The Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra presents the American premieres of two recent works based on ancient themes. The Bulls of Bashan, a violin concerto by British composer Gavin Bryars, is heard along with Bang on a Can co-founder Julia Wolfe’s Cruel Sister, based on the British ballad and folk tale of the same name. (1 hr. 15 min.)
WHAT IS IT? In this ever-fascinating series, director John Kennedy takes us straight onto the cutting-edge of contemporary music. We’ll get four stimulating late-afternoon programs.
WHY SEE IT? Music keeps evolving, and in more new directions than most of us can keep track of. Trust Mr. Kennedy to winnow out the best of it. This time ’round, we’ll get works ranging from a violin concerto by Gavin Bryars to “oral histories” (with instruments) from Phillip Bimstein. In between, we’ll hear Michael Harrison’s shimmering music for “just-intonation piano” and a premiere performance by Yumiko Tanaka: a virtuoso of the shamisen, a traditional Japanese stringed instrument. Tanaka is in town to provide accompaniment for Basil Twist’s Dogugaeshi, a puppet show that uses a matrix of slides instead of puppets.
WHO SHOULD GO? Any musical person with open ears and an adventurous spirit should really enjoy these concerts. Folks who get lost (or disgruntled) if there’s no tune they can whistle may want to stay away, though how do you know you won’t like it if you haven’t heard it? (Lindsay Koob)