CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: April 4, 2001
A YEAR AFTER THE MILLENNIUM (FESTIVAL)
Bang on Can works were Iowa contribution to Olympic
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "And the gold medal goes to . .
. the Bang On A Can All-Stars and the Australian Chamber Orchestra for bringing
new American music to the Sydney Olympic Festival," announced Australia's
New Music Box publication. "The two ensembles collaborated on . . . 'Hard
Times,' by British composer Steve Martland; 'Game Over,' by the young Australian
Brett Dean; and 'Haircut,' jointly composed by Bang On A Can's artistic directors,
Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe. All three pieces were jointly
commissioned by the ensembles, and were given world premieres last April at
the University of Iowa."
To be specific, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and
New York's barrier-breaking Bang on a Can All-Stars -- featuring UI alumni
David Lang and Steven Schick -- premiered Iowa's contribution to the Olympic
Festival on an April 8, 2000, concert that was part of Hancher Auditorium's
season-spanning Millennium Festival.
The September performance at the Olympic Festival
in Sydney was recorded by Broadcast ABC Classic FM, Australia's national classical
music network, and was broadcast in December.
Critic David Paul Jobling, writing in Q Stage Digest
the day after the Australian premieres, called the concert "Music that makes
you giggle when it intends on doing so -- but it's no good for stuffed shirts
who are expecting something placid, tame and directly tuneful who wouldn't
be seen dead giggling in the Concert Hall of the Opera House (just isn't done).
. . .
"Lots of people ran away during the evening. . . .
(who) didn't get what they thought they were going to get maybe, but I enjoyed
this evening's entertainment very very much. The skill and timing involved
in creating music like this -- ambient, fun, vocal . . . a great phrase that
was piped in at one point -- 'Television is furniture' was a delightful reminder
of . . . how mundane life could be if everything was as seamless as television.
Certainly not for everyone, but I thought it was great."
Of course, the Australians were especially interested
in the new piece by their countryman, Brett Dean. Announcing the composition
as "commissioned jointly by Olympic Arts Festival and Iowa's Hancher Auditorium,"
the official "Sydney Games" website of the Olympics explained, "Sir Simon
Rattle, Richard Tognetti and Markus Stenz have all championed the work of
Dean, who earlier this year resigned his position as violist with the Berlin
Philharmonic, and has since resettled in Australia to concentrate on composition.
"'Game Over' premiered in April at the University
of Iowa and is Dean's 17-minute response to what he describes as the vacuous
cult of television."
Dean wrote about his piece, " 'Game Over' is about
the real emptiness that lies smirking behind the facade of Day-Glo, prime-time
the realisation that instant wealth isn't an answer anyway. Originally produced
as part of an electronic sound installation entitled 'hundreds and thousands'
for the millennium celebrations in Berlin, 'Game Over,' with its seven instrumental
soloists, chamber orchestra, sampler and multi-track sound design, has evolved
into a live tone poem of unrealisable desires for a flailing generation."
Dean's Hancher-premiered work also had an impact on
the other side of the world, winning honorable mention in Musica Nova 2000,
the International Electroacoustic Music Competition sponsored by the Society
for Electroacoustic Music of the Czech Republic.
Lang, Gordon and Wolfe founded Bang on a Can in the
late 1980s as a renegade New York street festival, presented in locations
and with attitudes that could not be mistaken for the conventional concert
setting and decorum. "For me, one of the unpleasant things about most concerts
is that you feel oppressed by millions of rules of etiquette that have nothing
to do with the music," says Lang, a graduate of the UI School of Music. "We
wanted people to be very comfortable, as if they were sitting in their living
room with their friends."
The festival, which blithely disregarded conventional
musical and ideological boundaries, soon became New York's most important
annual showcase for contemporary composition, mixing academic serialists and
minimalists with ethnic music, rock and jazz in an atmosphere of cheerful
anarchy. Eventually, the festival invaded the bastion of New York high culture,
The Bang on a Can All-Stars ensemble eventually brought
together Lang and another graduate of the UI School of Music, virtuoso percussionist
Steven Shick, who was for several years a mainstay of the UI Center for New
Music before taking his career to Europe.
Hancher's Bang on a Can commissioning was made possible
with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Hancher's season-spanning Millennium Festival was
America's most extensive and ambitious performing-arts millennium celebration,
featuring more than 20 major commissions in music, theater and dance. In addition
to the Bang on a Can commissions, new works were created by artists including
theater visionary Robert Lepage; choreographers Twyla Tharp, Ushio Amagatsu,
Bill T. Jones, UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch, Susan Marshall, Paul Taylor, and
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; and composers Richard Danielpour, Michael Daugherty
and Paul Schoenfield.
Performances of the commissioned works have involved prominent
ensembles including American Ballet Theatre, Twyla Tharp Dance, the Bill
T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Kronos Quartet, the Alvin Ailey American
Dance Theatre, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Sankai Juku, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson
Trio, the Ahn Trio and the Ethos Percussion Group.
For UI arts information, visit this new address --
www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa -- on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by
e-mail, contact <email@example.com>.
Trace Iowa's commissions in Sydney at<http://www.artscope.net/NEWS/new0952000-1.html>,
<http://olympics.smh.com.au/specials/arts/dance1.html> and <http://www.newmusicbox.org/news/oct00/bangonacan.html>.