Brilliant musicians and composers inhabit the MASS MoCA campus from July 12 – July 28 for three rollicking weeks of innovative, unexpected, and ear-expanding music.
Three decades ago, composers Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe noticed something missing in the universe of music: a zone between rock, jazz, classical, and folk where new forms of musical expression could find new audiences and new players. A composer combining electric guitar, exuberant percussion, and classical instrumentation needed a place to collaborate with a musician experimenting with minimal beats and Appalachian fiddling. So they invented a new world of music, and called it Bang on a Can.
When Bang on a Can was searching for a place to roll out their own summer festival, they wanted to draw connections between groundbreaking music and groundbreaking art; they knew their listeners were perhaps more likely to emerge from Chelsea art galleries than from a conventional symphony hall, and would perhaps be more at home at a rock music festival than a traditional opera house. For most of the month of July, for 17 years now, Bang on a Can has been expanding their world of music on the MASS MoCA campus—presenting dozens of concerts in our courtyards and galleries, and on our stages. Sometimes elaborately staged, sometimes raw and vividly improvisational, the music is always powerful and fresh (and frequently impossible to describe).
The annual festival includes daily performances in the museum galleries (free with museum admission), a concert with the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and concludes with a six-hour blow-out Marathon Concert performed by the festival ensembles and special guests. The festival also features workshops, late-night concerts, free events in North Adams, and more. This year features special festival guest composer Steve Reich.
The best way to Bang is with a MASS MoCA membership, which offers free gallery admission and $5 concert tickets.
This program is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Photo by Caleb Blansett