Ecstatic Music Festival Features Diverse Programming and Collaborative Performances
By Leonard Bopp, Contributing Writer, April 12, 2018
Kaufman Music Center’s Ecstatic Music Festival, now in its eighth year, presents collaborative performances from a broad, diverse range of musical groups.
As Kaufman Music Center Executive Director Lydia Kontos notes, “since Kaufman Music Center launched the pioneering Ecstatic Music Festival seven years ago, it’s been growing by leaps and bounds – both in audience numbers and in the diversity of its sonic offerings.”
Over the course of this season’s festival, the performances feature such impressive artists as Kronos Quartet, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Margaret Leng Tan, Glasser, Xenia Rubinos, Mantra Percussion, Mahogany L. Browne, Carla Kihlstedt, Patrick Zimmerli, Ethan Iverson, Buke & Gase’s Arone Dyer, among many others.
In three April concerts, the festival presents a similarly diverse range of programming, with each concert crossing traditional boundaries of genre, time, and explorations into the avant-garde.
The first of these concerts celebrates, in part, the release of a new album by saxophonist Patrick Zimmerli titled Clockworks, billed as a musical meditation on time, in all forms. Zimmereli is joined by electronics composer Jeremy Flower, percussionist John Hollenbeck, composer and avant-garde jazz pianist Ethan Iverson, composer/violinist Carla Kihlstedt and bassist Christopher Tordini.
Clockworks is followed with the world premiere of Songs of Mourning, a collaborative effort by all these artists about sorrow in all forms; personal to political. This performance takes place on Saturday, April 14 at 8:30pm.
On Thursday, April 19 at 7:30pm, the festival welcomes the group ModernMedieval, a trio of women vocalists including members of Anonymous 4 and Roomful of Teeth. They are joined by composer-performer Julianna Barwick for an evening that takes early music into a thrillingly modern sonic world. This concert will feature the premeries of new works by Barwick, Caleb Burhans, and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw.
The 2018 Ecstatic Music Festival concludes with an exploration of the avant-garde, featuring the visionary pianist Margaret Leng Tan. Tan celebrates the legacy of George Crumb, with compositions by Kelly Moran and Rome Prize winner Suzanne Farrin. In addition, Tan presents the word premiere of Metamorphoses, a new work by George Crumb written for amplified piano, toy piano, percussion, and voice. The piece features video projections by Monica Duncan and the concert date is Thursday, April 26 at 7:30pm.
These concerts, like the entire festival, demonstrate the festival’s commitment to foster collaboration among artists of different genres and disciplines. As festival curator, composer Judd Greenstein, says, “The Ecstatic Music Festival creates opportunities for artists to build new musical languages together through the process of collaboration.”
For Greenstein, this collaboration is emblematic of a social, political, and artistic ideal. “Artists not only learn to transcend their differences, but to create work that would have been impossible without it. In a time when dialogue across difference of all kinds is more important than ever, the festival provides an exciting opportunity for audiences to witness that kind of interaction in real time.”
Indeed, this year’s festival builds on the wonderful legacy of thrilling, innovative, genre-crossing performance that have defined the festival since its inception.
More information on Kaufman Music Center’s Ecstatic Music Festival can be found here.
Cover photo: Ethan Iverson; photo: courtesy of Kaufman Music Center.