The Bang on a Can Marathon Reviewed

Bang on a Can All-Stars
Cover of Bang on a Can All-Stars


The event is still hands-on for the three Bang on a Can founders — Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe — who run the organization’s sprawling new-music advocacy operations and traded off M.C. duties on Sunday. As the decades roll by, the marathon remains inspiringly rangy, a mix of old and young composers, ensembles and listeners. (A healthy sprinkling of audience members raised hands when Mr. Lang asked who had been at the first marathon, in 1987.) All in all, it’s an irresistible show, whatever the quality of the music. And with Sunday’s consistently excellent performances, it was possible to judge that music on its own terms. So Percussion lavished its talents on Bryce Dessner’s intensely pretty, utterly inert “Music for Wood and Strings.” The ensemble Contemporaneous attacked, with passion, the syrupy, listless lyricism of selections from Jherek Bischoff’s “Cistern.”