New Music Feed

Kelly Moran at Roulette

The prepared piano - where a pianist places screws, forks and other foreign objects on the piano strings to create strange, eerie timbres - has long had a place in the world of contemporary classical music, notably in the avant-garde music of John Cage and George Crumb. Pianist and composer Kelly Moran was pursuing that same path, collaborating with prepared piano veterans like Margaret Leng Tan and releasing several albums of increasing complexity and rigor, culminating in 2017's Bloodroot, named by the NY Times as one of the year's best classical recordings.

But, before long, Moran found herself at an impasse which left her "banging her head against the wall." Not long after, she had what she describes as "her Eureka moment": 

“I was squatted down in the forest, listening to the sounds of the wind and the wildlife, and all the echoes surrounding me. I asked myself: How can I make music that feels like this: natural, connected, and effortless? So I went back to my piano, hit record, and went into this trance-like state where I improvised for several hours nonstop...When I listened back to the recordings, I felt like the music that I had produced that day felt really unbridled and joyous." 

Since then, Moran has reimagined the prepared piano as an instrument of ecstatic possibilities, enhanced by electronics and a less rigid, more improvised approach to performance. Specifically, Moran feeds her piano into MIDI software and a sampling keyboard, allowing her to electronically manipulate the recordings and play them back as complex, new sounds. 

Along the way, Moran was enlisted by Oneohtrix Point Never (a.k.a. Daniel Lopatin) to play keyboards in his touring band. That ultimately led to her signing by Lopatin's label Warp Records (also home to Aphex Twin, Brian Eno and Squarepusher, among others) which has resulted in two releases so far: November's Ultraviolet and the more recent EP Origin

On Monday 5/20, Moran performed at Roulette, completing her Van Lier artist-in-residence fellowship that began in March 2018 (prior to her joining Warp). The first half of the program consisted of music from Bloodroot and Origin, which was gentle and slowly evolving, like Erik Satie crossed with Terry Riley's ecstatic improvisations, with elements of wind chimes and Balinese gamelan. The electronic elements were subtle, subjugated to the prepared piano; Moran, in a flowing white dress complementing her long blond tresses, was the clear focus, lit by a simple spotlight. 

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2019 NYC Summer Music Preview

Celebrate Brooklyn 2018 It's up in the mid-80's today in NYC, which has got me thinking about my favorite time of year: summer, when all sorts of amazing music heads outdoors. In addition to some of our old faves - Celebrate Brooklyn, Summerstage, Warm Up - there are some exciting new additions this summer, such as Industry City's new Summer Series. Sadly, there are also several casualties this year, including Williamsburg's Northside Festival and Panorama. R.I.P.

Below are some highlights; check out our Summertime list on the right for updates throughout the summer. 

Celebrate Brooklyn: (June 4-August 10) My personal favorite of all the free NYC music festivals - and not just because it's walking distance from my apartment - Celebrate Brooklyn returns to the Prospect Park bandshell for it's 41st season with an eclectic lineup including R&B, Latin, indie, and roots music, most of it free. Highlights include a blockbuster opening night with Patti LaBelle (6/4), a double bill with Liz Phair and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (6/29), bluegrass supergroup I'm With Her (Aiofe O'Donovan, Sarah Jarosz, and Sara Watkins, 7/18) and Canadian stalwarts Broken Social Scene (7/25). Benefit shows include The National with Courtney Barnett (6/12&13), Father John Misty with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (6/19) and Mac DeMarco (8/6).

SummerStage (June 1-September 24): SummerStage gets a facelift this summer with a (long overdue) $5.5 million renovation to Rumsey Playfield, including a new stage, sound system, lighting and raised bleacher seating. Lineup includes Durand Jones and the Invitations (who we caught twice at SXSW in March, 6/1) Parquet Courts (6/8), Big Freedia (6/13) and Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison with Brandee Younger (6/15).

Rite of Music Summer Festival (June 1 - Sept. 7) Governor's Ball has long since outgrown it's original home on Governor's Island, but you can still take the ferry to see live music once a month this summer with this free new music festival, now in it's 9th year. Performers include Ensemble Connect (6/1), Sandbox Percussion (7/6), Go: Organic Orchestra and Brooklyn Raga Massive (8/10), and Sirius Quartet (9/7); performances take place at 1 and 3pm. 

Met Opera Summer Recital Series (June 10-19): It's not the same as when they used to do full operas in the parks, but if you want the Met experience on the cheap, go check out one of these free recitals, which take place in all five boroughs. Among the top flight singers are Ying Fang, Nathan Gunn, Leah Hawkins, and Joseph Lim.

NY Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks (June 11-16): Music Director Jaap van Zweden is sticking around this summer to lead the parks concerts in all five boroughs, with a program including Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 and Copland's "Hoe-Down" from Rodeo. Followed by fireworks, of course.

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Hypercube at the DiMenna Center

Hybercube DiMenna Center - 1 (1)(Photo: Michael Yu)

Sometimes, when I look through all of the new music listings in NYC, it's honestly hard to tell one group from the next. And, with most of the music on the program being, well, new, it's hard to know what to expect, unless they're playing something by Reich, Glass, Wolfe, or some other well-known composer of an older generation. 

But, Hypercube, who performed last Tuesday night at the DiMenna Center, piqued my interest. And, telling from the packed house, that of many others as well (including familiar faces like Elliott Sharp and Tristan Perich.) Part of what interested me was the NYC-based quartet's unusual lineup of saxophone (Erin Rogers), electric guitar (Jay Sorce), accordion/piano/synth (Andrea Lodge) and percussion (Chris Graham). 

Hypercube (named after a geometric shape) performed in the round, switching sides every so often to give everyone a good view. They started with Rogers' own composition, Casino (Remix), which sounded like some sort of Hunter S. Thompson nightmare, with Rogers' tenor sax mimicking the intoxicating chorus of slot machines while Sorce's guitar screeched like someone had set off the fire alarm. 

Nicholas Deyoe's they solidify then tilt veered between atmospheric and anxious, inspired by Alison Carter's poem in which she tries to make out the contents of her bedroom in the dark. Sorce played his guitar with partially open strings, creating a tense, glissandi-filled sound.

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Ticket Giveaway: HYPERCUBE at the DiMenna Center on May 7

Hypercube
NYC-based new music ensemble HYPERCUBE has built a reputation for high-energy performances using the somewhat unusual combination of instruments: saxophone, acoustic/electric guitar, piano/accordion, and percussion. Next Tuesday, May 7, they'll be at the DiMenna Center with a program including the U.S. premiere of Eric Wubbels' major new work Voided Cross (for Michael Heizer), they solidify then tilt by Nicholas Deyoe, and Erin Rogers' (who also plays saxophone in the group) Casino (Remix) . Tickets are $10 and available here
 
We have two pairs of tickets to give away! Here's how to enter:

1. Email Pete@feastofmusic.com with your name and preferred date  -OR-

2. Retweet our post with the hashtag #freetickets   

Good luck!