American Mavericks

Music

American Mavericks at Carnegie Hall, Tuesday, March 27, 2012, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Play Varèse, Cowell, Cage, and Adams

The reviews of three concerts and a dance performance you will find on The Berkshire Review and New York Arts, one in San Francisco and three in New York, represent only a small part of the month-long festival, organized by Carnegie Hall under Michael Tilson Thomas’ direction, but including many other events scattered about the city at venues including the the Whitney, the Henry Street Settlement, the New York Public Library, and (le) Poisson Rouge. (Click here for a full listing. It should be noted that Michael Clark, reviewed here by Louise Levathes, is very much a maverick, although not an American.) I especially regret I couldn’t attend more of it, but I can take some consolation in referring you to WQXR’s expansive coverage of most aspects of the festival, with articles, interviews, and snippets of performances.)
Music

Not Maverick Enough? San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas performing at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday, March 28, 2012, in the “American Mavericks” Festival

Michael Tilson Thomas’s “American Mavericks” concerts came to New York, centered on four programs at Carnegie Hall with the superb San Francisco Symphony, surrounded by a whirl of fringe events throughout the city. This was a bold and appropriate way to show not only the versatility and virtuosity of the orchestra but also the evolution of orchestral culture in the United States: the works were played as modern classics, with the ideal combination of polish and bite that they call for. The audience has clearly evolved along with the orchestras: Carnegie Hall was close to full with a healthy mixture of grey and not-so-grey heads intently focused on the music. So accomplished and appealing were the performances that even the Feldman work, probably the most novel work on the program, held audience attention effortlessly through its 26-plus minute duration.
Dance

Michael Clark’s Who’s Zoo at Whitney Biennial (in Conjunction with Carnegie Hall’s American Mavericks)

All of the wall dividers in the Whitney’s fourth floor galleries are down creating an enormous long, rectangular dance platform. The iconic trapezoid window jutting out over Madison Avenue has been covered. Yet, my eyes, perhaps accustomed to seeing painting and sculpture in this space, seem to look for comparisons with static art forms in the seven-part abstract dance sequence by British choreographer Michael Clark, entitled “Who’s Zoo,” to the pop-punk recorded music of Javis Cocker. This is dance more like animated sculpture, creating forms and shapes to be viewed as curious objects, not fluid art in motion.
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