Bang on a Can All-Stars rock the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam

October 22nd 2018 at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam. Bang on a Can All-Stars let the Muziekgebouw vibrate on her foundation. Their gig came within the framework of Cello Biennale. Not exactly a cello ensemble, but of course with star cellist Ashley Bathgate , BOAC were invited to perform. Ken Thompson, clarinet player and ringmaster this evening said:"I felt a bit out of place with my clarinet cases among all these cellos."
On to the programme. The All-Stars kicked off with a BOAC classic: David Lang's cheating, lying, stealing. Very impressive, for me the first time hearing the designated ensemble playing this rhythmic masterpiece. And setting the tone for the rest of the gig.
A piece by the second BOAC founder followed: Light is calling by Michael Gordon. Being a composition for cello and tape (and video) it fitted perfect into the Cello Biennale frame. A serene playing cellist Ashley Bathgate, dressed in a glitter jumpsuit, was the center of attention. Playing long notes layered over pulsating electronic sounds.

Ashley Bathgate

Ken Thompson told:"Many composers have written really interesting cello parts and soloistic cello parts. And the next piece from one of the composers-in-residence here and also one of our three artistic directors, that is Julia Wolfe, certainly does that and has the cello do more than just play the cello. As you will see. Once again featuring Ashley Bathgate on 'Beleiving' by Julia Wolfe."the A highly dynamic composition with the cello being one of the main instruments and with some live vocals by the instrumentalists incorporated. Working towards an impressive crescendo.
A piece by the only non-American composer followed. BOAC played Lesson 25 - time by young Dutchman and Gaudeamus 2017 laureate Aart Strootman. The ensemble playing this more tranquil compostion accompagnied by a taped voice time and again telling the same time in several variants. Michael, Julia as well as Aart appeared on stage after their piece was performed.

Composer Julia Wolfe flanked by Mark Stewart and Ashley Bathgate

The concert was closed by three compositions from the earlier stage of their Field Recording project. Ken Thompson said:"In the early twentieth century people wandered around and recorded blues musicians. And that became part of the conversation about music and art. Our composers did the same. You are going to hear a track and you are going to hear us working with the track. And that is all created by these composers":

  • Steve Reich - The Cave of Machpelah
  • Julia Wolfe - Reeling
  • Anna Clyne - A Wonderful Day

David Cossin

Ken Thompson again:"This composer is also a cellist.So it is a cellist composer. Her name is Anna Clyne. She is a fantastic composer from our side of the pond. And this a piece that she did; her track was that she was the composer-in-residence at the Chicago Symphony for a couple of years at a very young age. And every day when she was going to her studio she passed this homeless person by the name of Willie Barbee and asked 'Willie, can I record you and can I use it for a piece?' So they in some way collaborated on this piece together. So, the voice you are going to hear is that voice of Willie Barbee." And with that last field recording, with the streetsinging of Chicago local Willie Barbee with background traffic sounds, this impressive concert by the All-Stars was truly a memorable and wonderful day.