Bang on a Can

OK, new topic. We all have daydreams about what we’ll do when we win the lottery. I’m putting mine on my blog as I come across them.

Today, for example, I received a very nice invitation from the folks at Bang on a Can, the new music concern in NYC. They’re having a fundraiser in conjunction with Bob Hurwitz of Nonesuch Records, on Tuesday, April 19, 2005, and I thought, why not? They’ve done some interesting things in the past, although frankly much of it is earsplitting, but hey, I’m always ready to be intrigued, and since money is no object now that I’ve won the lottery, let’s do it.

So I figure we’ll do it up right: a $10,000 Bang Benefactor donation, which entitles me to a 10-person table for drinks, dinner, and the concert, plus luxury accomodations, meals, and tickets to the BOAC Marathon in the Berkshires this summer, plus season-long recognition as a sponsor, plus four tickets to the BOAC All-Stars concert on April 29. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

This is assuming I can find nine other people who would like to attend with me. Perhaps I could put an ad in the Times-Herald:

Wanted: Adventurous persons who can stand new music, to accompany local aesthete to dinner and a show. Apply at P.O. Box 1039C.

I keep buying CDs of new music, trying to keep up, seeing if concert music is making any progress in reclaiming the human ear after losing it so disastrously with that soulless sojourn into serialism in the middle of last century. So far, it’s pretty hit or miss. Any one of the pieces I’ve heard that have been written since 1980, say, can be interesting in itself, but when you start lining them up and comparing them, most of them are much alike. Too much brass, too many broad leaps in the “melody,” too many 2nds and tone clusters in the harmony. As they cycle through the iPod, I find them impossible to identify, just so many angst-ridden tone poems.

And what are we to make of John Corigliano’s comment [pdf interview] that the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for music, awarded to Paul Moravec’s Tempest Fantasy, startled him because of its sunny nature? “I’ve never in my life ever seen a Pulitzer Prize go to a piece that is effervescent, not for the last 40 years,” he mused. Apparently recognizing that the overwhelming tone of much new music is tortured, he adds, “I think that it’s very important for us to have that rich experience in art and not to think of art in this romantic twisted view that art is only about anguish and angst. It isn’t. The best works of art of the 18th century were often comedies.”

Still, some new music can be exhilarating, and my official position is that people should keep writing it, because eventually some of it is going to work. It’s like when eminent musicolologist Prof. Peter Schickele refers to the “lesser but nevertheless competent composers that dotted the musical landscape of the Age of Enlightenment” in his lectures on P.D.Q. Bach: I think it takes all the ballast of less competent work to produce the geniuses of Bach (P.D.Q. and otherwise) or Mozart.

So, buy the $10,000 ticket, I say, and support new music.

This thing is taking place below Houston St., so clearly we’d need to stay at the Soho Grand, which is a really cool hotel. My treat. Since it’s on a Tuesday night, we’d have to fly in that day and back out the next morning so that people wouldn’t have to miss that much work. Not me, of course. I won the lottery and don’t have to worry about such things.

2 thoughts on “Bang on a Can

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Why haven’t Wierd Al’s works been given the consideration they deserve? Why does Oscar so often snub great films like “Wierd Science”? Let’s keep it real: The only difference between many of the films that DO win (read: Titanic) and the likes of these is that these are aware of what they actually are. And speaking of banging on cans, I have heard a guy with a 5 gallon plastic bucket on a New Orleans street corner produce more honest original music than most anything you can hear on the radio these days. I miss Miles Davis.

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