The Big City

”The more susbtantial an individual’s aesthetic experience is, the sounder his taste, the sharper his moral focus, the freer—though not necessarily the happier—he is.."

The second Bang on a Can Marathon of the COVID-19 era hits the the ground this afternoon, 3pm-9pm EST. You can view it via this link or with the embedded stream below:

Viewing is free, but as always if you can, please help out the musicians and Bang on a Can by buying a ticket (it amounts to a donation for the cause). Bang on a Can is donating 10% of today’s ticket revenue to the Equal Justice Initiative. Hourly schedule (approximate) follows at the bottom of this post.

And in what I hope is good news, live jazz has returned to the Village Vanguard. This weekend the club has started a live-streaming schedule, Saturday nights at 7 and Sunday matinées at 2. Tickets to the streaming portal are $7. Most promising is that the Vanguard is presenting ensembles—Billy Hart’s Quartet this weekend, with Mark Turner, Ethan Iverson, and Ben Street—which at the very least indicates these musicians are healthy and hints at the possibilities of just how many musicians might be allowed on stage when phase four of New York State’s reopening arrives here in the city, which right now looks to be, maybe, sometime in September at the earliest (though if there are more scenes like this one from St. Mark’s Place in the East Village the evening of June 12 then we’re not getting to phase four until there’s a vaccine. Culture is not going to survive humanity.).

The one caveat to all this is that the live-streaming experience for the past few months has mostly been piss-poor—even without the often mediocre technical quality, snafus, and the fact that listeners are limited by the quality of their sound reproduction equipment, music played in isolation for isolated audiences is just that, isolating, alienating, cold. I’m hoping the Vanguard experience is different, and the Bang on a Can lineup has some performers who might be able to shine in the solo, isolated environment, Iva Bittová and Nik Bärtsch. Give it a try, and donate if you can.


  • Rhiannon Giddens
  • Helena Tulve’s Without love atoms would stop spinning (world premiere) performed by Arlen Hlusko
  • Aaron Garcia’s disconnect. (world premiere) performed by Ken Thomson
  • Shara Nova – New Work (world premiere)


  • Alvin Curran’s Shofar Rags XXL
  • Ted Hearne’s Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job
  • Žibuoklė Martinaitytė’s Abyssal Zone (world premiere) performed by Robert Black
  • Nik Bӓrtsch


  • Iva Bittová
  • Roscoe Mitchell
  • Paula Matthusen’s of an implacable subtraction performed by Dana Jessen
  • Tomeka Reid’s Lamenting G.F., A.A., B.T., T.M. (world premiere) performed by Vicky Chow
  • Nico Muhly


  • Susanna Hancock’s EVERYTHING IN BLOOM (world premiere) performed by Nick Photinos
  • Don Byron
  • Ailie Robertson – New Work (world premiere) performed by Gregg August
  • Tim Brady’s At Sergio’s Request (world premiere)


  • Judd Greenstein’s In Teaching Others We Teach Ourselves performed by Nadia Sirota
  • Pamela Z
  • Alex Weiser’s Music from ‘and all the days were purple’ performed by Eliza Bagg
  • Kendall Williams – New Work (world premiere) performed by David Cossin


  • Carla Kihlstedt – New Work (world premiere)
  • Frederic Rzewski’s “Which side are you on?” performed by Conrad Tao
  • Leila Adu – New Work (world premiere) performed by Mark Stewart
  • Terry Riley

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