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First time I ever saw jazz live, I couldn't believe that music could sound that way. Dave Holland Quintet, Ann Arbor, c. 2003. It changed my life forever.
—Michael Maliswhen I was a child, an outdoor concert was rained out. but the performer wanted to play anyway so he gathered a group to go play in the barn behind the stage. I went and fell asleep on my father's lap while listening. —AnonymousPhilip Glass's live performance of "Glassworks," St. Louis Art Museum, 1973. Snatches of the uniquely interesting piece were promoted on local FM stations for two weeks. The Auditorium audience started with about 150 people in attendance. The walk-out began gradually 5 minutes into the piece. I stayed about 20 minutes with maybe 8 people scattered about, when I realized my high pain threshold was deteriorating and the shear boredom of the repetitive arpeggios was driving me insane. The composer, playing keyboard and directing from the bench with an occasional nod, gave no indication that corrections should be made nor that there was, indeed, an audience or a problem. To this day, I consider this piece one of the most god-awful examples of the genre called, Minimalism. I guess, if you are a composer, you have to start somewhere.
—James NickelThis is a VERY difficult question for me to answer, but I will lump just a few select "experiences" together and call it a day: (1) Hearing Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8 performed by the Blair String Quartet at Vanderbilt University, (2) Performing a Bach Chorale from the St. Matthew Passion ("Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden") IN the Thomaskirche, in Leipzig, Germany, and (3) Taking part in all things "Bang on a Can" that I was lucky enough to experience in person (Marathons, the Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA, etc.)...
—Sam CrawfordLive performance of Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich on the great vast plain under the night sky with a surround sound in the summer air.
—Alexander BashlaevMy favorite memory from a live event was when I traveled to LA to see David Lang's opera, "The Loser," and after the show I got to meet some of the crew. I had the opportunity to talk to David and he told me that my students were very fortunate to have me as a choir director. It was really beautiful to get to share a memory like that from a show that is an example of praising the prodigy while the one individual is in the shadows, kind of how I was feeling at that point in my career.
—Alex Martinezat the end of a piece, when the music winds down to a final, elongated note ... and then you share the final silence with a few thousand people in the audience. So quiet, amid so many people.
—Peter VukosavichThe lights going down and the sound enveloping the room. The excitement of seeing an artist for the first time. The shouting out of "Free Bird"!
—AnonymousSymphony Hall Boston - Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
also: Lily Pad Cambridge piano festival held on 2 consecutive weekends (4 days) from afternoon till night.
—Etta BoneSitting cross-legged on the floor of the Shrine Exposition Hall in Los Angeles in 1967 or 1968 at a Mothers of Invention concert (opener was Sweetwater and maybe Iron Butterfly) for maybe four hours being completely blown away by the music. Zappa's band was astonishing and the music amazing.
—Fred BoginSeeing the Grit Orchestra playing at Glasgow Concert Hall on the opening night of Celtic Connections. I was amazed at there being nine double bass players and four bagpipe players in the orchestra. I felt all the sound reverberate from my toes to my head.
—Kate LeiperFeeling at one with the moment and the feeling!
—Xina HawkinsYo Yo MA solo at Lincoln Center or Carnegie when I was about 9. My mother took me. It took my breath away. I had never been transported that way by music before.
—Carol Blumlistening to Steve Reich live for the first time, at Le Poisson Rouge. —AnonymousBrooklyn Philharmonic with Spano conducting, and they performed something by Ligeti but behind a think screen. I could hear the subway softly rumbling from below.
—Amy SalsgiverMemory # 3.
It's the all night marathon at World Financial Center. I've settled in for the overnight in order to hear Stockhausen‘s Stimmung at dawn, along with a few hundred other friends and like-minded strangers. Energy is lagging, people are nodding out in their seats. Then, at about 4 in the morning, Dan Deacon is set up in the middle of the venue, a few dozen fans in tow. He blasts out a noisy set of electronic punk rock, and for the first time I recall, there's crowdsurfing at a BOAC Marathon.
—Bill BraginMemory #2:
I think it was the first BOAC Marathon at Alice Tully Hall, 1997. I went to the restroom during a break, and when I came back, Icebreaker were already onstage playing Michael Gordon's Trance. I remember being stunned by the mix of minimalism and hardcore riffing, and being unable to take a seat - my memory is that I watched the entire hourlong piece standing in the aisle, transfixed.
—Bill Bragin3 memories. Will post separately
Memore #1: Earliest one - it's probably the summer after my freshman year in college. I had just learned about Terry Riley's In C through a class in the Music of Frank Zappa. Found out that BOAC was presenting it at RAPP Arts Center, a converted school in what was then still referred to as Alphabet City. Somehow, I succeeded in convincing my musician father to join me in volunteering for the event, helping check tickets. My mind was continually cracked open for many hours. I don't think he even remembers it 😉
—Bill BraginSeeing/hearing Terry Riley improvise at one of your Marathons
—Bentrevor pinnock haydn wigmore hall
—Joao Pina-CabralI once saw Steven Mackey and Jennifer Koh perform Mackey's double concerto Four Iconoclastic Episodes with the LA Phil (John Adams conducting). They were in the middle of a particularly aggressive section when the bridge on Jennifer Koh's violin snapped in half. They stopped the show and she traded violins with one of the violinists in the back row and jumped right back in. It was one of the most bad-ass things I've seen happen in a concert hall.
