some time now, Knoxville has transcended its relative obscurity with its outsized cultural offerings: it has its own orchestra, its own art museum, and in the past year alone, more than two dozen restaurants and breweries have opened downtown.

But, if there's one thing that's put Knoxville on the international map more than anything over the past few years, it's the Big Ears Festival, the ear-bending festival of new and adventurous music that just wrapped up its sixth edition this past weekend. This was my third consecutive Big Ears, and everything seemed both bigger and more accessible this year. Indeed, it was difficult to walk anywhere in downtown Knoxville without feeling that you were in the middle of a musical theme park. I mean, where else can you bounce from jazz pianist Matthew Shipp, to Meredith Monk, to Wilco? And, that was just on Friday.  

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Tristan Perich at The Kitchen

by Robert Leeper and FoM Dither Quartet
Let me cut to the chase: there is no one today writing music that is more relevant, more engaging, more viscerally exciting than Tristan Perich. Over the past decade, Tristan has carved out a unique niche at the crossroads of acoustic and electronic, of visual art and sound, of theoretical physics and hacker culture. And he's done so in a way that cloaks his music's complexity in a vein of ecstatic trance, much as Steve Reich does in his deceptively minimalist compositions. 

The Kitchen, which has been something of a home for Tristan over the past few years, presented a two-day retrospective of his music this past weekend, all of which utilized 1-bit electronics and a variety of acoustic and amplified instruments. On their own, these 1-bit sounds come across like a Game Boy gone wild, but there is something uniquely satisfying, even thrilling, about the interplay between digital and analog Tristan achieves with these works.

"I think about the basic states of a signal," he says, "as it moves through a circuitboard and then out to a speaker... (the same as music) from a score to the actions of a musician on stage."

On Friday night, electric guitar quartet Dither kicked things off with a new version of Interference Logic (2010, rev. 2017). The music started softly and simply, until suddenly the peace was shattered by a piercing electronic pulse: not quite a siren, but no less insistent or penetrating. Over time, the guitars slowly built in volume until they eventually overpowered the 4-channel electronics. Man: 1, Machine: 0.

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