Wednesday night was Secret Society's actual CMJ showcase night, a co-production between our label, New Amsterdam Records, and Cantaloupe Music, which is of course part of the Bang on a Can empire. The evening began with a lovely piece of solo piano music (Wed) by last year's Pulitzer Prize winner, David Lang, played with heartfelt grace by Ning Yu. Our New Amsterdam compatriots NOW Ensemble followed, with a mix of NOW staples like Judd Greenstein's Sing Along and some new works, including pretty sweet pieces by John Altieri (Not Yet) and Joshua Penman (The Whisper Gallery). The group was coming off a mini-tour, having played shows in DC and Baltimore on previous nights, and sounded very strong -- as tight as I've ever heard heard them, in fact.
The multi-talented Matthew Welch followed with Julia Wolfe's Lad, a piece for nine bagpipes -- or, in this version, eight prerecorded bagpipes and a lone live piper. It's a long slow burn full of densely microtonal glisses, and just at the point where we reach total sonic saturation, a keening folklike melody finally rises through the murk. The piece clearly divided the audience (partly due to sheer volume -- it was loud) but I absolutely loved it. It was kind of a punkrock move, even.
Interspersed between all of these performances were clips from (untitled), Jonathan Parker's new romantic comedy about a beautiful and fashionable Chelsea gallery owner (Marley Shelton) who falls for a nebbishy, self-obsessed new music composer (Adam Goldberg) -- David Lang contributed the music. The film opened in NY this weekend, to mixed reviews. I am torn: on the one hand, I am congenitally allergic to romantic comedies; on the other, David Lang has offered to "personally buy a cup of coffee for anyone who can identify every single real-life musician who appears on screen."
As for our set, it was recorded by WQXR's Q2 and should be streaming there before too long, so if you missed it, you'll be able to judge for yourself (watch this space). Again, a massive shout-out to sound engineers Justin Balch and LPR's own Matthew Duane. Also: these CMJ showcases always involve a frantic dash to get set up and get playing as quickly as possible after the previous group finishes, and the LPR crew did a frankly astonishing job of getting the stage reconfigured for myself and my 18 co-conspirators in what is surely record time.
PREVIOUSLY:CMJ Day Zero
CMJ Day One
MORE:CMJ Day Three
CMJ Day Four
CMJ Day Five