by Robert Leeper
Downtown moved uptown last Monday as the Bang on a Can All-Stars Presented the 2017 Bang on a Can People's Commissioning Fund concert. The evening kicked off BoaC’s 30th anniversary season as well the Ecstatic Music Festival to a packed house at the Kaufman Music Center.
Since it's founding in 1992 the All-Stars have grown into one of America’s premier modern music ensembles. The second generation of the group, Vicky Chow (piano), Ashley Bathgate (cello), Ken Thomson (clarinet/saxophone), David Cossin (drums), Robert Black (bass), and Derek Johnson (electric guitar) are each accomplished soloists in his or her own right, but have together to form this community dedicated to innovative music. On Monday they added works by Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Mexican-Dutch composer Juan Felipe Waller, and American composer Nico Muhly, to the growing multimedia project Field Recordings—which instructs composers to go into the field of recorded sound and respond with their own music.
In true Bang on a Can style, the event was event was eclectic and informal: a presentation of new music as well as an opportunity for the night’s emcee, WNYC’s John Schaefer, to chat with the composers about their work. The performances and talks are to be used on Mr. Schaefer’s New Sounds program.