P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2001
September 20, 2001
Bang on a Can Returns to MASS MoCA with Mix of Innovative and Traditional Musical Puppet Theater
The wayang kulit or shadow puppet tradition is one of the oldest theatrical forms dating back to 1200 AD, and yet it remains one of the most popular forms of performance in Bali and Java. In its traditional form, it is both entertainment and religion using classical texts and story lines to convey everything from high moral lessons to low humor. Traditionally, the puppeteer sits behind a screen that is illuminated by an oil lamp, manipulating ornately carved puppets and casting their shadows on the screen. Musical accompaniment is provided by a virtuoso chamber ensemble called a gamelan, who follows the puppeteer's every move.
Bang on a Can's new wayang, Shadow Bang, brings a new musical and theatrical dimension to the art form. Replacing the traditional gamelan with the Bang on a Can All-Stars, composer Evan Ziporyn bridges Balinese and Western musical idioms to forge an entirely new sound. In place of the oil lamp, a dramatic stage and lighting design casts large shadows onto scrims in front of and behind the musicians and puppeteer. By providing multiple perspectives, the performance reveals both the process and the product of Wija's unique artistry, retaining the intimacy inherent in the tradition while also placing it in a broader cultural context.
I Wayan Wija is one of the most popular dalangs (shadow masters) in Bali, performing almost every night of the year. He has won numerous awards for his performing abilities in the popular Mahabharata and Ramayna wayang genres. Wija has also transcended the traditional bounds of his art by creating new types of wayang. In addition to the traditional shadow puppetry Wija has also pioneered Wayang Tantri, a kind of Aesop's fables of traditional Indonesian stories for which he created new animal puppets including giant dinosaurs. He has used the Tantri stories to spread an environmental consciousness in Bali. Wija has performed extensively in Europe, India, the United States, Canada, Australia and Asia. He has collaborated with Lee Breuer on MahabarAnta, a part of the Warrior Ant Series; with Larry Reed's ShadowLight Productions on Wayang Listrik for the Henson International Puppet Theater Festival; and with the Mabou Mines Theater Company.
The Bang on a Can All-Stars freely cross classical, jazz, rock, world and experimental music. This six-member amplified ensemble from New York has come to be known worldwide for its unparalleled performances of today's most innovative music, defining musics that as yet have no name. Recent concert appearances include Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, The Walker Arts Center, The Holland Festival, Royal Albert Hall, and The Sydney Olympics Arts Festival. The Albany Times Union said of Bang on a Can's performance of Carbon Copy Building at MASS MoCA last season, "the music ran the gamut from ambient sonic washes to propulsive polyrhythmic rock to minimalist series that echoed Philip Glass and Steve Reich."
Composer Evan Ziporyn's work is informed by his 20-year involvement with the traditional music of Bali. He is founder and director of Boston's Gamelan Galak Tika, for whom he has written a series of innovative works for gamelan and western instruments. As a member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, he has performed at international festivals around the globe, most recently at the Holland Festival, Warsaw Autumn, and Wien Modern. He also co-produced and arranged their acclaimed recording of Brian Eno's Music for Airports. As part of the Steve Reich Ensemble, he shared a 1999 Grammy for their recording of Music for 18 Musicians. Other collaborators include the Kronos Quartet, The Netherlands Wind Ensemble, Ensemble Modern, Tan Dun, Wu Man, Basso Bongo, Paul Simon and Red Fish Blue Fish. A professor at MIT, he has also taught at the Yale School of Music, New England Conservatory, and the University of California. His most recent CD, Gamelan Galak Tika, was recently released on New World Records; his works have also been recorded on Sony Classical, Koch, and New Tone.
Production Designer Paul Schick holds a PhD in Musicology from Yale University. He has worked on the directing staffs at the Vienna State Opera, the Salzburg Summer Festival, La Scala and the San Francisco Opera. Forthcoming pieces include Sunburst with composer Dan Plonsey, Bhima with composer Wayne Vitale, and Feynman with composer Jack Vees. A disciple of Sridevi Thirumalai, he has also performed South Indian classical dance. His interest in Balinese music and theater stems from his participation in Gamelans Jagat Anyer at Yale and Galak Tika at MIT.
Tickets for Shadow Bang are $28 for orchestra seats, $24 for mezzanine and $20 for students. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams from 10 A.M. until 6 P.M. daily. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at www.massmoca.org.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
For Immediate Release