"Running Endlessly" premieres at the Bang on a Can Festival
Twenty-four years later, "Bang on a Can," the scrappy New York City festival of "downtown" music, has made it to the top of the new-sounds heap. Prove that to yourself by going to MassMoCA July 30, where, after 10 years of summer residence teaching and performing in North Adams, Mass., the ensemble will perform a marathon from 4 to 10 p.m., ranging through goodness-knows-what contemporary works. (www.massmoca.org)
Based on past marathon selections, most of the pieces will have been vetted and judged likeable, interesting or both. Composers have to start somewhere, however, and Monday afternoon the festival's junior division had a workshop of seven premieres. It was supposed to last an hour, but after an hour and three quarters in the dark with no intermission, the piece called "Running Endlessly" won my vote for best title.
This year's fellows hail from around the world, but the piece I liked was by David T. Little from New Jersey, who looks like Josh Gad from the Book of Mormon musical. The inspiration of his "haunted topography," with repeated piano chords, long somber string lines and sky-high xylophone ticks, was learning about a mother whose son was killed in Vietnam. She was still waiting to find out where --hoping someone would give her a map. It was the workshop's final premiere, I'm glad I stayed for it, and I hope chamber ensembles will give it another shot.