by: Hobert Taylor
Julia Wolfe - Anthracite Fields - (Canteloupe Music)
2015 Pulitzer prize winning composition, Anthracite Fields, features the Bang on a Can All-Stars, an admixture of classical and contemporary instruments in a chamber music setting, and the Choir of Trinity Church Wall Street.
This stunning work references plainsong and early music while simultaneously evoking contemporary serialism. At times rock inflected polyrhythms drive the work forward.
Like the music of Arvo Pärt, there is a timelessness about this music, profoundly sacred in its performance, yet written in the most vernacular American speech.
Wolfe honors the miners who fueled the American industrial transcendence in ways that are often sharp and brittle like the titular fine grade of coal. There is also a mitigating sotto voce understatement in the andante passages, a softening haze of memory.
A live performance is occurring this Sunday at Disney Hall.