Courtesy of the artist
Members of the JACK Quartet.
Members of the JACK Quartet. Courtesy of the artist
Based in New York City, Q2 is a 24/7 online music station dedicated to living composers, and to providing a 360-degree view of the city's frenetic contemporary music scene. Collaborating with some of most progressive venues in town, Q2 regularly presents a broad range of dynamic, forward-thinking live concerts.
These five performances show New York at its best: from the jazz-influenced sounds of Theo Bleckmann to the electronic samples of Matmos and the hardcore avant-gardism of the JACK Quartet. Each show featured here has done its part to shape NYC's diverse musical culture. With much difficulty, Q2 selected five of the best from the past year, all recorded live at that Greenwich Village hot spot, (Le) Poisson Rouge.
(Q2's Yuki Numata is a violinist who performs in and around New York.)
The Best New York Alt-Classical Concerts Of 2010
JACK Quartet and ICE
As a send-off to their appearances in Darmstadt, Germany, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and the JACK Quartet perform works by Earl Brown, Caleb Burhans, Jason Eckhardt and Yoshiaki Onishi in this June 29 performance. Formed from the loyal camaraderie of their college days, these explosive ensembles have taken the new music community by storm with countless critically acclaimed performances. (Set List: Earl Brown: Tracking Pierrot; Caleb Burhans: Contritus; Jason Eckhardt: 16; Yoshiaki Onishi: Culs-de-Sac.)
So Percussion and Matmos
Although they hail from opposite coasts, the San Francisco-based duo Matmos and Brooklyn-based quartet So Percussion have collaborated frequently. Both groups are dominating forces in experimental electronic and classical music, and have reputations for incorporating ingenious new sounds into unified works. To celebrate their collaborative album, Treasure State, they took the stage on June 8, proving that uninhibited creativity can go a long way while making music -- and that even cactus needles can be used as evocative instruments. (Set List: Needles, Music for Pieces of Wood, Treasure, Rainbow, Extremes, Water, Mike in Philly, Xed Out, Hi-Hat Piece, Flame, Aluminum.)
Versatility is the key when it comes to career longevity in New York's thriving musical scene. Vocalist and composer Theo Bleckmann has more than enough to go around. From his work with Meredith Monk and Laurie Anderson to his solo recordings, Bleckmann has established himself as one of the important creators of new music in New York. In this Sept. 22 performance, Bleckmann presents his latest project, Hello Earth! The Music of Kate Bush. Not intended to be a mere re-creation of the British star's songbook, Hello Earth! is an opportunity for the multi-talented Bleckmann to experiment with the infinite interpretive possibilities available, and to put his own creative stamp on the songs, which include "Running Up That Hill," "Under the Ice" and "Love and Anger."
Alarm Will Sound
The progressive 20-piece chamber band Alarm Will Sound, led by Alan Pierson, is made up of many accomplished musicians who also perform double-duty as composers and arrangers. This concert, from Feb. 23, features the music of singer, multi-instrumentalist and ensemble member Caleb Burhans. Opening with Burhans on his own performing two solo piano pieces, the show comes to a thunderous close with the entire group joining forces on stage. (Set List: In Time of Desperation, A Moment in Rothko Chapel, Walk Through the Valley of Dead Flowers, As Desperation Sets In, Amidst Neptune, Iceman Stole the Sun, O Ye of Little Faith)
American Contemporary Music Ensemble
In this concert from March 14, The American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) presents a dual composer portrait of two giants of post-minimalist contemporary music: Kevin Volans and John Luther Adams. Though each composer has a sound distinct from his contemporaries, both have found significant inspiration in the natural world and their environments. South African rhythms and timbres run rampant in Volans' two string quartets, and the vastness of the Alaskan landscape is clearly at play in Adams' music. (Set List: Adams: The Farthest Place; Volans: White Man Sleeps; Shiva dances; Adams: In a Treeless Place, Only Snow)