Rather paradoxically, “new” and experimental classical music is as much about the past as it is about the present. By its very nature, creating art that is avant-garde now demands an intimate understanding of what was avant-garde then. The aptly named Avant Music Festival–now in its third year in New York City, co-curated by composer Randy Gibson and soprano Megan Schubert, is keenly aware of this.
The Avant Music Festival 2012 at Wild Project (195 East 3rd Street) in Manhattan’s East Village, which began on February 10 and continues through February 18, celebrates experimental composition pioneer John Cage’s 100th birthday and the centennial of Arnold Schoenberg’s seminal Sprechstimme masterpiece Pierrot Lunaire alongside world premieres by Jenny Olivia Johnson and Gibson.
Fittingly, Gibson himself studied under another experimental music progenitor, La Monte Young, whose influence can be heard in his works …The Second Pillar… and …The Third Pillar…, both of which see their world premieres during the festival and utilize classical Indian music and sine waves.
The annual festival is presented by Avant Media, an artist collective begun in 1999 by Gibson and choreographer/videographer Ann Baer-Carrillo. Since then, the group has consistently produced multimedia works combining live music, videography,and visual art installations.
The 2012 festival’s remaining concerts include Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire paired with Johnson’s An After School Vespers: 4 Songs on Youth/Sex/Death. An After School Vespers on Wednesday, February 15, an evening of music by Eve Beglarian on Friday, February 17, and Gibson’s …The Third Pillar… on Saturday, February 18. Featured performers include pianist Vicky Chow, Megan Schubert, The Pierrot Project, and others. For more information on these events, visit here.