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Ecstatic Music Festival 2016

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Ecstatic Music Festival 2016 Recap

Posted on April 12, 2016 by Merkin Hall

Merkin Concert Hall thanks all the performers, composers, audience members, remote listeners, and New Music USA followers who made the 2016 Ecstatic Music Festival® so spectacular! From January 29 to March 19, the Festival presented nine remarkable concerts that celebrated collaborations between musical artists from across the sonic spectrum. More than 55 artists from contemporary, pop, rock, experimental, folk, and classical backgrounds participated in this year’s Festival, creating truly revolutionary evenings of music.

Man Forever and Tigue opened the 2016 Ecstatic Music Festival in a concert presented by Q2 Music at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC and WQXR. The next week, Pharoahe Monch and PitchBlak Brass Band performed in the first of eight concerts at Merkin Concert Hall. On the days of our Yo La Tengo/Alvin Lucier and Lee Ranaldo/Dither concerts, the Bushwick-based flea market Rock n’ Shop took over the Merkin Concert Hall lobby and invited the public during the day and Festival ticketholders at night to peruse and buy hand-printed clothing, artisanal food, original artwork, and rock-inspired jewelry. MATA also co-presented an Ecstatic Music Festival concert featuring Exceptet and Goldfeather—watch “Greasy Glass” from this concert above!

By the time the Festival closed with M. Lamar, Charlie Looker, and Mivos Quartet, it had drawn more than 2,300 audience members to explore new music. In addition, our partner Q2 Music brought the sounds of the Festival to listeners everywhere by posting full concert audio for on-demand streaming and presenting live webcasts of three concerts—Bang on a Can People’s Commissioning Fund Concert, Rachel Grimes/Longleash, and William Tyler/Quindar/Nick Hallett—as part of WNYC’s New Sounds Live® series. Visit http://www.wqxr.org/#!/series/ecstatic-music-festival-2016/ to listen and relive some of the best moments of the 2016 Ecstatic Music Festival!

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Ecstatic Music Festival/New Sounds Live webcast tonight!

Posted on March 17, 2016 by Merkin Hall

Visit http://Q2Music.org tonight at 7:30pm for a New Sounds Live live stream of the Ecstatic Music Festival 2016’s concert featuring William Tyler, Quindar, and Nick Hallett! WNYC’s John Schaefer will host.

 Tonight at Merkin Concert Hall, composer/guitarist Tyler, the members of Quindar (art historian James Merle Thomas and Wilco’s Mikael Jorgensen), and eclectic composer Hallett will present an evening of new compositions to accompany films by the great West Coast/Americana polymath musician/artist/filmmaker Fred Engelberg. Engelberg’s folk records, experimental films, and documentaries showcased Los Angeles visual artists, 1960s counterculture, religious cults, and fringe activist groups, all reflecting the political and cultural complexities of the postwar American experience. To prepare for this Ecstatic Music Festival/New Sounds Live event, Tyler, Quindar, and Hallett spent time at the University of Southern California, where Engelberg’s archives live, and immersed themselves in Engelberg’s work. Audiences will get to hear their musical response performed alongside some of Engelberg’s many unreleased short and documentary films, being restored and seen for the first time in nearly 40 years. Q2Music listeners can hear these compositions and enjoy commentary from host John Schaefer.

Ecstatic Music Festival 2016 Press

Posted on March 16, 2016 by Merkin Hall

Check out some of the press for the 2016 Ecstatic Music Festival!

Rolling Stone joined us for the Yo La Tengo/Alvin Lucier concert and called it “compelling,” “stimulating” and “great fun.” Read their full review at http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/yo-la-tengo-charm-challenge-at-offbeat-ecstatic-music-fest-show-20160218.

Pharoahe Monch told The Guardian, “I had always been looking to do something like this. The guy who is in charge [of the Ecstatic Music Festival] just presented to me how different the setting is – and the venue – from what’s normal with hip-hop. So I was like: cool.” Read the full interview at http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jan/27/pharoahe-monch-hip-hop-classical-ecstatic-music-festival-new-york.

The Guardian also praised the Festival as “New York’s premier showcase for classical music hybridism” in their review at http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/feb/18/yo-la-tengo-and-alvin-lucier-review-avant-garde-triumph-with-teapot.

New York Classical Review picked the Yo La Tengo/Alvin Lucier concert as a critic’s choice and recommended it “for those who enjoy the pleasures of the unexpected.” Read their profile at http://newyorkclassicalreview.com/2016/02/critics-choice-25/.

There are two more chances to get Ecstatic this year! Join us for William Tyler, Quindar, and Nick Hallett on Thursday or for M. Lamar, Charlie Looker, and Mivos Quartet on Saturday!


(Pictured: Alvin Lucier and Yo La Tengo performing “Heavier Than Air.” Photo by David Andrako.)

Man Forever and Tigue: The Walled Garden

Posted on March 10, 2016 by Merkin Hall

Watch WQXR’s video of Man Forever and Tigue performing “The Walled Garden” in the Ecstatic Musical Festival’s 2016 kickoff concert at The Greene Space!

