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Steel Hammer at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA July 27

On July 27, the Massachussetts Museum of Contemporary Art and Bang on a Can present Julia Wolfe’s mesmerizing evening-length art ballad Steel Hammer as part of the Bang on a Can Summer Festival.

The work is inspired by her love for the legends and music of Appalachia, and culls from both the music and oral traditions of the region. The text is taken from over 200 versions of the John Henry ballad – based on hearsay, recollection, and tall tales – and explores the subject of human vs…

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Julia Wolfe on NEPR

August 1, 2014

The music of Beethoven and Bach gets a lot of attention in the Berkshires every summer. But amid the more august offerings, there is a musical collective that wants to rip the powdered wig off traditional classical music. Playing the work of living composers, and using unconventional methods, they are interested in anything but a musical history lesson.

Leading a string ensemble of about twenty musicians an hour before their public recital, conductor Brad Lubman gives his players an unusual criticism—they sound too polished, clean, locked in with each other…

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