April is apparently THE month for new music in Austin. It is also THE month for end-of-the-school-year stress for those of us still in school (i.e. pretty much all of the NaB staff). There are a lot of big events that we want to cover this month on the blog and we want to do so as best as possible, but just in case we miss something along the way, here is a list of events in town that we recommend this month.
Besides being successful composers and alumni of the doctoral program in composition here at UT, Robert Honstein, Ian Dicke, and Steven Snowden are the master curators this Austin yearly new music festival. This year they’re moving to the The North Door and bringing Mantra Percussion, Tatsuya Nakatani, Grant Wallace Band, The Skyros String Quartet & West Fourth New Music, and Load Bang from places as far as NYC and Japan, as well as locals line upon line percussion. You know that friend, the one who when they tell you to go to a show, you don’t hesitate for a second because you just know that their taste is impeccable and you can’t go wrong? That’s the collective brain of Robert, Ian and Steve.
I had the good fortune last weekend of seeing the preview of ZACH Theatre’s production of The Gospel at Colonus, an adaptation of Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus by Lee Breuer, with music by Bob Telson. Look I’ve seen some really shitty adaptations of Oedipus. That’s like the first base of theater going. This one involved an all black cast, and a full on gospel choir . Reading artistic director Dave Steakley’s interview with the Statesman about the production was actually very touching. It’s like you know there are things on the ZACH theater calendar that these people do not feel passionate about *coughmollyringwaldcough*, but Gospel clearly has a really special place in Mr. Steakley’s artistic career. He literally lived near-broke in his post-college artist days for a few months so he could see the original production of this in NYC in the ’80s. Twice. I’m so glad he’s bringing it to us now. There’s something about seeing a production that involves a story primarily told by people of color, and has so far escaped mainstream media and fallen into obscurity, that makes me want to rage against the system for not having given me this musical sooner. The cast and crew really poured some soul into this. This is one of the few performances I’ve experienced this year where at the end, there was no question, I stood and clapped in ovation. Not to mention the fact that the new Topfer theater is possibly my favorite venue to see theater/music in all of Texas: the sound quality is perfection, the seats are comfortable and intimate, their lounges and lobbies are places where I would go to hang on a weekend anyway, the building grounds and silhouettes are moving, and there is literally not a bad view in the whole house.
Thanks to their kickstarter last winter, the whole jam-packed week of Fusebox’s 10th annual experimental arts festival is “free range.” You know what that means? EVERYTHING. IS. FREE. You know how sometimes you want to go see a new avant-garde show but it’s kind of out there and you’re only about 50% sure that you’re going to like it and you’re broke and 50% just isn’t quite enough to get you there? Well don’t worry about that. IT’S FREE. At a glance through their lineup this year these are the artists that catch my eye, but this is a long list so look at the roster and see for yourself: SubHuman Theatre, The Mighty Mighty Pressure Cooker, Suzanne Bocanegra, Puro Chingon Collective, manateemann, Larry/Laura Arrington, Forklift Danceworks, Bird & Anchors. Also their kickoff show that is so spectacular it deserves its own event….
FUSEBOX festival kickoff event, an enormous collaboration between a bunch of Austin arts groups including Texas Performing Arts, Golden Hornet Project, and the Texas Choral Consort. They have commissioned 10 composers to “rework a movement of Mozart’s Requiem Mass which was left incomplete at the composer’s death.” Over 200 musicians will be performing these babies, written by: Glenn Kotche (the drummer from Wilco who also does other stuff I guess), Todd Reynolds (electric violin rockstar), Adrian Quesada (guitarist for Grupo Fantasma), Petra Hayden (plays violin with a bunch of pop bands including The Decemberists), Kate Moore , Justin Sherburn, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky, Caroline Shaw (she won a Pulitzer or something for that piece she wrote for Roomful of Teeth or whatever I don’t care it’s not like I’m a groupie who stalked her old KTRU college radio playlists ’cause that would be weird right) as well as Austin locals Peter Stopchinski and Graham Reynolds.