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NYT Review: ‘New Voices, New Music’ From David Lang at Zankel Hall

New York Times
By Steve Smith

Welcoming the audience from the Zankel Hall stage brightly on Wednesday night, the composer David Lang said that when Carnegie Hall presented him with a range of possible activities to undertake as the newest holder of its Debs Composers Chair, he had responded that he wanted to do them all.

Thus, his residency will include both a family concert with the Bang on a Can All-Stars and a chamber-orchestra program, and concludes in April with “collected stories,” a gloriously eclectic six-concert festival.

“I mean, I would be happy to sell beer here,” he said. “In fact, maybe I’ll ask to do that.”

It figures. As a founder of the trailblazing collective Bang on a Can, Mr. Lang knows about variety, enterprise and gumption. That, as well as the lofty imprimatur of his 2008 Pulitzer Prize, makes him an ideal ambassador for a conventional institution seeking to engage with an entrepreneurial new wave of composers and performers.

“New Voices, New Music,” the program Mr. Lang hosted on Wednesday, was the culmination of a six-day workshop that matched four young ensembles with as many emerging composers. He enlisted the International Contemporary Ensemble to help with the coaching, and — showing an atypically broad view of music’s social ecology — also embedded four aspirant music journalists, supervised by the Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed.