The Barbican's 2014 marathon weekend in 2014 celebrates Nonesuch Records in the label's 50th anniversary year, May 17 and 18, 2014. Entitled Explorations: The Sound of Nonesuch Records, this curated weekend of events includes five London concerts taking place in LSO St Luke's, Guildhall School's new Milton Court Concert Hall (daytime sessions), and the Barbican Hall (evening sessions).
Featured among the weekend's events are performances by artists including Jonny Greenwood, Kronos Quartet, Brad Mehldau, Timo Andres, Sam Amidon, Natalie Merchant, Rhiannon Giddens, Olivia Chaney, and others performing works by Greenwood, Mehldau, Andres, Steve Reich, John Adams, Philip Glass, Frederic Rzewski, Henryk Górecki, Donnacha Dennehy, and more.
SESSION ONE - Crash Ensemble with Gavin Friday, Kronos Quartet, NOW Ensemble
Saturday 17 May 2014 / 13:00, LSO St Luke’s
Session one sees three pioneering ensembles presenting minimalist classics and new chamber music, including the Kronos Quartet performing Steve Reich’s piece for string quartet and tape Different Trains (1988) and Donnacha Dennehy's One Hundred Goodbyes; Crash Ensemble presenting Philip Glass’s Beckett-inspired Company (1984), John Adams’s Shaker Loops (1978) and Frederic Rzewski’s Coming Together—featuring Gavin Friday, former frontman of seminal post-punk band Virgin Prunes; and chamber group NOW Ensemble introducing music by young, post-minimalist American composers.
Saturday 17 May / 19:00, Barbican Hall
Session two explores areas where contemporary music, jazz and leftfield rock meet and includes two European premieres: Weaving together treatments of five songs from Brian Eno's classic '70s recordings, Timo Andres’s Paraphrase (European premiere) is performed by Britten Sinfonia (with the composer playing the piano part himself) conducted by Clark Rundell, alongside Steve Reich’s recent instrumental Radio Rewrite—a reimagining of two of Radiohead’s songs: "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" and "Everything in Its Right Place." Brad Mehldau performs his Variations on a Melancholy Theme (European premiere)—which he says sounds "as if Brahms woke up one day and had the blues"—while Kronos Quartet pays tribute to one of minimalism’s founding fathers, Terry Riley.
Sunday 18 May / 11:00, Milton Court Concert Hall
Session three features contemporary piano music performed by some of the most virtuosic young players around: Steve Reich’s Piano Phase and John Adams’s Hallelujah Junction—both pieces are works for two pianos—are performed by New York–based pianist and composer Timo Andres—who enchanted critics and audiences with his inspired performance of Philip Glass’s Piano Etudes in his London debut at the Barbican last year—and David Kaplan. Piano pieces from Andres’s 2010 Nonesuch debut, Shy and Mighty, also get a spin, while Brad Mehldau introduces an exclusive solo improvisation from the stage.
SESSION FOUR - Crash Ensemble, Kronos Quartet, Sam Amidon, Natalie Merchant & more....
Sunday 18 May / 14:00, Milton Court Concert Hall
Session four includes new arrangements of traditional folk song and new collaborations: The first half of the concert features Crash Ensemble who are joined by singer Iarla O’Lionaird performing Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy’s Grá agus Bás, which is featured on the 2011 album of the same name and which was inspired by a number of traditional sean-nós songs. In the second half of the concert Kronos Quartet joins forces with four of the most celebrated roots artists within the Nonesuch family for a world premiere collaboration: Sam Amidon, Natalie Merchant, Rhiannon Giddens, and Olivia Chaney. Delving deep into the American folk songbook, each soloist will sing all new arrangements of old folk songs, commissioned and performed by Kronos Quartet.
Sunday 18 May / 19:30, Barbican Hall
Session five sees Radiohead guitarist and former BBC Concert Orchestra Composer in Residence Jonny Greenwood perform Steve Reich’s legendary piece for electric guitar and tape, Electric Counterpoint. He will also play ondes martenot with the BBC Concert Orchestra under conductor André de Ridder for his own score from the Oscar-winning film There Will Be Blood. The program also features Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 (with soprano Jessica Rivera), also known as Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, which is recognized as one of the most affecting and spellbinding works of the late 20th century. Inspired by stories of children separated from their families during World War II, the piece premiered in 1977, and—since its release by Nonesuch in 1992—it has become one of the biggest classical music sellers of all time.
EXPLORATIONS: THE SOUND OF NONESUCH RECORDS – SATELLITE EVENTS
KRONOS AT 40
A one-of-a-kind 40th-anniversary celebration featuring new music by Philip Glass, Bryce Dessner and more
Tuesday 13 May 2014 / 20:00, Barbican Hall
Kronos Quartet continues its tradition of storied Barbican appearances in this one-of-a-kind 40th-anniversary celebration. The evening features commissioned works by favorite composers and collaborators from throughout Kronos's history, including a UK premiere by Philip Glass and a world premiere by Bryce Dessner (guitarist of The National), plus works to be announced. Kronos is joined onstage by Dessner.
Bach Goldberg Variations and Ligeti Études
Saturday 24 May 2014 / 19:30, LSO St Luke's
Jeremy Denk is one of today's most insightful pianists and in addition to being a compelling performer, his writing on music has been praised by Alex Ross for its "arresting sensitivity and wit." In 2012, Denk was awarded a MacArthur Foundation award, popularly known as the MacArthur "genius grant." In a typically thought-provoking program, Denk precedes Bach’s Goldberg Variations with a selection of études by Ligeti. Denk writes: "Both Ligeti's Études and Bach's Goldbergs are about finding infinite possibility from a simple, single premise—following an idea to its utmost consequences. Ligeti's trips to infinity tend to end in disintegration, so that the first half of the program is about the thrill and allure of chaos, the dangerous ride, the impossibility of control. In the second half, Bach rebuilds the world that Ligeti has torn apart."
Before the concert, at 5:30 PM, Denk introduces a screening of the DVD video liner notes that accompany his recent release of the work on Nonesuch.
Explorations: The Sound of Nonesuch Records tickets are now on sale. For tickets, visit barbican.org.uk.