The Ecstatic Music Festival continued its run at Carnegie Hall on Saturday night when it presented Glenn Kotche of Wilco and Victoire who premiered works by Kotche, Missy Mazzoli and John Luther Adams. Mazzoli’s compositions have been nothing but excellent, powerful and thought-provoking, and Saturday night’s premiere of “Vespers for a New Dark Age” continued the stream of works by Mazzoli that leave you in awe.
The piece, as described by Mazzoli, is a product of “several chance encounters with amazing people.” Victoire were dressed in apparel specifically designed by Andrea Katz for this performance. Each member wore a long, silky and white dress which called to the theme of the piece and echoed its grandeur. Victoire was accompanied by Virginia Warnken and Martha Cluver, two Grammy Award-winning vocalists whose voices shook Zankel Hall with the haunting words of poet Matthew Zapruder. Glenn Kotche sat center-stage providing any percussion needed for the piece. A year in the making, “Vespers for a New Dark Age” presents a real, raw presentation of how people confront issues with technology, death and God. The piece holds a strong emotional connection to the listener that is undeniable alongside the poetry of Zapruder. I held my breath through each sonic build-up and transition hoping not to miss a note, letting out a huge breath of air once the music had slowed down—stunned, attentive and trying to perceive my own thoughts through the intensity of the piece.
The New York premiere of John Luther Adams’ “Ilimaq” was fiercely performed by Kotche, whose percussion skills were massively applauded after 48 minutes of an almost violent but passionate performance. The one-man percussion orchestra was sonically heightened by the digital delays that blasted through the speakers. Though we were underground, I am sure “Ilimaq” seeped into the New York City streets.