Contemporary music in Atlanta – Sonic Palooza

Atlanta’s Woodruff Arts Center presented Sonic Palooza yesterday, June 25th, a 10 hour free festival of contemporary music that went on until midnight.

I spent an hour or so over in the galleria and caught the first program; Steve Reich, David Lang, Tristan Perich and Philip Glass. All compositions were performed by Sonic Generator & Friends, a Georgia Tech ensemble in residence founded in 2006.

My little Canon caught some rough clips of the performances, of which I’ll include truncated versions below.

David Lang – Press Release, perfomed by Ted Gurch.

Steve Reich – Nagoya Marimbas, performed by Tom Sherwood and Charles Settle.

Tristan Perich- A/B/C/D, performed by Jessica Peek Sherwood.

My favorite was the piano piece by Philip Glass- Mad Rush, performed by Tim Whitehead.

And Glass himself plays the same piece from the television production Two Moon July (1986). A friend took me to see him play a lengthy composition at Emory in the early 1980’s, and I recall being impressed with his stamina.

A first for Atlanta, this marathon should raise the profile for the composers and young musicians in the area who play contemporary music. The turnout at the event’s 2 pm start time was fairly good; about 50 rapt people (and kids) in the audience.

San Francisco has a strong audience for new music, thanks to Michael Tilson Thomas, the SF Symphony’s brilliant Director. He presented his second edition of American Mavericks in the summer of 1997, a year after I had moved to the city. I remember being blown away by Steven Mackey’s guitar and Lou Harrison’s piano; his 80th birthday was celebrated during that program.  Tilson’s inaugural marathon was repeated in 2000, albeit in a shorter program.

My friend, music and WSJ’s cultural critic Steve Dollar, had tickets courtesy of his pal Tom Welsh at New Albion Records, a longtime label out of San Francisco that promoted new contemporary music. Welsh has gone on to be Music Director of the Cleveland Symphony, and Foster Reed moved to upstate NY a few years ago.

Here’s hoping that Atlanta’s music lovers will support efforts to bring innovative and exciting new works of music to the city.

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2 Responses to Contemporary music in Atlanta – Sonic Palooza

  1. Terry says:

    Thanks so much. You and your little Canon did a nice job.

  2. V says:

    Thanks Terry. I hope someone with a better camera/audio covered the event!

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