Between 9-10th May 2015 The National’s Bryce Dessner will curate a weekend of music with a focus on the emerging American arts scene, featuring new music and multi-arts performances inspired by the landscape of the USA. The weekend which takes place at various London venues: Barbican Hall, Milton Court Concert Hall, and St. Giles will include the world premiere of Wave Movements, a new orchestral work composed by Dessner and Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) for string orchestra and film taking inspiration from the different wave cycles of the world’s oceans. It will be performed by Britten Sinfonia and feature seascape visuals by photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto – the music and images will work in tandem to recreate the feeling of staring out at the ocean.
Whilst best known as the writer and guitarist for The National Dessner’s reputation as also established a reputations as one of the best composers of new music in America. The first releases of his contemporary classical compositions were recorded by the legendary Kronos Quartet in 2013 and released as Kronos Quartet Plays Music By Bryce Dessner – Aheym (see video below).
There will also feature the European premiere of Sufjan Steven’s Round-Up – a musical and cinematic portrait of the classic American rodeo tradition. The performance is accompanied by slow-motion footage shot by sibling filmmakers Aaron and Alex Craig.
Another highlight is the European premiere of Black Mountain Songs: The Brooklyn Youth Chorus perform alongside Bryce Dessner, Richard Reed Parry, Caroline Shaw and Ning Yu. A work inspired by the legendary Black Mountain college in North Carolina which closed in 1957. Despite its rural location and small budget it managed to make a significant and ‘lasting influence on the postwar American art scene, high culture, and eventually pop culture.’ Its allumni include musician John Cage and dancer Merce Cunningham.
Poetry influenced by the work of Black Mountain professor, Charles Olson is put to music composed by Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, Caroline Shaw, Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Tim Hecker, John King and Aleksandra Vrebalov alongside projections and dance, to create an expansive choral and visual work that celebrates and rekindles Black Mountain’s utopian spirit.
This session will also include a performance – in Terry Riley’s 80th birthday year – of his legendary and pioneering In C (read our article here), led by eighth blackbird and featuring performers Bryce Dessner, Richard Reed Parry, Nico Muhly and more from across the Mountains and Waves weekend.
Mountains and Waves – 9-10th May 2015
Mountains and Waves: Session One
eighth blackbird and Yarn/wire perform new works by Bryce Dessner and Sufjan Stevens
9 May 15 / 14:00 / Milton Court Concert Hall
Mountains and Waves: Session Two
James McVinnie plays pieces by Nico Muhly and Philip Glass
9 May 15 / 17:00 / St Giles, Cripplegate
Mountains and Waves: Session Three
The Brooklyn Youth Chorus and eighth blackbird perform works by Bryce Dessner and Terry Riley
9 May 15 / 19:30 / Hall
Mountains and Waves: Session Four
So Percussion and Tim Hecker
10 May 15 / 14:00 / Milton Court Concert Hall
Mountains and Waves: Session Five
10 May 15 / 17:00 / St Giles, Cripplegate
Mountains and Waves: Session Six
Britten Sinfonia and So Percussion perform works by Bryce Dessner, Richard Reed Parry and Steve Reich
10 May 15 / 19:30 / Hall