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Elysian Fields: Under the Pavilion

By Jacob Liverman

 	Fredericks and Brown Concert on the Drey Pavilion

If you have ever been to a MASS MoCA Dré Pavilion show, you already understand it’s magic. My first Pavilion show was Fredericks Brown on June 7. I have been a lifelong blues listener; the grit and soul of Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and, of course, Taj Mahal, have always been standbys. The blues are honest. They celebrate and they complain, they scream and they croon. There is no hiding behind trendy sounds or fancy effects; they embrace the good and bad of their voices and of their lives. This, to me, is the essence of soul. And Fredericks Brown had it.

As good as they were, the concert would not have been as captivating anywhere else.

 	Dré Wapenaar: Pavilion

Deva Mahal, the front woman for Fredericks Brown, has vocals that cut through the late spring air under DrĂ© Wapenaar’s pavilion canopy. Wapenaar hung each canopy separate from and complementary to the one next to it. They are technicolored and arranged at different angles, forming a dynamic ceiling. The canopy reflects the lighting and music over the audience. Wapenaar reappropriates the symbol of the tent for the museum’s pavilion space. The tent, one of humanity’s earliest communal spaces, becomes a place of gathering at MASS MoCA. This space is at once familiar and exciting, transforming the acoustic courtyard into an intimate concert space. Even from the back of the venue I felt connected to Fredericks Brown, and from speaking with Deva after the show – she felt it too.

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At MASS MoCA, we always strive to shake up the atmosphere, whether that means inviting musicians into our galleries for the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, or hosting 6,000 people in Joe’s field for Beck. Elysian Fields, our next Dré Pavilion concert, on Saturday, August 16, at 8pm, offers a dramatic shift from Deva Mahal and Fredericks Brown.

Elysian Fields

Elysian Fields offers elegant and sometimes haunting dream pop, but in all the right ways. Guitarist Oren Bloedow’s tasteful restraint and harmony make Jennifer Charles’ ethereal voice only more piercing. Their music, like water, gently fills the environment and ripples with each jazzy chord.

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Over the past 20 years and 9 albums, Elysian Fields has remained faithful to making the music it loves – regardless of passing trends. Through this, the band has earned tremendous respect among its fans. If its music sounds like a Jeff Buckley resurrection, it is because Elysian Fields includes all the members of Buckley’s band. Although Fields’ music is similar to the late Buckley, their cocktail lounge sway/noir rock is uniquely their own. Fields manages to negotiate Buckley’s dynamism with vocal performance similar to Lana Del Ray.

Their song Red Riding Hood demonstrates a command over narrative and diversity, retelling the Charles Perrault fairy tale in its original, sinister form. The retelling of the classic children’s story mixes in a dash of Tim Burton and exposes all of the underlying tensions in the story.

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Fountains on Fire is a song that you can’t help but sway with. Charles’ voice is hypnotic and sultry without falling into absence. Jennifer Charles’ soaring vocal riffs are complemented by Oren Bloedow’s scorching guitar solo, before they both melt back into softness. They show off their skill in carefully modulating their sound, going from a gentle nightscape into passion and back without a hiccup.

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There’s nothing better to wash down a MASS MoCA summer concert night than Elysian Fields’ sexy, ethereal sound. Upon her visit to the museum last year, Jennifer Charles walked through the galleries and returned to the box office, begging to come back. She feels at home in our refurbished, shabby-chic factory. Elysian Fields’ sounds are golden and dark sapphire, colors reflected in both the Teresita Fernández and Darren Waterston shows, and its dreamscapes echo Izhar Patkin’s veiled rooms; they transport and hypnotize. These galleries will be open until 7pm on Saturday night, just enough time for the sun to set and for you to grab a drink and dinner under the Pavilion before the show.

Elysian Fields intimate August 16th performance is not to be missed.

Posted August 13, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Alternative Cabaret, BLOG, Interns, Music
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A Kid's Summer at MASS MoCA

By the MASS MoCA Education Team

Kids Camp with Mark Stewart-12

Want to feel like a kid again? Take a look inside MASS MoCA’s summer art camps!

Jen

During the week of July 28, our Melody Makers camp created their own musical instruments and constructed a musical obstacle course.  The Bang On A Can musicians, who were in residence at MASS MoCA during the month of July, came by each day and shared their talents with our campers. The Melody Makers tried out instruments ranging from the musical saw to a one-of-a-kind silent guitar that can only be heard through a stethoscope.

Kids Camp with Mark Stewart-14

This week our Story Spinners campers are creating shadow puppets, character masks, and elaborate sets and costumes to bring their original tales to life.

KidsTable

During the last two weeks of August, art camps will continue with the Garden Gnomes & Fairies and Art Ninjas camps. Campers can expect to create fairy and gnome homes in the forest and hone their ninja skills in our expansive galleries.

Come get messy with us next summer or join us sooner for our February break camp!

Kids Teresita

Teresita Fernández, Black Sun (2014). Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

Posted August 6, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Kidspace, Museum Education, North Adams
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Getting to know yMusic

By Shannon Fox 

This weekend we continue our adventures with film as we move from the airport back to our home screen and welcome filmmaker Sam Green and his work, The Measure of All Things. Through exploration of the legends that have captured our collective imagination, Green weaves together portraits of the people, places, and things featured in The Guinness Book of World Records. He is on hand to narrate the film while groundbreaking ensemble yMusic provides live music score. If you are unfamiliar with yMusic or its virtuosic musicians, fear not! We have combed through their impressive résumés to come up with some key factoids that will get you ready to dive into the world of this  indie-pop-classical chamber sextet.

yMusic-Green_621x290

First off: yMusic as a whole

  • The group was created in 2008 to bring a classical chamber music aesthetic to venues outside the traditional concert hall.

  • Not just a garage band with strings: they were all conservatory trained at the prestigious Juilliard School.

  • Even if you have never heard of yMusic, it is still likely you have heard at least one of its members perform. A shortlist of artists that individual members have worked or recorded with include Paul McCartney, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Paul Simon, Rufus Wainwright, The National, St. Vincent, Interpol, Björk, Arcade Fire, and Grizzly Bear. This doesn’t even include their works with MASS MoCA favorites Vampire Weekend, the Philip Glass Ensemble, David Byrne, and Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond (who will be returning to MASS MoCA for our Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival).

Next: its illustrious members!

Rob Moose

Rob Moose (violin, guitar, and viola)

  • Co-founder of yMusic

  • FreshGrass fan? Rob has performed with Emmylou Harris (who will be hitting the MASS MoCA stage this September)

  • A familiar Berkshire face:  Rob has graced the Berkshire Hills with his work with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at the Shed at Tanglewood and last summer he performed at MASS MoCA with Gabriel Kahane.

  • Shara Worden changed his life: Rob was studying at Columbia University for his master’s degree in American studies when Shara told him that British singing sensation Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) was looking for a guitarist. Rob took the gig, went on tour, dropped out of grad school, and began a career in music. “That whole experience,” he said in an interview with Strings Magazine, “changed my life in so many ways, and it’s brought me so many opportunities.”

CJ Camerieri

CJ Camerieri (trumpet, french horn, and keyboard)

  • Co-founder of yMusic

  • The family business: CJ’s father is a middle school band director, but that doesn’t mean dad cut him any slack. He would not give CJ any lessons until he could could read all of the notes on the treble and bass clef staves.

  • The National connection in a national election: In 2008, CJ’s trumpet solo in The National’s song “Fake Empire” was blasted to the universe on election night, as it was a part of Barack Obama’s election campaign.

  • Proudest accomplishment? CJ earned himself two Grammy Awards for his work on Bon Iver’s 2011 album Bon Iver, Bon Iver. He gave one of the awards to his parents.

Clarice_Jensen

Clarice Jensen (cello)

  • More than a musician: Clarice has held many jobs, including time spent as production coordinator and assistant to Björk.

  • World premiere woman: Clarice has performed the world premieres of Dimitri Yanov-Yanovsky’s Hearing Solution and Donald Martino’s Rhapsody.

  • TV famous: Clarice has performed on MTV Unplugged, The Oxygen Network, The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and Saturday Night Live.

Alex_Sopp

Alex Sopp (flute)

  • 30 Rock-n-Roller: Alex has worked as a musical coach on the set of NBC’s 30 Rock.

  • Bang on a Can love: Alex has performed as part of the renowned Bang on a Can Marathon (and if you want your own Bang on a Can Marathon, experience swing by MASS MoCA on August 2, for a six-hour boundary-busting festival finale).

  • Fortune’s favorite: Alex’s life was turned upside down when $40,000 worth of her instruments were stolen in New York City. They could have easily disappeared forever into the city of over 8 million people, but New York City Police reunited Alex with her beloved instruments just hours after they were filched. Needless to say: she was ecstatic.

Hideaki_Aomori

Hideaki Aomori  (saxophone, clarinet, flute)

  • Young success: At the age of 18, Hideaki released his recording debut, Young Man With a Horn. For this album he worked with jazz legend Sir Roland Hanna.

  • Broadway magical: Hideaki has spent time in the orchestra pit for the original New York run of Tony Award-winning Matilda: The Musical.

  • Degree fiend: Hideaki has bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in clarinet performance and his master’s degree in jazz saxophone.

Nadia_Sirota

Nadia Sirota (viola)

  • Hey! DJ: Nadia hosts a radio show on WQXR’s New Music radio stream, Q2Music, for which she was awarded the American Society of Composers’ Deems Taylor Award in Radio and Internet Broadcasting in 2010.

  • New York Times certified:  Nadia’s debut album First Things First (2009) was named a record of the year by the newspaper.

  • Master’s master: In 2007, Nadia became a member of the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music for its Masters Program in Contemporary Music Performance.

ymusic

The more you know! We’ll see you outside under the stars on Saturday, July 12, at 8:30pm, for a screening of The Measure of All Things, with live narration by Sam Green and live music provided by the talented and illustrious indie-classical ensemble yMusic. Tickets can be found here.

Posted July 9, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Film+Live Music, Music
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A Day in the World of Art Fabrication: Lee Boroson Edition

By Kelly Cave

Here at MASS MoCA we have an excellent team of art fabricators that assist artists in the creation and installation of their work. Depending on the size of the exhibition,  the museum may hire contractors and interns to provide an extra hand to the full-time fabrication staff. Currently, a fantastic rotation of interns is coming through to assist with the work of Lee Boroson. Boroson’s show will be installed in September, but there’s much to do before we’re ready for that. This particular piece of the exhibition is going to be a giant inflatable made up of thousands of circles that will fill part of our huge Building 5 gallery. Here is an inside look at how the sculpture is being constructed!

So far we have a couple thousand circles sewn in five different sizes. Here they are stacked according to size and pattern of holes cut out on the surface.
The Circles
To make a completed circle we first roll out some fabric and double it up. The fabric is a nylon similar to the material from which parachutes or tents are made. We then place templates of circles on the fabric and trace them with a marker. Next, we put a few pins in each circle to ensure that the two pieces of fabric stay together once the circles are cut out.
pinning
Once the circles have been cut out they are sent over to my good friend, Sergio the Serger. He is a crazy-fast sewing machine that cuts the fabric while making a sturdy seam along the edge. He uses five threads as opposed to a regular sewing machine that only uses two. If you’re interested, I suggest looking up what the inside of a serger looks like because it is very delicate and quite stunning.
sergio
After the circles have been sewn, de-pinned, stacked, and cut with the proper pattern of holes, they are ready to be sealed. We use a special spreadable mixture that’s placed along the outer seam to help fuse the circles together. Sometimes this step can be a little harsh on the sinuses so we like to use respirators as a precaution.
sealing
When the sealing has dried it is time for the final step, which is to put the circles together. We use the serger to make different clusters that build off of each other from large to small. In the photo below we have our confused interns sporting one of these clusters in its deflated state. Turns out you can’t blow up this inflatable like a balloon! 
finished product
Those are all the secrets that the Fab team is willing to give away at the moment, but make sure to get on over to MASS MoCA in the fall to find out what the final product will look like! Lee Boroson’s show will be in the Building 5 Gallery, beginning October 2014 and you can read more about it here. See you then!
Interns pictured: Keenan Cassidy (RISD), Georgia Costigan (MCLA), Barbara Gooding (RISD), Garcia Sinclair (RISD), Nafis White (RISD)

 

Posted June 18, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Artist Spotlight, BLOG, Exhibitions, Uncategorized
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Calling All Artists, North Adams Wants You!

