Festivus For The Rest Of Us

Did you think the holidays were over? Hardly! They are just beginning, and if you are one who especially suffers through Christmas and New Year’s Eve, then there’s a lot to look forward to via three music festivals this winter and spring in New York City:

Ecstatic Music Festival: Curated by composer Judd Greenstein, this is a multi-event festival that offers an in-depth survey of what is happening, almost literally in the now, among the leading composers and artists of this generation. It starts off with a free (FREE!) marathon on January 17, and the continues through more than a dozen additional concerts through the end of March, all at the Kaufman Center (Merkin Hall for us old farts). Tickets are not only reasonably priced but get cheaper the more you buy. Along with the marathon, I would especially recommend Craig Wedren and Jefferson Friedman’s On In Love , with ACME; Alarm Will Sound; the evening of new music with William Brittelle, Caleb Burhans and Merrill Garbus; the tremendous double bill of Newspeak and Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society; Nadia Sirota, Doveman and Owen Pallett; Sarah Kirkland Sinder; and the closing concert with So Percussion and some of the leading “downtown” improvisers.

“Tune-In” Festival: Curated by eighth blackbird and held at the Park Avenue Armory, this is four days of concentrated contemporary music and some important and powerful works that spawned it. There is a world premiere created by Paul Haas, Paul Fowler and Bora Yoon; two nights of music that explores opposing ideas of political and absolute expression in music, including Fred Rzewski’s stunning Coming Together, Music for 18 Musicians, older works from Bach, Kurt Schwitters and Georg Friedrich Haas and new pieces from David Little and Matt Marks; and the concluding NYC premiere of John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit. Brilliant programming.

Tully Scope: Equally brilliant programming. Opening February 22 and closing March 18, this is an array of music that is guaranteed to prove that the new, the experimental and the avant-garde are merely extended points on a continuum of music and history that includes masterpieces that are centuries old. All music is new at some point, and the artists involved – ICE, Axiom, Emanuel Ax, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Les Arts Florissants, Simon Keenlyside, Jordi Savall and others – will make all of this repertoire immediate and living. That repertoire includes C.P.E. Bach, Rameau, Schubert, Lizst, Xenakis, Morton Feldman, John Adams, Tyondai Braxton, concluding with an night devoted to the important theater composer Heiner Goebbels. There’s a good deal on tickets too. It’s like listening to WKCR, but live.

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