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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Superconductor 2016 Summer Festival Preview Part IV: Lincoln Center Festival

Steve Reich, Chinese opera and (as usual) serious fun.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
He's cooler than you: Steve Reich.
Photo © Nonesuch Records.
The Lincoln Center Festival is the most fluid of the major summer events that fall under the loose umbrella of "classical music festivals" in New York City. One year, it might be presenting the symphonies of Anton Bruckner, another a slew of Russian operas rarely seen and heard at Lincoln Center. This year, it's changed again, with a focus on the music of Steve Reich, the rare art of Chinese opera and...wedding music from the Balkans. Why? Read on.

Most LCF events take place on the Lincoln Center campus, and are divided neatly between Alice Tully Hall, the former New York State Theater (now named after industrialist and political power-monger David Koch) and the Rose Theater, that mid-sized venue that floats in the midst of the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle. Here's an overview of five music and opera highlights from this year's Festival.

Reich Reverberations (June 16-21, Alice Tully Hall, The Appel Room)
Local heroes the JACK Quartet headlines a series of concerts featuring deep focus on the minimalist, futuristic music of composer Steve Reich, a New Yorker who will also hold the Debs Chair as composer-in-residence at Carnegie Hall next season. Sō Percussion will offer a complete performance of Drumming, the JACK players will tackle Different Trains and WTC 9/11 . The titanic Music for 18 Musicians ends the cycle, played by Ensemble Signal.

Paradise Interrupted (July 13-16 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater)
Chinese opera is no stranger at the Lincoln Center Festival, which memorably tried to market a mammoth 1999 staging of The Peony Pavilion as the "Ming Ring. Here, the Wagner comparisons are stilled for this staging of Paradise Interrupted at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater. Billed as part opera, part art installation and combining traditional instruments, singing and dance, this work by composer Huang Ruo gives listeners a look at a very different idea of "opera."

Goran Bregović Wedding and Funeral Orchestra (David Geffen Hall, July 15-16)
Goran Bregović brought his unique Balkan blend of ethnic music and virtuoso players to the Festival ten years ago, and New York's lucrative wedding music business hasn't been the same since. Come celebrate with the energetic music of Eastern Europe as the Wedding and Funeral Orchestra gets an early start on the renovation of David Geffen Hall.

Wang Li and Wu Wei (July 23 at the Kaplan Penthouse)
Two virtuosos specializing in world music bring together the most unlikely combination of instruments: the twanging, finger-driven Jew's harp and the sheng (a hand-held, mouth-blown Chinese organ) in a recital at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse. Expect a series of mellifluous, meandering explorations that (according to the press materials) have a meditative effect on the listener. One night only.

Sō Percussion Trilogy (Kaplan Penthouse, July 28-30)
These three new music concerts are for the hardcore aficionado, the curious, and those interested in the bold horizons of 20th century art music as explored by Steve Reich, Iannis Xenakis, John Cage and others. For three nights, Sō Percussion will rock the Stanley Kaplan penthouse with fierce, probing explorations of pioneering works guaranteed to melt the listener's brain.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.