When Red Bull Music Academy brings its month-long festival back to New York City from April 29-May 22, a few bold face names will quickly get a lot of attention:
Director Spike Lee will engage in a conversation with journalist Nelson George on the iconic musical moments in his films; ANOHNI will bring her anticipated new album, "Hopelessness," to life for the first time in two spectacular shows at the Park Avenue Armony; Kamasi Washington, the virtuoso sax player, will perform with Pharoah Sanders and the Sun Ra Arkestra; Eddie Palmieri, the Latin soul pianist and bandleader, will revisit his classic album "Harlem River Drive;" and a trio of Atlanta’s celebrated hip-hop producers — 22-year-old Metro Boomin, 25-year-old Sonny Digital and Zaytoven — the elder statesman at age 36, will participate in Beatmakers Roundtable.
But the Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York — now in its fourth year — brings more than just cutting edge music and artists to the city. Among its missions, the festival mines the diversity and heritage of New York’s musical and cultural landscape and reveals how those deep-running influences are continuously revisited and reinvented by contemporary musicians and artists in an endless morphing cycle and conversation.
Epitomizing that focus: the staging of three symphonies by the avant-garde composer Glenn Branca. In the early 1980s, Branca began writing booming compositions for an orchestra of guitars. Early performers included Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth and Page Hamilton of Helmet, among others who would later go on to wider fame.
For Branca’s May 16 performance at Red Bull Music Academy Festival NY, he will be joined by an all-star ensemble of guitarists, old and young, at the Masonic Temple of Manhattan. It will be loud — and because of the logistics involved in bringing together such an acclaimed field of musicians in a suitable arena, the performance will be a truly rare opportunity to hear these pieces in concert.
Exploring the opposite end of the musical spectrum from Branca, two events in Brooklyn will revel in electronics. On May 7, the Bunker, the influential electronic music force, will collaborate with Dekmantel, the Amsterdam-based promoter, on a party at the Good Room. And May 14, Technopolis will put the focus on several exciting new artists coming out of Brooklyn. Untethered to Berlin or Detroit techno, these artists, such as Umfang, Volvox, Max McFerren, DUST and others, are busting through a new style of music that blends the past with future-forward vision.
Curated dance parties have also been a focus each year at the festival. This year, there will be two big ones. The first will be dedicated to freestyle, a sound that dominated airwaves in the 1980s, and will feature club legends Louie Vega and Jellybean Benitez with special guest vocalists. And the festival will close May 22 with a block party dedicated to the music of gospel house, exploring the deep connection between transcendent music and transportive messages. The entire calendar of events is listed below.
Tickets go on sale March 24 at nyc.redbullmusicacademy.com.
Red Bull Music Academy Festival NY 2016 Lineup
April 29: KIKI - A Film by Sara Jordenö and Twiggy Pucci Garçon (NYC premiere) with LSS performance and music by Qween Beat @ El Museo del Barrio
April 30: Beatmaker Roundtable: Trapped with Metro Boomin, Sonny Digital and Zaytoven @ Red Bull Studios New York
April 30: Trapped: Metro Boomin, Sonny Digital and Zaytoven take their productions to the club.
May 2: A Conversation with Spike Lee: the director talks to Nelson George about iconic musical moments in his films @ SVA Theatre
May 4: Experiments in Art and Technology Salon: Bell Labs engineers get together with NYC artists to capture the spirit of the fabled E.A.T. Salons of the '60s @ Red Bull Studios New York
May 6: Dizzee Rascal: "Boy in Da Corner" Live, the genre-defining grime album get performed in its entirety
May 7: The Bunker x Dekmantel with Juju & Jordash, Joey Anderson, Palms Trax, Antenes, Clay Wilson, Bryan Kasenic, and Dekmantel Soundsystem @ Good Room
May 8: Kamasi Washington, Pharoah Sanders & The Sun Ra Arkestra
May 10 & 12: Diamanda Galás @ 258 West 118th Street, Harlem
May 12–15: Mark Pritchard x Jonathan Zawada: The Album Under The Sun @ Red Bull Studios New York
May 13: Freestyle!!! with Jellybean Benitez, Louie Vega, and very special guests
May 14: Brooklyn Flea Record Fair @ Smorgasburg
May 14: Technopolis with Galcher Lustwerk, Anthony Naples, DUST, Aurora Halal, Ital, Via App, Umfang, Volvox, Max McFerren, Bookworms
May 16: Glenn Branca's Symphonies @ Masonic Hall NYC
May 18 & 19: RBMA & Park Avenue Armory Present ANOHNI: HOPELESSNESS @ Park Avenue Armory
May 20: RBMA & New Museum Present NON: Legacy Systems with Chino Amobi, Nkisi, Angel-Ho @ New Museum
May 20: Inter-Zone: NON vs N.A.A.F.I with N.A.A.F.I, Elysia Crampton, Rabit, Gaika, Scraaatch
May 21: Eddie Palmieri’s "Harlem River Drive" Revisited
May 22: Last Night a DJ Saved My Soul with Floorplan, DJ Pierre, Ann Nesby of Sounds of Blackness, Joubert Singers, Terrence Parker, Kenny Bobien, Slow To Speak, Budgie and more. UPDATE: Output, 74 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn.