Meet you at INTERsection Music Festival 2012

INTERsection Music Festival is entering its 6th year in Toronto with an expanded multi-day format. The event will feature a talented lineup performing through Labour Day weekend. Jerry Pergolesi, artistic director of the festival and founding member of the group Contact, was kind enough to chat with me about the festival, Brian Eno, experimental music, and other things.

Featuring: Contact, TorQ, Bang on a Can All-Stars and more. Performing works by Phillip Glass, John Cage, Steve Reich as well as new original work, the festival helps bring innovative music to Toronto.

“It’s something that I wanted to do for a long time. I was really inspired by the Bang on a Can marathon that [has been happening] in New York since the late 80s. It was pretty radical at the time [and] very much like Woodstock or any of those big, giant, all day music festivals, but it just doesn’t happen in the classical music world. That’s what made Bang on a Can so radical.”

This Saturday, Torontonians are treated to an 8-hour music marathon for free at Yonge & Dundas Square.

The line-up is exotic: an eclectic, between-the-walls type set-list.

“The criteria that I use [for the festival] is that [it has to be] experimental. And that’s pretty much the litmus test if you will… is it experimental? The musicians and the artists are trying to reach beyond the limitations [of] the genre they’re working in.[The festival is a] mish mash of different styles and genres… We more or less build these boundaries around ourselves and this [festival] breaks them all down. Where [we hold it] is significant too. Because we’re doing this in the middle of a city, anybody can make their way out there and listen. [If you] stick around [for] 20 minutes, you can hear something different.”

Sunday is a sort of tribute to Brian Eno with a re-staging of two of his works: Music for Airports and Discreet Music. It’s a ticketed event, taking place at The Music Gallery. Eno’s ambient/generative work is a logical choice to celebrate new music.

“Brian Eno’s music is as relevant as any other music out there and you don’t even necessarily need to compare it to you know, say, Stravinsky, or Beethoven or whoever. You don’t need to sit there and A B it. We think this is a really significant piece of music. It’s significant, it’s beautiful, and it’s worth us bringing into our repertoire and playing. Bang on a Can all-stars recorded Music For Airports back in 1992, and it was the first time that a chamber ensemble [did] serious, high art music. I don’t want to say interpreted, but for lack of a better word, ‘interpreted’ a piece of music by, again for lack of a better word, a ‘pop artist’. Brian Eno is necessarily a pop artist  but he was one of the founding members of Roxy Music. He produced Talking Heads. He produced David Bowie. He’s worked with [all sorts of[ major artists. He’s also created his own music and I think [it] has a very loyal following. So, when Bang on a Can did an arrangement of Music for Airports [that remained] extremely faithful to the original, it was kind of monumental”

Contact will be performing Eno’s Discreet Music, an experiment in generative music that plays on your periphery – created by a system, now arranged for an ensemble.

“Discreet Music is definitely a loop piece. It was generated with synthesizers and tape machines that would loop and so on. It is kind of weird to reinterpret that with live musicians because you’re asking them to do something that was originally done with a machine. When you bring in the human element, that’s where the chance comes into play.
By adding the human element, we’re able to actually take it somewhere Eno couldn’t. We’re adding a little bit more chance, a little more opportunity for failure and glitch.

Composers are almost boundless; there are no limits on intervals, progressions, form, and constructed ideas of taste.

“I think nowadays composers can pretty much do whatever they want. The only limitation anyone has nowadays [are those] that are set by their own imagination. If someone is writing a piece for a string quartet, the limitation is the string quartet. There’s no denying that we live in this very pluralistic society and that we have so many influences to draw from, and so many things to be inspired by… why limit ourselves? Sometimes composers are stifled [by] everything [they] could possibly throw in there. You almost have to weed out what you’re not going to throw into a piece and decide that ‘this is what I’m going to write about, at least for this piece, now’. ”

Bang on a Can All-Stars (Photo by Pascal Perich and Julien Jourdes, 2011)

Saturday, September 1, 2-10pm

New Music Marathon and Musicircus in the Marketplace

Yonge-Dundas Square

September 2, 2012, 8pm

Ambient² – BRIAN ENO

Performed Live By:
The Music Gallery 197 John Street
Doors 7:30pm/ Concert 8pm
Tickets $25 regular/ $20 members

Official INTERsection website

Listen to: Bang On a Can All-Stars


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