By Eleanor Cook 

Policy Mic2

PolicyMic just announced what we’ve known all along: North Adams is one of the top US cities for young creatives. Where else can you find the largest contemporary arts center in America and many nearby cultural attractions, ready access to incredible natural beauty and outdoor recreation, amazingly affordable homes, studios, offices, and light industrial spaces, and a strong community of artists, all in the same package?

There are plenty of reasons for creatives to call North Adams home, and MASS MoCA’s Assets for Artists program is adding another: financial support and professional development for artists committed to building a creative practice in North Adams.  

Industrial BuildingArtist Bookshelves

This summer, we are thrilled to announce the Assets for Artists: North Adams Project. Artists selected to participate can receive artist-focused training, match money for investments in their creative enterprises, and seed funding to North Adams artists with special projects offering high impact  and visibility. We’re betting this can help lure and retain great artists in North Adams — and in the process, make North Adams an even more vibrant place to live and work.

We invite artists to apply in two categories: those already living or working in our hometown, and those who have yet to discover North Adams. We’re offering incentives and special programming for artists eager to put down roots in our hip little city.

Interested? Learn more about our North Adams Project here. The deadline to apply is July 15, 2014, so let us know how you envision your creative future in North Adams.

To learn more about MASS MoCA’s Assets for Artists program and to stay up
to date with the 200+ artists in our network across the Northeast, visit assetsforartists.org, find us on Facebook, and follow us @Assets4Artists on Twitter. You can email us at assetsforartists@massmoca.org.

Posted June 3, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Berkshires, BLOG
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Hardware 15% off for 15 Years

HARDWARE: the MASS MoCA Store and MASS MoCA by Design are having a store-wide, 15% off sale on May 24th in celebration of the museum’s anniversary. Everything in the stores will be 15% for the general public, and an additional 15% off for MASS MoCA members (who already receive a 10% discount on all purchases). Phyllis Criddle is the Retail Manager/Buyer for  both stores and here she shares her picks for what you should look out for next time you’re at the museum.

wastebaskets

These adorable little plastic bins are ready to gobble up your garbage!  16” tall and designed in Denmark, they are available at both Hardware and MASS MoCA By Design. $36 each. Choose from black, green, blue, or pink.

earrings

These fabric button earrings are designed and made by local artist Emily Morris. No two quite alike, we have plenty of styles and colors to choose from! Only $9 each, available at Hardware.

hats

Direct yourself here! Our new baseball hats feature the exact GPS coordinates of MASS MoCA embroidered on the front, and “MASS MoCA” on the back. Available in both red and black. $30 each.

peacock book

The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock by Bill Peet is a children’s picture book about fitting in… It is for sale at Hardware in honor of Darren Waterston’s work Filthy Lucre, which features several breathtaking golden peacock paintings. $8.95. Paperback.

madspots

Madspots are large, round, reusable stickers which can be used to decorate your house and car with fun and distinction! Designed by Meredith Alex from Portland, ME. Choose from a variety of available colors and patterns at Hardware. Each pack contains 12 spots of assorted size stickers. $32.

bunny hat

This unique pink bunny mask was made by Huck Delsignore from Pittsfield, MA. It is crocheted yarn over a wire frame, with an adjustable baseball hat base inside for comfort. A one-of-a-kind, truly spectacular piece of work. $320 and available at Hardware. Additional one-of-a-kind masks by Huck are available.

Posted May 21, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Hardware, MASS MoCA by Design, North Adams, Staff, Uncategorized
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