Known worldwide as some of the best contemporary musicians, the Bang on a Can All-Stars formed in 1992 and are recognised for their ultra-dynamic live performances and recordings of today’s most innovative music. Freely crossing the boundaries between classical, jazz, rock, world and experimental music, this six-member amplified ensemble has consistently forged a distinct category-defying identity. With a massive repertoire of works written specifically for the group’s distinctive instrumentation and style of performance, the All-Stars have become a genre in their own right, and now lucky Gold Coasters have the opportunity to catch the sextet when they hit HOTA – Home of the Arts, at the end of August. Pulitzer Bang on a Can co-founder and Prize-winning composer David Lang answered a few questions for us in the lead up to the show.
Have you developed an easy, shorthand way to describe Bang On a Can to people who don’t know who you are over the years, and if so what is it?
There are a lot of categories in the music world. They are like little boxes that keep everything neat and orderly and polite – classical, rock, jazz, world, improv, ambient, etc. Everything in its proper place. We started Bang on a Can because there are a lot of composers who are pushing through the walls of their boxes, trying to get to someplace less neat, less orderly, less polite. We want to help them.
Is there any genre / style that Bang on a Can wouldn’t attempt to cover?
Anything that pushes the boundary of its genre is fair game for us. We have presented amplified flamenco music that was so rhythmically complex that it was undanceable, we’ve presented processed Siberian ritual overtone chanting, Burmese drummers with western orchestral instruments, Brian Eno’s ambient studio masterpiece MUSIC FOR AIRPORTS arranged for live musicians, etc. We haven’t had any country western music yet but that’s only a matter of time. Basically, music from any genre or culture that starts with a beat is our specialty. And if it moves between categories we are interested.
What can Gold Coast audiences expect from the show you are touring here?
The music we are bringing to the Gold Coast is rhythmic, tuneful, multi-layered, playfully edgy and a lot of fun. It is really high energy, really up. Plus music by two great Australian composers that we commissioned and have toured all over the world. We are happy to bring them back home, to share them with you.
Bang on Can will bring local premieres of their distinctive repertoire for one night only at HOTA on 30 August. Tickets at hota.com.au. IMAGE (c) Lisa Bauso