This concert was presented by Q2 Music at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC and WQXR.


The 2016 Ecstatic Music Festival® brings together innovative musicians from radically different genres to collaborate on and present revolutionary concerts unlike those heard anywhere else. Featuring nine concerts presented primarily at the acoustically-renowned Merkin Concert Hall from January-March, the Festival includes world premieres created through unusual pairings, existing works reimagined, and compositions by one artist for a peer in another genre. By showcasing artists from across the sonic spectrum, the Festival draws culturally and ethnically diverse audiences to experience boundary-breaking music.

Artists savor the Festival’s opportunities for creating unconventional musical works and performing them not in an offbeat performance space but in a celebrated concert hall. Percussionist Susie Ibarra, a 2014 Festival artist, said, “The festival offered us a unique opportunity to step out from our comfort zones and co-create a new possibility.” Curated by Judd Greenstein, the 2016 Festival features nine concerts presented at 7:30pm at Merkin Concert Hall except where noted:

  • Percussion project Man Forever helmed by John Colpitts (aka Kid Millions) and avant-pop band Tigue (January 29; co-presentation with Q2Music at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC and WQXR, and featuring a live video webcast on Q2Music.org);
  • Rapper/singer Pharoahe Monch (Troy Donald Jamerson) and hip hop brass group PitchBlak Brass Band (February 4);
  • Bang on a Can People’s Commissioning Fund Concert* featuring work by Caroline Shaw, Gabriella Smith, Zhang Shouwang, and René Lussier (February 6);
  • Pianist/composer Rachel Grimes and piano trio Longleash* (February 10);
  • Pioneering indie rock band Yo La Tengo and seminal composer Alvin Lucier (February 17);
  • Sonic Youth founding member Lee Ranaldo and experimental electric guitar quartet Dither (March 2);
  • Brooklyn-based septet Exceptet and neo-old-timey band Goldfeather (March 13);
  • Rock guitarist William Tyler, Quindar (featuring art historian James Merle Thomas and Wilco’s Mikael Jorgensen), and eclectic composer Nick Hallett* (March 17); and
  • Composer/countertenor M. Lamar, Extra Life and Zs founding member Charlie Looker, and new music ensemble Mivos Quartet (March 19).

In addition, a special Ecstatic Music concert took place in fall 2015 at Spectrum and featured Face the Music, Kaufman Music Center’s youth ensemble dedicated to music by living composers, and contemporary pianist Kathleen Supové.

The Festival’s inventive programming and affordable tickets ($25 per concert, with discounts of up to 50% for students and subscribers) are once again drawing young club-goers to a new type of venue and encouraging seasoned concert hall listeners to try different sounds. Thousands more experience the Festival through its partnership with New York Public Radio, which posts all concerts for on-demand streaming at Q2Music.org and present three concerts (marked with *) on WNYC’s New Sounds Live® series hosted by John Schaefer for live webcast on Q2Music.org and delayed broadcast on WNYC. Artist service organization New Amsterdam Presents returns as a presenting partner, providing rehearsal space and other resources for Festival artists and promoting concerts via e-blasts and social media.

Project Media

“Rockets and Jets”
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This video from the opening night of the 2014 Ecstatic Music Festival demonstrates the type of collaborative performance that the Festival is celebrated for as Indie trio Hospitality joins with the Pannonia Quartet, part of Kaufman Music Center’s Face the Music ensemble, to perform Hospitality’s “Rockets and Jets.” The concert took place on January 31, 2014 at The Greene Space in New York City. Face the Music will return to the Ecstatic Music Festival in 2016 in a collaboration with an artist to be announced.

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Behind the Wallpaper (excerpt)
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Among the highlights of the 2015 Ecstatic Music Festival was the New York premiere of vocal/electronic composer Alex Temple’s song cycle “Behind the Wallpaper,” written for and performed by experimental pop singer-songwriter Julia Holter and the Spektral Quartet chamber ensemble (Clara Lyon, violin; Austin Wulliman, violin; Doyle Armbrust, viola; and Russell Rolen, cello). The performance took place on February 25, 2015 at Merkin Concert Hall.

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Contemporary pianist Kathleen Supové, who is under consideration as an artist for the 2016 Ecstatic Music Festival 2016, demonstrates her powerful piano playing in this performance of Randall Woolf’s “Battery,” performed with Le Train Bleu Ensemble (Ransom Wilson, conductor). Supové will tentatively partner with techno DJ and producer Jeff Mills, known as “The Wizard” in the 2016 Festival.

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Start and End Dates



New York, New York

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Last update on April 12, 2016

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New York, New York
Since its first season of presenting concert series in 1982, Merkin Hall has established itself as one of New York City’s premier destinations for contemporary music. A leading presenter of new music, Merkin Hall nurtures and promotes emerging musical talents, supports the creation of new work, and engages a wide range of audiences in the…

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Brooklyn, New York
Gill, Massachusetts


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