The Avant Music Festival 2016 is upon us! With events held from February 20th to March 5th, attendees can experience the full breadth of artistic expression in the uninhibited caverns of The Wild Project, at 195 E. 3rd St. in Manhattan. Since its founding in 2010 by Randy Gibson and Megan Schubert, the Avant Music Festival has fulfilled its pledge to be a "platform for contemporary American composers to experiment with long-form concerts and the full programmatic experience of their work." It is within this setting that maverick vocalist Joan La Barbara will be performing John King's "Mini-Operas" series with fellow vocalist Gelsey Bell on February 27th.
On January 19th, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts announced its 2016 award recipients. Although this year the FCA has honored a series of artists in a variety of categories and disciplines, perhaps the most prestigious of FCA's awards, the John Cage Award, was presented to composer and sound artist Joan La Barbara. The biennial award, which is accompanied by a $50,000 prize from the FCA, is awarded to visionary artists and composers who reflect the "spirit of John Cage". Joan La Barbara receives the $50,000 cash prize as per the John Cage Award 2016 for her use of extended vocal technique in both her compositions and premieres of notable works.
Russian pianist, harpsichordist, dramatic interpreter, and barrier breaker Alexei Lubimov has just become the first-ever “fellow” of the newly-formed Cage Cunningham Fellowship. As the inaugural recipient, Lubimov will receive $50,000 as the 2016 winner, and will use the money to commission new works from five composers.
While the biannual Ostrava Days in the Czech Republic features, primarily, a wide array of post-1950 solo and small ensemble pieces, it is, at its heart, a symphonic endeavor--founded and curated by Czech composer/conductor Petr Kotik. Over the course of nine expansive nights in August, running this year from the 21st to the 29th, the festival hosted three different orchestras, and all three together on the first night. The Ostrava-based Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra and resident ensemble Ostravská Banda did plenty of heavy lifting over the course of the fest, with the Miners Band from Stonava (a brass group from that nearby town in coal-mining Moravia) joining them on opening night.
Much fuss has been made over the impact of online streaming on artists' lifestyles, particularly with respect to Spotify, the streaming giant that offers free music to millions, but only pays artists the royalty equivalent of peanuts. In seeking a Spotify loophole, last year a funk band from Michigan called Vulfpeck set out on a creative mission to get around this issue with the album 'Sleepify', a 5-minute long silent album, complete with 10 tracks, 30 seconds a-piece. The loophole worked for a little while, netting the band around $20,000 before Spotify pulled the plug.
Classicalite favorites the Bang on a Can All-Stars have released their latest 13-track disc on Cantaloupe Music. One better, the record release coincides with tonight's show at the Jewish Museum.
Some contemporary composers prefer to use shapes, arrows and other visual symbols to indicate pitch, duration or volume in their music. Many of the graphic scores that result are quite beautiful and resemble works of modern art.
The 2015 Avant Music Festival has announced their lineup for four nights' worth of sonic exploration. Standout performers include Paula Matthusen, Imani Uzuri, Classicalite favorite Randy Gibson and, of course, works by John Cage.
The Merce Cunningham Trust, named after the profound choreographer of the same name, has announced two major grants to two major arts organizations: the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and the Baryshnikov Arts Center. The former will receive the first award, which will pay out $375,000, to establish and endow a Merce Cunningham Award. According to Artsforum, John Cage and Jasper Johns founded the organization in 1963. Its aim is to encourage, sponsor and promote innovative work in the arts. As of now, the MCA will be a biannual, unrestricted grant and will be given in recognition of the vast achievements in the arts in the vein and spirit of Merce Cunningham. The second gift will pay out in the sum of $250,000 to the Baryshnikov Arts Center to support, again, the establishment of the John Cage and Merce Cunningham Studio, as well as the creation of the notable Cage Cunningham Fellowship. The BAC was founded in 2005 by the world-renowned Mikhail Baryshnikov and is establishing the Cage Cunningham Fund to honor, as one would predict, Merce and John. The fund will award one $50,000 prize annually. For now, according to Roslyn Sulcas at "The New York Times," Jasper Johns said the award's first recipient will be choreographer Yvonne Rainer.
There is a never-ending interest in John Cage and his silent composition "4'33"." So while the composer may have coined an iPhone app for the piece, thus a new "Auto-Tuned" version of the composition has surfaced on the Internet. Via Disinformation, the new piece has an Auto-Tuned surface, taking the environmental sounds essential to the piece's performance to a whole new level. Aphex Twin probably would have a ball with the idea. As "C-lite" has previously said, the "silence" of the piece does not contend with the rests and caesuras from the likes of Bach, Beethoven or even the Wandelweiser Group.
As Avant Media posted to Facebook: "We handed out a bunch of Disposable cameras for our epic 8-hour performance of John Cage's Variations IV during the Avant Music Festival. We've finally gotten them developed."
If you're like me, then you've always admired the everyday struggle your favorite artists, musicians and so on endure--just like the rest of us.
If you're an artist like Bartholomäus Traubeck, slamming tree trunks onto your weighted Rega turntable isn't a foreign concept. No, it's just another installation. But is it a true ecology of sound?
That Buddhist rascal John C-A-G-E is back up and mobile once again. Don't bother with turning up the volume on your device, though. The infamous 4'33" doesn't so much touch on the musical landscape as it does a more environmental one.
With a score of 63 idiomatic pages and 84 types of semiotic infrastructure, John Cage's Solo for Piano is an alleyway seemingly too hard to navigate. Still, Cage reigns supreme among the post-WWII avant-gardists of his time. And now, Sabine Liebner takes a crack at Cage's Solo for Piano "proposal"--interpreting it in a way tailored strictly for her.