Vicky Chow, Piano
World Premiere Video and Conversation
March 7, 2021 | 3pm EDT
On March 7, we present the video premiere of Bang on a Can All-Star Vicky Chow’s performance of Michael Gordon’s Sonatra as a Watch Party. The program will include a Q & A about the work with Chow and Gordon, moderated by Ethan Iverson, also a pianist, composer, and critic best known for his work with the Bad Plus. Aside from Chow’s album release of the work (released February 23, 2018 on Cantaloupe Music – get it here!), this new video made by Denver-based director, writer, and cinematographer Souki Mehdaoui, is the only other recording of the piece.
“It’s by far the most challenging piece of music I’ve worked on,” says Vicky. “When I first looked at the score, I knew immediately that I’ll live with it for the rest of my life. Every few months, I slowly worked up each section, like chipping away at a slab of marble. I had to pace myself, push myself, and be sharp at every twist and turn, or else I’d trip and fall flat on my face.”
The Watch Party will include demonstrations of the work’s difficulty by way of brief excerpts performed by Chow in her home, alongside a display of the score.
In his original program notes for Sonatra, Michael Gordon writes that he conceived of the piece for solo piano as a sideways tribute to Frank Sinatra, but with the sonata form as an equal and opposite force that tugs at the music from within.
“I grew up playing, or mis-playing, the piano,” he notes. “When I started writing Sonatra, I decided that since I would probably only ever write one piano piece in my entire life, I wanted to use all the keys on the piano, and use them often. I constructed long chains or links of major and minor thirds that ceaselessly wind their way up and down the piano. Eventually they start cascading and intersperse with glissandos half the length of the keyboard, sounding to me like the performer has at least four hands.”
An excerpt from Sonatra for an early performance at Roulette:
This performance is a continuation of Bang on a Can’s online offerings during the pandemic shutdown. On our three six-hour live online Marathons so far this year (May 3, June 14, and August 16), Bang on a Can has presented over 100 performances including 23 new commissions and dozens of composers and performers. The Marathons feature interviews with the composers in between each performance, offering insights into their music, work, and life during this time.
Bang on a Can is grateful for the support of these crucial 2020-21 Funders:
Bang on a Can’s 2020-21 programs are made possible with generous lead support from: Amphion Foundation, ASCAP and ASCAP Foundation, Atlantic Records, Daniel Baldini, Stephen A. Block, Bishop Fund, Jeffrey Calman, Charina Endowment Fund, City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, Exploring the Arts, Howard Gilman Foundation, Jaffe Family Foundation,, Alan Kifferstein & Joan Finkelstein, Michael Kushner, Leslie Lassiter, Herb Leventer, MAP Fund, Raulee Marcus, MASS MoCA, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Jeremy Mindich & Amy Smith, Elizabeth Murrell & Gary Haney, National Endowment for the Arts, New Music USA, New York Community Trust, New York State Council on the Arts (with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature), Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Scopia Capital Management, Matthew Sirovich & Meredith Elson, Maria & Robert A. Skirnick, Jane & Dick Stewart, Sandra Tait and Hal Foster, Trust for Mutual Understanding, U.S Department of State, Williamson Foundation for Music, Adam Wolfensohn & Jennifer Small, and Wolfensohn Family Foundation.
Bang on a Can’s Board of Directors: Michael Kushner, president; Sandra Tait, vice-president; Alan Kifferstein, Treasurer; Robert A. Skirnick, secretary. Betto Arcos, Daniel Baldini, Jeffrey Bishop, Stephen Block, Jeffrey Calman, Michael Gordon, Lynette Jaffe, David Lang, Leslie Lassiter, George Lewis, Raulee Marcus, Elizabeth Murrell, Jane Stewart, Julia Wolfe, Adam Wolfensohn
Bang on a Can Staff:
Artistic Directors: Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe
Executive Director: Kenny Savelson
Development Director: Tim Thomas
Summer Festival Director and Project : Philippa Thompson
Producer: Sruly Lazaros
1Beat Co-Directors: Chris Marianetti, Jeremy Thal, Elena Moon Park
1Beat Managers: Kyla-Rose Smith and Ezra Tenenbaum
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Archive Content Manager: Matt Evans
Assistant Store Manager: Cassie Wieland
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