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June 2014

Make Music New York 2014

 by Robert Leeper

In (Key)
Photo Credit: Jocelyn Gonzales

The longest day of the year was greeted in New York on Saturday with enough activity to tide people over well into the summer. Out on Coney Island, there was the Mermaid Parade; in Times Square, thousands flocked to do yoga. Whatever you did, it was a beautiful day to be out.

But, for my money, the thing to do this summer solstice was Make Music New York, with some 1,300 shows taking place throughout the five boroughs. Make Music NY first appeared in 1989, inspired by France’s Fête de la Musique. In 2007, the event resurfaced with a vengeance, focusing on site specific events and sheer quantity and accessibility to inundate the City with music.

With music literally spilling out into the streets of New York, I tried to cover as much of it as I could--though in the end, I ended up seeing only a small fraction. My journey began at 2pm outside of Greenwich Village's Cornelia Street Cafe. Composers Collaborative presented In (Key), a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Terry Riley’s iconic (or, depending on your point of view, infamous) ode to short rhythmic motives, In C. Riley’s 1964 response to the academic serialism of the time seemed well at home with the relaxed mix of minimalist super-fans, casual brunch goers, and nervous, out-of-their-element NYU parents.

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Alarm Will Sound Performs "I Was Here I Was" at the Metropolitan Museum

by Steve PisanoKate Soper (left) as Amelia Edwards at the Temple of DendurKate Soper (left) as Amelia Edwards at the Temple of Dendur (photo by Steven Pisano)

Last Friday, Alarm Will Sound performed a new music-theater piece, I Was Here I Was, with music by Kate Soper and a libretto by Nigel Maister. Soper's work was about the Temple of Dendur, the 2000-year-old Egyptian temple that was famously rescued from a watery oblivion in the 1960s when Egypt built the Aswan Dam. So, it was appropriate that the piece was performed in the Sackler Wing of the museum, right at the steps of the temple itself, which was moved to the museum in the late 1970s. It was almost as if the temple was listening.

The work covered different periods in the temple's past, from the time it was built in 15 BC to the present day. Notably, it included a lyrical section drawn from the travels of the nineteenth-century British traveler, Amelia Edwards, whose writing about her trip to Egypt inspired Maister's libretto.

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Preview: Ear Heart Music Presents Tan Dun's "Ghost Opera" at Roulette

Tonight at Roulette, the Ear Heart Music series closes out its season with a rare performance of Tan Dun‘s Ghost Opera, performed by the Momenta Quartet and pipa master Zhou Yi. Inspired by "the magic of Chinese peasant shamans," Ghost Opera combines elements of the western classical tradition with Chinese shadow puppet theater, visual art, folk music, and shamanistic ritual. Given Dun's flair for the dramatic, this should be quite a spectacle.

To open the evening, composer, guitarist (and scionGyan Riley pairs with Bang on A Can All-Star percussionist David Cossin for a set of structured improvisations based on motives from Ghost Opera. Show starts at 8; tickets available at the box office or online.