Posted on 8 March 2019
by MMNY Staff
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Composer Patrick Grant and Tilted Axes: Music for Mobile Electric Guitars, in partnership with NYU Faculty Housing Happenings, present an evening of innovative musical performance featuring a procession through Greenwich Village that begins and ends with a solstice soundscape in honor of Sasaki Garden set aglow with enchanting lights. The evening’s musical commission is titled “Cold Moon Consort” in reference to 2018’s winter solstice and the December full moon occurring within the same day. Arrive at Sasaki Garden at 5:00pm and receive a small flashlight to participate in the spectacle and illuminate the performance route.
A Make Music first! On December 21st, as part of Make Music Winter 2018, two groups will cross paths in NYC and perform a collaborative piece together. Tilted Axes: Music for Mobile Electric Guitars’ Patrick Grant and Bell By Bell’s Tom Peyton will have their groups perform at The Alamo, the Astor Place Cube, ca. 5:55 pm to ring in the new season with the premiere of a new composition, ‘Tiltinnabulation.’
WHEN & WHERE:
The musical procession on Friday, December 21 begins with a solstice soundscape in Sasaki Garden accessed via 4 Washington Square Village, just north of Bleecker Street and west of Mercer Street, at 5:00 pm and wends its way throughout Greenwich Village before returning to the garden for the finale. Take the 6 train to Bleecker Street or B/D/F/M to East Houston Street-Lafayette Street.
HOW TO JOIN: Just arrive at Sasaki Garden by 5:00pm to receive a small flashlight to participate in the spectacle and illuminate the performance route!
ABOUT THE PROGRAM CREATOR, COMPOSER AND CONDUCTOR:
Tilted Axes was created in 2011 for the inaugural Make Music Winter festival by Detroit-born, NYC-based composer/performer Patrick Grant. Tilted Axes cuts musical pathways through the urban landscape, turning neighborhoods into their own sonic narratives. Since its inception, Grant has produced a number of Tilted Axes processions in various cities upon three continents.
For a current lineup of confirmed performers and participants, visit http://tiltedaxes.com/cold_
ABOUT NYU FACULTY HOUSING HAPPENINGS:
NYU Faculty Housing Happenings include occasional open to the public community events designed to celebrate outdoor spaces on the superblocks headlined by Sasaki Garden, one of the finest modernist landscapes in the city. Recommended by the Superblock Stewardship Advisory Committee, community events are generously supported by Provost Katherine E. Fleming and organized by Erin Donnelly, Community Liaison, Office of Faculty Housing & Residential Services. For additional information, visit https://www.nyu.edu/faculty/faculty-housing/happenings/Winter_Luminaria.html
INTEVIEW WITH COMPOSER PATRICK GRANT AND ERIN DONNELLY, COMMUNITY LIAISON FOR THE NYU OFFICE OF NYU FACULTY HOUSING & RESIDENTAIL SERVICES:
JB: Patrick, let me start by sharing how happy I am finally to have the chance to work with you on a Tilted Axes: Music for Mobile Electric Guitars program this winter. But this is far from the first time you have partnered with Make Music New York. Could you give our fans a little background on the origins of Tilted Axes in general and in the intersections it shares with our mission?
PG: I already had a reputation of being a presenter of unusual and groundbreaking work, so it seemed natural that I became a part of the Make Music New York Family. I was a co-producer on the very first Make Music New York in 2007 with the largest NYC performance of Terry Riley’s “In C” to date. I have co-produced four more large-scale summer events for Make Music New York since then. When Make Music Winter was being born, I was asked if I had anything to contribute. That’s how Tilted Axes came about and why its name is a guitar and astronomy pun that acknowledges the axial tilt of the Earth that creates our seasons. It was partly based on the role of Village musicians throughout history and being a part of something bigger than themselves. That’s a lot to draw from. It is also a combination of avant-garde street theater (a NYC tradition) and community music found in places like Bali and West Africa, where even the trickiest pieces are designed to be performed by virtuoso and adept beginner alike. In this way, it offers the open participation that Make Music is known for, though rehearsal and preparation are required to be a part of Tilted Axes. In my desire to free electric guitars from the stage through experiments with portable mini-amps, we ended up creating a brand new thing: the electric guitar procession. As it turns out, it’s the first of its kind and I’m known as its inventor.
JB: Very cool, thanks. Let’s get into some of the details about the compositions that you have created for the “Winter Luminaria with Tilted Axes” procession. What is your overall creative process and how were you more particularly inspired by the winter solstice in crafting the program our audiences will experience?
PG: People ask me: “What’s the difference between a parade and a procession?” I always give them the same answer: “Intention.” I have a long history of creating music for avant-garde stage works by the likes of The Living Theater, Robert Wilson, and installations in galleries and museums. There is a certain sense of ceremony that is necessary to focus groups of performers into something that connects and communicates to an intended, or accidental, audience. I do research when putting together a new piece. I look for non-musical things that I can tie into the work. In this case, it was finding out that the December full moon, the Cold Moon, is happening at almost the same time as the solstice, just a few hours after. If the sky is clear, we’ll see it in the sky on the night of the 21st. This ties in wonderfully to the astronomical reason for all of Make Music’s celebrations. Having that image in mind, along with the luminaria that will be set up in Sasaki Garden, most of the newest music was created as if the garden was a stage, which in effect, it will be.
