Musicology, Ethnomusicology and Music Theory Graduate Colloquium Series
William Robin, Associate Professor of Musicology at the University of Maryland’s School of Music, presents "'Minimalism Is History Now': Bang on a Can and Minimalism in the Late Twentieth Century."
Room 130, Edward Johnson Building, 80 Queen's Park, Toronto
All colloquia take place from 3:30 to 5 pm, unless otherwise noted, with a reception to follow from 5 to 6 pm.
“Minimalism is history now,” the composer Michael Gordon said in a 1997 interview, reflecting on how the avant-garde musical style, though once controversial, had become widely recognized. “Certainly there are still people walking around saying that minimalism is not serious music, but I think that that’s already history,” he concluded. Gordon himself played a significant role in helping minimalism become “serious music.” In 1987, with composers David Lang and Julia Wolfe, he co-founded Bang on a Can, a freewheeling contemporary music marathon held in downtown New York, which by the late 1990s grew into a multi-faceted organization with its own ensemble, a series of successful records, and a residency at Lincoln Center. Since its beginnings, Bang on a Can foregrounded minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass, as well as minimalist-influenced music by the founders’ peers and contemporaries. In analyzing Bang on a Can’s relationship to minimalism, this talk examines what happens to a musical style as it is historicized, by looking at who historicizes it: the cultural intermediaries who curated, revived, and marketed minimalism, and thus reshaped its meaning at the turn of the twenty-first century.