October 14, Bang on a Can All-Stars took the stage at Brookfield Place's Winter Garden for a live performance of Julia Wolfe's Steel Hammer. Inspired by the legend of steel-driving folk hero John Henry, the piece was a Pulitzer Prize-finalist in 2010 and released on Cantaloupe Records last April. This performance was presented in partnership with Arts Brookfield and WNYC's New Sounds Live and hosted by John Schaefer.
The evening-length cantata marries American folk harmonies and textures (instruments include a hammer dulcimer, mouth harp and banjo) with driving minimalist rhythms and Wolfe's signature dense compositional style.
Steel Hammer was originally recorded by Trio Mediaeval and the Bang on a Can All-Stars - this evening's performance pairs the band with vocalists Emily Eagen, Katie Geissinger and Molly Quinn.
Along with composers David Lang and Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe is a co-founder of the New York-music collective Bang on a Can. She's also on the composition faculty at New York University's Steinhardt School.
Engineers: Edward Haber (technical director and music mix), George Wellington, and Bill Moss