JB: Let’s get Erin into the conversation as well. Erin, we’re so grateful and excited to partner again with you and NYU Faculty Housing on a Make Music celebration. An important element of Winter Luminaria with Tilted Axes is the environment from which the procession will embark and culminate. Can you tell us a bit about Sasaki Garden and how the program fits in with your community engagement initiatives?
ED: Sasaki Garden is a 1.5-acre modernist landscape designed by Hideo Sasaki in 1958. The garden is central to community life in Washington Square Village, not just for our residents but also for the public to enjoy its beauty. American landscape architect Hideo Sasaki (1919-2000) is renowned for pioneering the concept of interdisciplinary design by focusing on the nexus of land, buildings, and the larger environment. The garden set aglow with enchanting lights is the perfect setting for Patrick’s site-specific musical commission “Cold Moon Consort,” as his solstice soundscape will amplify the already elevated environment. NYU Faculty Housing Happenings are designed to celebrate our outdoor spaces on the superblocks. Bringing in the arts, specifically contemporary performances, is instrumental to how we can honor the uniqueness of Sasaki and the historical significance of the place.
JB: How can Make Music Winter fans participate in Winter Luminaria with Tilted Axes and what should they expect?
ED: We invite all to arrive at Sasaki Garden at 5:00pm to receive a small flashlight to participate in the spectacle and illuminate the performance route. This event is very special, as the garden will be open in the evening and transformed by luminaria lighting along the pathways, fitting in nicely with recent initiatives to make the space more welcoming by improving signage and entryway design so that gates are always open during regular hours. Part of Sasaki’s charm is that it sits four feet above grade, so pedestrians walking through Washington Square Village along the north-south axis are pleasantly surprised when they go up the garden steps and wonder why they never noticed this amazing place before! Therefore, you do not want to miss us on the 21st, so please look for the ramp entry to the event via 4 Washington Square Village, just north of Bleecker Street and west of Mercer Street. (A map can be found above.)
PG: I also would like to add that Tilted Axes “Cold Moon Consort” begins and completes with the luminaria on Sasaki Garden. We will perform there, as Erin described, during the 5 o’clock hour and again during the 6 o’clock hour as a finale. In between those times, we will go on a procession into the neighborhood and around the East Village. Then, around 5:55 pm we will meet up with another Make Music Winter program “Bell by Bell,” created by Tom Peyton, at The Alamo (a.k.a. the Astor Place Plaza Cube). I have created a new piece called “Tiltinnabulation” for both of our groups to perform during this intersection before going our separate ways: “Bell by Bell” deeper into the EV and Tilted Axes back to Sasaki for our finale. This is, I believe, a Make Music first in that two groups are coming together to make a larger ensemble. More than that, it’s a great example of how, through the commissioning of new music from living composers, one is giving a three-fold gift: one that benefits the presenter, the artists, but mostly the communities from which these projects spring forth.
JB: It is indeed a first and I’m very excited to see the two group intersect and perform together! Let me close by asking both of you if you’d care to share any challenges you have experienced in preparing for the procession and what you most looking forward to?
ED: I think the greatest challenge of this event is really a practical one – making sure people can find Sasaki Garden where the musical procession will begin and end. As an organizer, perhaps it is a blessing hidden in the form of a challenge and part of the journey of making a memorable experience for the public. Our hope is that attendees will be transported by the innovative Tilted Axes performance and the radiance of the garden at night and come back to enjoy the garden and see the seasons change. Lastly, Patrick is a hugely talented artist but also a highly organized one, which is always appreciated! It has been a pleasure to have the chance to work with him and with Make Music New York, as always.
PG: I agree with Erin – it’s the practicalities. I’m grateful that I have worked with some very influential artists and have been able to see how larger structures are put together. That is, at the same time I’m working from the macro to the micro, the production timeline always broken up with regular intervals of making sure everybody else has what they need to work in parallel. It’s constant checkpoints. When everyone is happy for a particular week, I can go off and write/record a new section of music before the whole cycle goes around again (and again) until the figurative curtain goes up. I’ve seen that whether it’s New York, Detroit, Germany or Brazil, Tilted Axes works best when its part of something bigger than itself. I’ve said it before. Sometimes that’s more of an intention than anything else, but it keeps us focused and on target. This coming performance signals the return of Tilted Axes and a new beginning for our work ahead. The aim is to do well for our partners and presenters and to plant creative seeds in the community and for our audience that will benefit all of us in the year ahead. How’s that for a gardening metaphor? I’m very grateful to Erin and her organization for taking a chance on commissioning new music. It’s downright heroic in these uncertain times. I’m equally grateful to Make Music New York for giving us the platform for this all to transpire. The actual details of our Winter Solstice performance are maybe a little hard to predict this far away, but all the elements and participants we need are in place and I think we’ll be pleasantly amazed when we see it and hear it all come together. It’s more than possible.
Illustration by Kyle Lambert of Callout Creative