Festivals and More
- The Stone: The Stone, all month long. Why pick a single night, or even a week, when throughout March there will be residencies by Philip Johnston—the most interesting musician in the Microscopic Septet—Sylvie Courvoisier, Guy Klucevsek, Myra Melford, and, for the final two days of March and going into April, Lukas Ligeti. Melford has a new album out March 10, Snowy Egret, named after her new band, and it’s one of the finest releases of the year so far, so at least pick up a copy if you can’t make it to her gigs.
- Spectrum: The end of the month at Spectrum is full of two of the most important new music events of the year, a four day residency (March 22 - 25) with and festival of the music of English composer Michael Finnissy, and the American Festival of Microtonal Music (March 27 - 28).
- String Orchestra of Brooklyn’s STRING THEORIES FESTIVAL. From March 26 - 29 at the South Oxford Space in Fort Greene (moving to Roulette for the final night), this borough group is presenting an ambitious festival of new music, with an occasional modernist ringer thrown in. There are premieres galore, including Andrew Norman’s The Companion Guide to Rome, music from Chris Cerrone, Samuel Carl Adams, Judd Greenstein, Sofia Gubaidulina, Reiko Füting, Richard Carrick, and some dude named Beethoven.
- March 4: Synth Nights with Morton Subotnick. The best electronic music series on the New York City scene gets better with one of the giants of the genre. If anything can be called an electronic music classic, it’s Subotnick’s Silver Apples of the Moon, which will be heard in part as a mere component of a new, large-scale, multimedia performance of light and sound, with artist Lillevan.
- March 5 & 7: Tony Conrad at Issue Project Room. Two gigs from the great drone/minimalist musician and composer Conrad, both celebrating his 75th birthday—the avant-garde is that young!—and the latter a benefit for Issue Project. On the 5th, Conrad will be playing with Charlemagne Palestine at the First Unitarian Congregation, and on the 7th, he’ll be at Greene Naftali, joined by Jennifer Walshe, David Grubbs, Eli Keszler, younger brother Dan Conrad, and MV Carbon: Neb Sublette even MCs!
- March 17: Bob Ostertag Solo/Jim Staley + Ikue Mori at Roulette. Another giant. For decades, Ostertag has utterly personal territory as a composer, musician, and instrument builder (he’s a pioneer of the sampler both as a device and a performance instrument). Few people in any field have as much dedication and integrity, and he blasts some pretty damned fine sounds too.
- March 19: Interpretations Series—AACM50 at Roulette. This year marks 50 years since the founding of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Try to imagine the state of jazz and improvised music without the organization, and then imagine what it will be like to hear Muhal Richard Abrams, Thurman Barker, Leroy Jenkins, George Lewis, Roscoe Mitchell, Amina Claudine Myers, Wadada Leo Smith, and Henry Threadgill appear in the same concert. Just imagine.
- March 25: Tristan Perich and Meehan/Perkins duo at the Sky Gallery. One of the most interesting composer in contemporary music, Perich’s music seems to be gradually moving into more repetitive minimalism, and he’s working more with live musicians, while still maintaining his foundation in both code and the physical manifestation of sound. Hear his mesmerizing new piece Parallels, and see his room size drawing machine.
- March 3: The Gentleman Rests at Roulette. Dave Ruder’s ambitious The Gentleman Rests takes as its inspiration the occasion of congress’s certifying the election of George W. Bush on January 6, 2001, with vice president—and defeated presidential candidate—Al Gore presiding over the proceedings while attempting to pacify a chamber of angry Democrats protesting on his behalf. A few more small ensemble compositions by Ruder round out the bill.
- March 7: Das Audit at SculptureCenter. The year-old instrumental quartet Das Audit brings its mellow hypno-rhythms (“Phase Interference”) and free jazz counterpoint (“Chorale”) to the Long Island City venue for two sets of new material. The afternoon performance features John Anderson on percussion, Eve Essex on alto sax and flutes, Craig Kalpakjian on guitar, and Sean Keenan on bass.
- March 8: Second Sunday at Pioneer Works. The Red Hook art space and venue opens its doors for an evening of programming on the second Sunday of each month. On the docket this month are a closing reception for the group exhibition Tongue Stones—featuring a discussion with the artists—and live music from guitarist Stephane Wrembel and Banda de los Muertos.
- March 10: Heems at Santos Party House. Das Racist had already called it quits by the time I heard the hip hop group’s brilliant track “Rooftop” on a stolen mixtape compiled by 33 1/3 series author Christopher Weingarten as a companion to his dumb blog book Hipster Puppies—long story—so the closest I got to seeing the group live was to read Dapwell’s account of its Australian tour in the Rail. But now, Heems is back with a solo debut—dumbly, happily titled Eat, Pray, Thug—and celebrating the release with a show in lower Manhattan.
- March 17: Drone Mass at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, together with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble and vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, premieres two new works in the Met’s Temple of Dendur, Chaconne and Drone Mass. The latter composition is described as featuring texts “based on the Coptic Gospel of the Egyptians”—as if the title alone weren’t argument enough.
- March 26: Pierre Boulez: A 90th Birthday Celebration at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Pianist Conor Hanick honors famed composer Pierre Boulez—whom Alex Ross has dubbed “the original agitator of the postwar era”—with a midday performance in the Met’s Gallery 918. The program features two pieces by the composer, Piano Sonata No. 3, Formant 3: “Constellation-Miroir” (1955–63) and Une page d’éphéméride (2005)—together with a work each by David Fulmer and Boulez’s friend, then antagonist, John Cage. Free with museum admission.