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New Classical Power: Bang on a Can All-Stars

by Seth Colter Walls

New Classical Power: Bang on a Can All-Stars

About this playlist

The Bang on a Can All-Stars ensemble was born of necessity. Put simply, the New York-based Bang on a Can composers' collective needed a chamber music group willing and able to play music written by members. Though the group has undergone some personnel changes since its 1992 founding, the ensemble's mission has remained constant: To master and serve as advocates for the music of contemporary composers like Julia Wolfe (who claims several pieces in our attached mix, including "Reeling," "Big Beautiful Dark and Scary," and excerpts from the album-length work Steel Hammer). When listening to the group, you can expect thumping textures as well as virtuosic parts written for cello, clarinet, piano, bass, percussion and electric guitar.

Usually heard on the Bang on a Can collective's house label, Cantaloupe Music, the All-Stars were also recruited by Nonesuch Records to record Steve Reich's 2008 piece "2x5." Whether the members of the band are playing early works of minimalism — like Terry Riley's "In C" or Philip Glass' "Two Pages" — or new pieces by younger composers dear to this scene (like Tyondai Braxton and Bryce Dessner), the Bang on a Can All-Stars bring energy and power to rhythmically complex pieces of post-minimal writing. Click play to start exploring this potent group's catalog.

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