American Mavericks Fest Duke Ellington, Frank Zappa, John Cage Featured In American Mavericks Fest
Feb 17, 2000, 11:10 am PT
In Europe, the classical musical tradition is a measured by standing on the shoulders of previous generations. In America, it's a matter of breaking the mold. Or so the San Francisco Symphony is claiming in its upcoming festival entitled American Mavericks, running in San Francisco June 7-24.
Two of the strains that make up much of American music come together on opening night June 7, when music director Michael Tilson Thomas and pianist Alan Feinberg bring together the music of New Englander Charles Ives, who drew freely from popular songs, and West Coast iconoclast Henry Cowell, who looked to traditions from Latin America and Asia long before it became fashionable. Along with additional works by Milton Babbitt, John Cage, and Morton Feldman, Tilson Thomas will conduct an audience-participation performance of Terry Riley's In C, a seminal minimalist piece that has no length or number of musicians.
American vocal music and song tradition gets the once over on June 8 with Lukas Foss' category-bending Time Cycle and Meredith Monk's distinctive vocal language in excerpts from her opera Atlas. The concert also includes the Andante for Strings by Ruth Crawford Seeger (stepmother of folk singer Peter Seeger).
Other mavericks featured include Duke Ellington in a tribute led by Jon Faddis (June 10), and George Antheil, the self-described "Bad Boy of Music" whose pieces like Ballet Méchanique scandalized Paris in the 1920s with their surrealist depiction of chaos (June 11). Bay Area composer Lou Harrison, the elder statesman of the West Coast school, is showcased in an evening of his Asian-influenced works including his Suite for Violin and American Gamelan and Symphony No. 3 (June 15). And minimalist composer Steve Reich is featured with his own ensemble in Music for 18 Musicians and Hindenburg, his multimedia collaboration with video artist Beryl Korot (June 17 and 18).
Also appearing in this American Mavericks festival is the New World Symphony, the Miami-based youth orchestra formed by Tilson Thomas more than a decade ago as a post-graduate training program for conservatory students. Featured on the New World's June 20 program is the West Coast premiere of Steven Mackey's electric guitar concerto Tuck and Roll (which the New World premieres in Miami this April).
The New World Symphony returns the next night led by Bay Area composer John Adams in his own works Shaker Loops and Grand Pianola Music, along with pieces by Colin Nancarrow and rock iconoclast cum classical composer Frank Zappa.
Tickets and information are available online at www.sfsymphony.org or beginning March 13 festival info is available at American Mavericks
-- Ken Smith