For most of its history, Alice Tully Hall has been known as a destination for polite evenings of chamber and classical music. But, every so often, the new music set has been known to storm the barricades, bringing to Tully a mix of acoustic and amplified sounds that can be both fresh and frightening to the uninitiated.
That rebel legacy was celebrated Tuesday night with a marathon concert featuring three of New York's best-known groups. Alarm Will Sound kicked things off, performing loud, feral works by Derek Bermel (Three Rivers) and Oscar Bianchi (Mezzogiorno). Caleb's oh ye of little faith..., which was commissioned for the occasion, started quietly with bells and chimes before building into a guitar-driven roar, punctuated by a huge bass drum that echoed throughout the hall.
The Bang on a Can All-Stars, who performed numerous times in the old Alice Tully, played music by founders David Lang (Sunray), Julia Wolfe (Lick) and Michael Gordon (for Madeline). They were joined by Wilco drummer (and occasional collaborator) Glenn Kotche for Kotche's own Mobile, which interspersed bald energy with shimmering texture.
The concert ended with a performance of Steve Reich's seminal classic Music for 18 Musicians. The musicians all wore white shirts and dark pants, like priests participating in a ritual (with the high priest himself sitting at the back right piano.) The music is full of hypnotic, trancelike patterns, but after an hour it started to feel long in the tooth at the end of an already-long evening.
But not so long as to pass up the free reception afterward in the lobby, where all the composers hung out for a good long while socializing. Which gave me just enough time to snag this:
You'd better believe that's going up on the wall. (More pics below.)