Sunday, February 26, 2012

American Mavericks Trans-Continental series & AV Festival across the UK: Mar 1 - 31

With very little going on in this town the past couple months music-wise of note (of anything! for that matter), the trawl has expanded outward to the larger West and East Coast cities... and as far off as the United Kingdom. And good thing! As March sees a cross-continental showcase of all the major modern composer players to call the United States their home as the American Mavericks series over the course of the month, with it's beginnings in San Francisco and it's end destination at New York's Carnegie Hall. As a retrospective of Contemporary American Composers, this series is exactly what such a should be! (minus maybe the Aaron Copland and the John Adams, but yeah, that's a matter of personal taste). What we get as 'American Mavericks' at the San Francisco Symphony lacks only in the Electronic works of some of these very composers and their contemporaries, but it's a rare, rare event that any symphony hosts the Electronic and/or Electroacoustic works of this era. Nonetheless, most-all the major US players are included on the bill; From Morton Feldman, to John Cage, to Steve Reich, to Charles Ives, to Henry Cowell, to Terry Riley, to Edgard Varese alongside World Premiers by Meredith Monk, Morton Subotnick and Mason Bates - as the series stops in Chicago, before heading to NYC, where there's also an array of auxiliary events at Carnegie Hall featuring works by Lou Harrison, Conlon Nancarrow, William Basinksi and So Percussion with Matmos in a night of music dedicated to John Cage.
No big surprise to see that Alex Ross of "The Rest is Noise" has weighed-in on the subject: "The major musical event of the winter/spring season, by my lights, is the San Francisco Symphony's transcontinental American Mavericks Festival which begins at home on March 8, stops in Ann Arbor and Chicago, and ends at Carnegie Hall on March 30.” In addition to four richly stocked SFS programs - who could say no to an evening of Ruggles's Sun-Treader, Feldman's Piano and Orchestra, and Henry Brant's metamorphic orchestration of the Concord Sonata? - Carnegie has assembled a neat array of auxiliary events, including a So Percussion Cage tribute, an Alarm Will Sound show, a night with the indie bands WHY? and Danielson, a program of William Basinski and Tristan Perich, a JACK Quartet adventure and a recital by Lisa Moore."

The other big event caught in the trans-global trawl for any sonic arts festivals is a MASSIVE one. And if there weren't already plans to be on the East Coast and in Japan in the course of this year, I'm pretty certain where I'd be spending my third month of 2012. As this: is exactly how one curates a 'International Festival of Art, Technology, Music and Film' with the theme "As Slow As Possible". AV Festival presenting works by most-all the major names of the global 'Slow Cinema' movement, both past and present, including Andrei Tarkovsky, Bela Tarr, Pedro Costa, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Carlos Reygadas, Jia Zhang-ke, Alexander Sokurov, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Cristi Puiu, Abbas Kiarostami, Sivaroj Kongsakul, James Benning, Sharon Lockhart as well as a series of lectures and in-person screenings over the course of the 'Slow Cinema Weekend' with Lav Diaz, Lisandro Alonso, Ben Rivers & Fred Kelemen.
Crushingly brilliant enough for you? Well there's more, as AV is that rare occasion of a festival having the curatorial expertise to draw the precise parallels that cinema and current global music scenes, such as The Caretaker, a solo night of the music and ethnographic documentaries of Phil Niblock, a celebration of John Cage's 100th birthday with World premieres of "A Cage of Stars" composed by Phill Niblock and "The Lament of John Cage" by Yoshi Wada, performances by Zoviet France, and Hanne Darboven's "Requiem" as well as A night of music, cinema, visual art and a lecture dedicated to Peter Christopherson, a 'Sleep Concert' by Steven Stapleton aka Nurse With Wound and more varied interpretations on the theme by Mayhem's Attila Csihar, a night of sonic explorations by Ikue Mori & Maja Ratkje and lastly, Leif Inge's ultimate 'slow' experience, the 24hr Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Whew! And that doesn't even begin to touch on the performance art, exhibitions, walks, lecture series, installations and the 24 Hour Launch! A festival, as they're NEVER, NEVER, ALMOST-NEVER realized across many disciplines, with all the exacting curatorial selection of names/scope of forms/styles to encompass the global culture of shared theme. As of this weekend, why am I even still sitting here at a cafe on this continent anyway? And no, that's not a rhetorical question.