For the world to be interesting, you have to be manipulating it all the time. – Brian Eno
In 1978, Brian Eno composed his revolutionary ambient masterwork Music for Airports. 20 years later, in what seemed like a perfect marriage of barrier-breaking music and innovative musicians, Bang on a Can released a new interpretation of Music for Airports on Philip Glass’ POINT Music label. The piece was arranged by composer Evan Ziporyn and Bang on a Can founders and composers Michael Gordon, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lang and Julia Wolfe. It was performed live for the first time by the Bang on a Can All-Stars during the Holland Festival accompanied by Frank Scheffer’s digitally shot images of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.
On January 27, 2009 Medici Arts releases this unique and revelatory film featuring a new arrangement of Brian Eno’s Music for Airports enhanced by Scheffer’s “out of focus” illustrations. The release also includes the landmark Frank Scheffer documentary In the Ocean in which the complicated contemporary classical music scene of the past, present and future is discussed by composers such as Brian Eno, Steve Reich, Louis Andriessen, John Cage, and the founders of Bang on a Can.
Pioneering composer, conceptual artist, non-musical pop star, Grammy-winning record producer, writer and philosopher Brian Eno created and recorded his “ambient music” masterpiece Music for Airports to diffuse the irritating atmosphere of airport terminals. An atheist who turned to art because it existed in God’s absence, Eno developed an almost unhealthy obsession for sound. Eno believed that music was the noblest art. “I had wanted a tape recorder since I was tiny. I thought it was a magic thing’, said Eno of his first musical instrument. His fascination with capturing, experimenting with, and using sounds led him to musical collaborations with artists and composers such as U2, Talking Heads, Cluster, Devo, David Bowie, Genesis and Philip Glass, among many others. Scored for voices and instruments including acoustic piano and synthesizer, Eno’s Music for Airports was composed after he was bedridden from a car accident in 1975. The concept of ambient music was born from Eno’s inability to walk across his bedroom to change the volume on his radio. The low sound of what was coming out of the speakers weaved in and out of the beating of the rain outside of his window created calming and time-passing music. Described by Eno as music that “must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular: it must be as ignorable as it is interesting,” his work Music for Airports is the culmination of Eno’s varied and colorful journey to his goal of ambient perfection.
Frank Scheffer’s documentary In the Ocean offers the experiences and opinions of some of the world’s greatest contemporary composers and performers who have never before appeared together on film. The composers discuss the complex “establishment” that is contemporary classical music; what it means to compose this music, the inspiration of one continent on another; the influences they have on one another, and the new and ever-evolving face of the art-form. The story of Bang on a Can is used to illustrate many of these points as well as to convey this inimitable music to a wider audience.
Formed in 1987 by composers Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe, Bang on a Can is dedicated to commissioning, performing, creating, presenting and recording contemporary music. With an ear for the new, the unknown and the unconventional, Bang on a Can strives to expose exciting and innovative music as broadly and accessibly as possible to new audiences worldwide. And through its Summer Festival, Bang on a Can hopes to bring this energy and passion for innovation to a younger generation of composers and players.