This year’s Ecstatic Music Festival begins Friday in New York. Highlights are below.
Sat, Jan 26, 7:30 pm
Carla Kihlstedt, ICE, Causing a Tiger & Face the Music
A New Sounds Live Presentation hosted by WNYC’s John Schaefer
Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and composer Carla Kihlstedt joins the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), “an invaluable gem within the local new-music ecosphere [that has achieved] national and global renown” (New York Times), to premiere Kihlstedt’s new ICElab commission, At Night We Walk in Circles and Are Consumed by Fire. Written for nine members of ICE plus Kihlstedt, the song cycle is based on images, impressions and textures taken from dreams from various sources, including the players themselves. Also on the bill are Kihlstedt’s band, Causing a Tiger, and teen alt-classical sensations Face the Music (called “stunning” and “a force in the New York new-music world” by the New York Times), who will join ICE in performing the legendary composer George Lewis’s Artificial Life 2007.
Sat, Feb 9, 7:30 pm
DJ /rupture & Zs
The border-crossing bass visionary and turntable artist DJ /rupture will join Zs, one of “the strongest avant-garde bands in New York” (New York Times), to perform an evening of music by each artist that blends, overlaps and extends toward the other. Zs and DJ /rupture will present alternating mini-sets, with transitional collaborative works and improvisations that connect these sets to one another, varying in form and containing elements of the surrounding “solo” material. This collaboration, which is an extension of Zs’s years-in-the-making SCORE project, brings together what VIBE Magazine calls DJ /rupture’s “stunning, globe-trotting, three-turntable mix” that “captures the spirit of the best bootleg mixes – bumping, brash, and without borders” with Zs “pornographically strict hash of avant-garde classical music, free jazz, and punk” (Pitchfork).
Wed, February 20, 7:30 pm
Deerhoof & Dal Niente with Marcos Balter
Deerhoof – labeled “the best band in the world” by Pitchfork and called “one of the most original rock bands to have come along in the last decade” by the New York Times – and the contemporary ensemble Dal Niente will collaborate on a new work for the first time after sharing a bill in Chicago’s Millennium Park last summer as part of the Wordless Music Series. The program includes a new work by Brazilian-born composer Marcos Balter for Deerhoof and Dal Niente, arrangements by Greg Saunier of Deerhoof songs for Dal Niente and a performance of works by Balter for Dal Niente. Balter’s music has been called “minutely crafted” and “utterly lovely” (Chicago Tribune) and “whimsical” and “surreal” (New York Times). The Chicago Tribune praises Balter’s “wickedly original sense of humor and a fiercely imaginative palette of instrumental and vocal sounds” and calls Dal Niente “a model of what contemporary music needs,” praising the group’s “frisky eclecticism.”
Sat, Feb 23, 7:30 pm
Laurel Halo, Julia Holter & Daniel Wohl with Transit
Composer/performers Laurel Halo, Julia Holter and Daniel Wohl join forces for a new collaborative commission, performed by all three artists along with Wohl’s TRANSIT ensemble. Halo, Holter and Wohl will also present songs and compositions with new arrangements and configurations for live instrumentalists. Paris-born composer/performer Wohl draws on his background in electronic music to create works that intimately merge electronic and acoustic elements. His distinctive hybrid format has earned him praise as one of his generation’s “imaginative and skillful creators” (New York Times) “shaping our contemporary music scene” (NPR). Holter’s take on ambient pop earned her a place on NPR’s list of Best Outer Sound Albums of 2011. Her compositions, says AlteredZones, “sound kind of like what might happen if Arthur Russel, Brian Eno, and Joni Mitchell were sent back to the 18th century to make chamber music.” “The textures and tones in [Laurel Halo’s] music seem to reflect the ever-shifting nature of phenomena and the phenomena of nature, says The Guardian. “Prepare to bliss out, and for after-shocks.”
Wed, Feb 27, 7:30 pm
Arnold Dreyblatt & Megafaun
Often characterized as one of the more rock-oriented of American minimalists, the Berlin-based composer and media artist Arnold Dreyblatt has cultivated a strong underground base of fans for his transcendental and euphoric music. The psych-folk band Megafaun will join Dreyblatt for a rare performance of works created as part of an ongoing, years-in-the-making collaboration, here taking its fullest incarnation yet. Megafaun, who will also perform a solo set, “has consistently pushed the boundaries of folk music by incorporating jazz, psychedelia and both experimental and acoustic rock” says NPR. “They tease out old ideas and combine them with new ones,” says Pitchfork, “affixing Appalachian folk to classic rock, ambient, avant garde, and a kind of musical entropy that pushes many of their songs into sputtering, oddly compelling noise.” Dreyblatt first worked with Megafaun in 2007, which resulted in an American tour performing new works that he composed expressly for the group. Recently reunited for the Hopscotch Festival in North Carolina, they recorded an album together in 2012 that will be released in the near future.
Thu, Mar 14, 7:30 pm
Bang on a Can People’s Commissioning Fund Concert
A New Sounds Live Presentation hosted by WNYC’s John Schaefer
The Bang on a Can People’s Commissioning Fund is a radical partnership between artists and audiences to commission works from adventurous composers. Since the Fund began in 1997, fans of new music have joined together to commission dozens of new pieces of music for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, making PCF one of the most anticipated and reliable launching pads for emerging composers in NYC and beyond. On March 14, the Bang on a Can All-Stars will perform world premieres of new commissions by cutting-edge multimedia composer Anna Clyne, hypnotic electronic guru Dan Deacon, Icelandic electronica minimalist Jóhann Jóhannsson and electro-acoustic experimentalist and installation artist Paula Matthusen, as well as the world premieres of avant-indie rocker Tyondai Braxton’s Trems and cross-genre composer/performer Fay Kueen Wang’s Weltinseln featuring Wang performing alongside the All-Stars.
Wed, Mar 20, 7:30 pm
Steven Mackey & Rinde Eckert with Big Farm & JACK Quartet
Longtime collaborators and recent Grammy winners Steven Mackey (composer/electric guitar) and Rinde Eckert (voice/accordion) present, for the first time, the complete set of songs from the forthcoming debut album by their band Big Farm, featuring So Percussion’s Jason Treuting on drums and Mark Haanstra on electric bass. Eckert, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama, Obie Award winner and recently-named Doris Duke Artist, will also debut a new work commissioned by the Festival for himself plus JACK Quartet, who will also present a rare performance of String Theory, an acclaimed work by Steven Mackey. JACK, which has electrified audiences worldwide with its “explosive virtuosity” (Boston Globe) and “viscerally exciting performances” (New York Times), will also join Big Farm in songs during their expansive, theatrical set.