Will Call Episode #58: Bang on a Can, Story Slam & DownStreet Art
Spirit and Song tie both this episode and much of the creative community.
This is Will Call, #58—I’m your host, Jason Velazquez, and I thank you for tuning in. This episode is sponsored by the Williamstown Theatre Festival, which presents the brand new musical, “A Legendary Romance,” August 3rd through the 20th on the Main Stage. Tickets available at wtfestival.org.
I don’t always know what thread that runs through each episode will be when I start planning, but by the time I start weaving together story, song, images, and information, the pattern always emerges.
Art and Soul
This week, the magnifying power of community on creative expression revealed itself as our theme. We speak with Rev. Mark Longhurst of the First Congregational Church of Williamstown both about the seasonal “Art and Soul” series of sermons going on now, as well as the upcoming Story Slam taking place at the Clark Art Institute. “Art & Soul” examines the intriguing intersection of creativity and spirit. This week, Mark recommends taking in the July 26th appearance of Anna & Elizabeth at the Hancock Shaker Village in preparation for his sermon, “Spirit and Song” which will feature local favorite performing and recording duo, Long Journey. In between, Mark emcees an annual Story Slam taking place at the Clark Art Institute, who’s theme of Nature fits divinely with two Helen Frankenthaler exhibits now on view at the Clark.
We also connected with Philippa Thompson via Skype in this episode to catch up with Bang on a Can, whose summer festival is going on now at MASS MoCA. Philippa describes how new interactions among an international collection of musicians breathe life and innovation into a curious species of musical organization now in its 30th year.
Finally we welcome back one the Greylock Glass’ oldest friends, Michelle Daly. She also spoke via Skype to give us an overview of this year’s DownStreet Art celebration, and talks a little bit about her new role as director of the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
First though, let’s get in the spirit of things with a bit of song—From Anna & Elizabeth’s self-titled 2015 release, here is “Poor Pilgrim of Sorrow” right now on Will Call.
That was another one, “Troubles,” from Anna & Elizabeth’s debut album. Anna & Elizabeth are playing Wednesday, July 26, at the Hancock Shaker Village as part of the Barn Music Summer Series, which launched this year. Rev. Longhurst discusses the work of Anna & Elizabeth and other artists in “Spirit and Song,” the next installment of the “Art and Soul” series of summer sermons exploring the creative landscape of the Berkshires through Scripture. Service begins Sunday at 10 a.m. All are welcome. The Story Slam happens at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown Friday, July 28th at 7:00 p.m. The event is free, and would make a great pairing with the Helen Frankenthaler, open to members and the public at regular admission prices.
Bang on a Can
Now, on to discussion of a music event which is not new, but is, in fact, like a familiar bird that makes its home ever so briefly at MASS MoCA each Summer. Our guest is Philippa Thompson, program manager for Bang on a Can, who gives us an inside look into some of what makes this celebration of new composition so enduring.
16Th Annual Bang On A Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA
July 19 – August 5, 2017
• Daily Recitals in the Galleries at 4:30pm including
Ghanian Drumming, Latin Music, and much more
• The Bang on a Can All-Stars preview ROAD TRIP by
Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe
• Mark Stewart and festival fellows perform on hundreds
of spectacular original instruments of Gunnar
• World Premiere Composer Concert – Over 40 young
composers and performers from around the world
debut nine new works written especially for the festival.
• A tribute concert to Pauline Oliveros
• Music from Central Asia – musicians from Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan
• Festival fellows perform Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 3
• Concert celebrating guest composer George Lewis
• Concert celebrating guest composer Louis Andriessen
• 6-hour Bang on a Can Marathon featuring music by Steve Reich, Louis Andriessen, Jeffrey Brooks,
Michael Gordon, David Lang, Vanessa Lann, György Ligeti, Nicole Lizée, Julia Wolfe and more
An astounding diversity of musical perspectives and geographic origins adds texture through powerful collaborations, such as that between Australian composer Kate Moore and Bang on a Can All-Stars cellist Ashley Bathgate. The two met in 2009 and have worked together on various projects including Moore’s debut with Cantalope Music and 2016’s Stories for Ocean Shells, to which this song, “Velvet,” belongs.
And that was “Thorn,” composed by David Lang and performed by Molly Barth. Check the shownotes for information about where to go to make the music you hear on this episode your very own. You can also find links to Bang on a Can and MASS MoCA which has a full slate of events lined up for the entire season.
Well THIS season would certainly not be complete unless we checked in with Michelle Daly of the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center at MCLA. DownStreet Art is among the region’s premier events and just about the best excuse to shut down Downtown for a few hours.
I feel like we barely tread couple yards of all the ground I wished I could cover with Michelle. Alas! But, as always, links to DownStreet Art and the BCRC are in the shownotes, so you can explore on your own. Just don’t forget to find your way to downtown North Adams this Thursday.
Well, I don’t always time it this well, but it looks like we do, in fact, have a little space here at the end of the episode to play a song we haven’t featured on any of our shows yet, and that’s “Rescue Me,” by Long Journey, the beloved Berkshires duo comprised of Karl Mullen and Amrita Lash. They’ll be providing some of the “song” portion of the “Spirit and Song” community worship service this Sunday at the First Congregational Church in Williamstown.
Again I want to thank our sponsor for this episode, The Williamstown Theatre Festival, and encourage all of our listeners who are as crazy about musicals as we are to make haste to wtfestival.org to pick up tickets for A Legendary Romance, playing on the Main Stage August 3rd through August 20th. That’s our show for the week, I’ve been your host, Jason Velazquez, and I hope you’ll join me again for another episode of Will Call.