Though you wouldn't know it except for a few perfunctory blurbs in the local press, there is a landmark music event taking place in New York this weekend. For more than four years, composer Karlheinz Stockhausen labored daily on KLANG ("Sound"): a series of acoustic and electronic chamber works intended to be performed over the course of a single day. Unfortunately, Stockhausen died unexpectedly in 2007, having completed only 21 of the planned 24 sections.
To date, the only section of KLANG most New Yorkers have had the chance to experience live is Cosmic Pulses (13th hour), which was performed at Issue Project Room in 2011. (A subsequent performance at the White Light Festival in 2012 was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.) At the world premiere in Rome in 2007, I knew I had experienced something extraordinary:
"With speakers placed all around the hall, the experience was alternately trancelike and intense to the point of maddening... At the end, we all gave Stockhausen a raucous ovation, and mobbed his soundboard in the center of the hall. I was one of those who approached, telling him that I hoped he would bring this music to America sometime soon.
"I hope so too," he said, a bit haltingly.
Enter the Metropolitan Museum, whose director of concerts and lectures, Limor Tomer, has chosen to present all 21 sections of KLANG between tonight and tomorrow. In order to accomplish this massive undertaking - which is being co-produced by Joe Drew's Analog Arts and includes nearly two dozen U.S. and N.Y. premieres - performances will take place simultaneously across all three Met buildings: the Met Museum, The Cloisters, and the new Met Breuer on Madison Ave (formerly the Whitney). Admission to all performances is free with museum admission.
Although some sections - such as Cosmic Pulses and Heaven's Door (4th hour) - will be given multiple performances, it won't be physically possible for one person to experience all 21 sections of KLANG this weekend. (Full schedule available here.) Still, I plan to get around to as much as I can over the next two days; check back here and @feastofmusic for updates.