A new concert-length work for 2 pianists and 2 percussionists; an immersive environment for a uniquely intimate, multisensory series of four portrait concerts over two nights at Columbia University's legendary new-music mecca!
Columbia University's iconic Miller Theatre presents the next installment of their Portrait concerts on May 11 and 12, with a new 90-minute world premiere, called Material, for two pianos and two percussionists, performed by New York City's Yarn/Wire. With design and direction by Jim Findlay, Gordon brings the audience onto the stage with the ensemble for four concerts over two days. With all of his music over the past 30+ years, Gordon has never attempted something quite like this: a new piece that treats space and movement as an essential element of the composition, as vital as sound and time.
Lang's score for Youth represents the compositions written by the film's protaganist (a classical composer and conductor toward the end of his career) and most importantly his Simple Song #3, an integral and recurring musical and cinematic theme. The music is performed by soprano Sumi Jo, violinist Viktoria Mullova, the BBC Concert Orchestra, and the Berlin Radio Choir. Additionally, Lang's just (after song of songs) written for and performed by Trio Mediaeval and the Garth Knox Trio receives a prominent placement in the film.
Youth — written and directed by Sorrentino, whose film The Great Beauty won the 2013 Oscar for best foreign language film — stars Academy Award-winner Michael Caine as Fred and Academy Award-nominee Harvey Keitel as Mick. The film explores the lifelong bond between two friends vacationing in a luxury Swiss Alps lodge as they ponder retirement. While Fred has no plans to resume his musical career despite the urging of his daughter (played by Academy Award-winner Rachel Weisz), Mick is intent on finishing a screenplay in what may be his last important film for his muse Brenda (Academy Award-winner Jane Fonda).
Lang and Sorrentino first worked together when the director used Lang's music in The Great Beauty. A frequent collaborator in film, art, theater, and dance, Lang contributed all the arrangements for The Kronos Quartet for the landmark film Requiem for a Dream and scored the Emmy Award-winning documentary The Woodmans and the film (Untitled).
The recording of Anthracite Fields on Cantaloupe Music was nominated for a 2016 Grammy award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.
"My aim with Anthracite Fields is to honor the people who persevered and endured in the Pennsylvania Anthracite coal region during a time when the industry fueled the nation, and to reveal a bit about who we are as American workers." — Julia Wolfe
Steel Hammer is inspired by my love for the legends and music of Appalachia. The text is culled from the over 200 versions of the John Henry ballad. The various versions, based on hearsay, recollection, and tall tales, explore the subject of human vs. machine in this quintessential American legend. Many of the facts are unclear – some say he’s from West Virginia – some say he’s from South Carolina – some say he’s from New Jersey... But regardless of the details, John Henry, wielding a steel hammer, faces the onslaught of the industrial age as his super human strength is challenged in a contest to out dig an engine. I drew upon the extreme variations of the story, fragmenting and weaving the contradictory versions of the ballad that have circulated since the late 1800s in to a new whole - at times meditating on single words or phrases – in order to tell the story of the story - to embody the simultaneous diverse paths it traveled.
The sounds of Appalachia have long been a part of my musical consciousness. (My first public music performance was on mountain dulcimer). I have referenced the folk music influence in many of my other works - Four Marys (for string quartet) and Cruel Sister (for string orchestra) take folk tales as the inspiration for the music. LAD (for 9 bagpipes), and Accordion Love (accordion concerto) explore and experiment with folk performance traditions. In Steel Hammer, I’m calling on the Bang on a Can All-Stars to expand out from their usual instrumentation to include the likes of dulcimers and bones, and accessing Trio Mediæval’s extensive work in their native vocal traditions. — Julia Wolfe