London revelations

Second way that the UK might be ahead of the US:

I’ve known for a while that this orchestra has mastered social media, in ways that most orchestras haven’t. For one example of their wonderfully personal approach, see this post from their tour blog. 

But what really knocked me out was their embrace of the music I call alt-classical. During my visit, I went to a concert curated by Gabriel Prokofiev, maybe the leading alt-classical figure in London, a composer, DJ, and creator of a record label and club night called Nonclassical. The LSO presented an evening he curated, “Nonclassical Directions,” as part of its LSO St. Luke’s series. Music for cello and loudspeakers (played by my friend Peter Gregson), music for electric guitars, music for a percussionist playing found objects. A relaxed crowd, some people sitting at tables, with Prokofiev (the grandson, incredibly, of the famous composer) DJing between pieces. 

New Yorkers — just imagine the New York Philharmonic presenting an evening curated by Bang on a Can, or New Amsterdam records (which, a few years ago, presented Gabriel Prokofiev in a Nonclassical night at Le Poisson Rouge). Wouldn’t happen. 
The week before I visited, the LSO and the Barbican presented a giant weekend, featuring six concerts, running over two days, from 11 AM into the evening. The title? “Reverberations: Steve Reich and His Successors.” The full program was absolutely staggering — go here to see it. Or here, here, or here for other looks at what went on. Bang on a Can and eighth blackbird played, along with So Percussion, the Kronos Quartet, and Theatre of Voices. And others. Music by Reich, the Bang on a Can composers, Louis Andriessen, Missy Mazzoli, Scott Johnson, Anna Clynes, Tyondai Braxton, and more. The Bang on a Can version of Brian Eno’s Music for Airports. The press reported that 5000 people were there. 
Imagine, again, the New York Philharmonic presenting the Bang on a Can marathon. Or this Reich and successors program. Not happening. 
I’ve blogged about the new audience for classical music — and especially new classical music — in New York. For instance, here. London seems to have the same new audience, and I get the idea it might be bigger than New York’s. 

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  1. MWnyc says

    New Yorkers — just imagine the New York Philharmonic presenting an evening curated by Bang on a Can, or New Amsterdam records … Wouldn’t happen.

    You mean it wouldn’t happen under Lorin Maazel or any of his predecessors. (Boulez? His invitation to curate wouldn’t have gone to Bang on a Can.)

    Under Alan Gilbert, I can very easily imagine it happening. (After all, Greg, three years ago you might easily have written this: “Imagine the New York Philharmonic putting on Ligeti’s Grand Macabre. Not happening.” But it did. And they sold out Avery Fisher Hall.)

    Under Alan Gilbert, any NY Philharmonic reluctance to do a Reich-and-his-progeny festival like the one the LSO did would probably be practical. (For instance, the NY Phil doesn’t own any space like LSO St. Luke’s, and the Phil may not have extra budget money to rent a smaller hall and hire so many different guest ensembles.)

    Come to think of it, though, if the Phil and Carnegie Hall (which has three performance spaces) wanted to collaborate on a festival like that …