As if there wasn't enough going on in the Berkshires last weekend, Saturday night brought the 15th edition of the Bang on a Can Summer Marathon to Mass MoCA up in North Adams. A six hour smorgasbørd of new music, the marathon is the yearly conclusion of the BOAC Summer Music Festival: a three-week fellowship for young musicians featuring masterclasses with BOAC All-Stars and composers, offering daily performances in the Mass MoCA galleries. This was my first visit back since 2012.
In between catching up with new and old friends out on the patio, I heard music by Bang on a Can co-founder David Lang, new music legends Fredereic Rzewski, Steve Reich, and Louis Andriessen, and this year's composer-in-residence, John Luther Adams. Special props go to Ken Thomson, whose violent, clamorous Boil was a commentary on our scary/real times. And the Irish composer Andrew Hamilton, whose fascinating, maddening Music for People Who Like Art featured soprano Lisa Perry singing, shouting, grunting, gasping, even (fake) vomiting her way through an impossibly difficult score. It sounded like Einstein on the Beach crossed with Ulyssees.
As in past years, there was an afterparty, though it's now been moved from the Mohawk to the American Legion behind the Holiday Inn, which had all of the charm of your parents' basement. Fortunately, Todd Reynolds was there as in year's past to stand up on the bar and offer a warm-hearted toast of congrats to all of the fellows and faculty. Pics below and on the photo page.
Lisa Perry and Ensemble following Andrew Hamilton's Music for People Who Like Art
David T. Little introducing his sweet light crudeEvan Saddler performing Andrew Hamilton's Music for People Who Like Art
David Lang following his ark luggage
John Luther Adams
David Lang at the American Legion
Todd Reynolds at the American Legion