—Mario GodoyThe time an audience member stormed out yelling "this is a piece of s**t!" at Lukas Foss, who was conducting. —AnonymousOpening up for Kraftwerk with Steve Reich and Bang On A Can. <3 🙂
—Derek JohnsonOne of my favorite memories is when Mark Stewart and David Cossin had a recital at the Bang on a Can Festival last summer. The atmosphere they created made the space so magical! Also, this website is sooo awesome, I love it!!!
—Humay GasimzadeGetting turned inside out by Tanya Tagaq. —AnonymousRobert Ashley's Now Eleonor's Idea at Avignon Festival 1994
—Jerome HentschLast night I came home from the hospital. As I walked down Broadway around 7:00, the nightly celebration for front-line workers – medical professionals, first responders, transit workers, and others – happened all around me. All of New York hanging out the window, hitting saucepans, striking pie tins, clapping, screaming, banging on cans. I wept and wept.
—Mike PerduePhilip Glass' Koyaanitqatsi played Live syncronised with the Godfrey Reggio's film by PG Ensemble in Albacete, Spain, about year 1990!
—J Carlos MurciaA crazy concert from a rapper named Residente, 35,000 people, no seats, just pure energy.
—Christian QuinonesMahler's 5th with the Chicago Symphony in Carnegie Hall. Solti. I think it was my first major "big deal" concert and the live music - and the almost riotous reception by the audience - has stayed with me for my entire life.
—Jeffrey CalmanMylo on the beach in Miami, Prince at the Garden playing encore after encore: "I've got too many hits!"
—PETER STEPEKA fifteenth century chorale work performed in a fifteenth century church in Venice.
—Robert FusilloLower east side - happy - small - exciting
—Jon HurdKing Sunny Ade at Millennium Park, Chicago, 2016
—AnonymousA church in Köln (St. Maternus?) where I sat in a pew
with Stockhausen's ex-wife and two of his daughters
watching a son of his perform.
—Rod StasickA noise show once. The boundaries between my body and the air and the other people had faded. The music had made us one consciousness.
—LouijePhilip Glass Ensemble at Malmö Live in 2019. —AnonymousLorraine Hunt Lieberson - "Ich Habe Genug" - at the theatre at John Jay. Extraordinary. RIP. There was also another noteworthy event at that same theatre - dance with music: Mark Morris hand-picked one of his dancers (Dallas McMurray) to perform "O Rangasayee," first time ever that it had been danced by someone else. It was mesmerizing, as the Morris performance had been back in the '80s.
—Dick KuczkowskiJames Maddalena singing "Winterreise" at BAM, in the late '80's I think. Or maybe Mark Stewart playing something terrific on his guitar at a donor event at David's place in Soho a long time ago. Or the Tuvan throat singers at a Marathon at the Winter Garden a long time ago. Can't stop... but must stop. Will stop.
—Mia LeoIn 2000 I lived in Dallas and saw the Suicide Machines live. It was August and it was a crappy club and it must have been 115 degrees inside. The bass player got overexcited and passed out in the middle of the set (luckily he wasn't hurt). His bandmates got him up, splashed water on his face, put the instrument back in his hands and the moment he was cognizant he shouted a truly punk rock "ONE TWO THREE FOUR" and they launched into the tune again. So punk rock.
—David SkidmorePerforming with my friends on the streets of South Africa —AnonymousHearing the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble play Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians at around 4am (2007 Marathon).
—Torin ThurstonMy favourite music live music event was a concert by the British Esoteric band COIL in 2000 in Nantes, France. The music was powerful, highly evocative and inspiring. The show was both magnificent and humane. I am ever so glad I saw John Balance and Peter Christopherson in the flesh before they both sadly passed away... Hence, my very favourite live music event...
—Christophe LibeauMay be Gérard Grisey's Les Espaces acoustiques in 1996 in Strasbourg, France. I was 19. First time of my life I heard contemporary music. And now theorizing contemporary music in philosophy is my job !
—lambert doussonRoomful of Teeth doing Caroline SHaw's Partita for 8 Voices in Times Square.
—Patrick SweeneySteve Reich - 2x5 at Carnegie Hall with 10 players - we achieved 'liftoff' - the entire stage and auditorium seemed to hover is space.
—Robert BlackRobert Ashley in Avignon festival
—Jerome HentschNaked City in Montreux festival
—Jerome HentschDavid Byrne - American Utopia. And, of course, many BoaC marathons. So glad I could be there for lots of them.
* Listening to 18 Musicians in a Church in Berkely CA in 1974 or 75
* Trichy Sankaran and Abraham Adzinyah drumming together at the Music Gallery in Toronto