Ashley Bathgate Plays Bang on a Can Plays Art

AshleyBathgate_byStephenTaylor

4:30 PM • Friday, July 31st 2015
MASS MoCA • North Adams, MA

American cellist Ashley Bathgate has been described as an “eloquent new music interpreter” (The New York Times) and “a rising star of her instrument” (Albany Times Union) who combines “bittersweet lyricism along with ferocious chops”(New York Magazine). Her “impish ferocity”, “rich tone” and “imaginative phrasing” (The New York Times) have made her one of the most sought after performers of her time. The desire to create a dynamic energy exchange with her audience and build upon the ensuing chemistry is a pillar of Bathgate’s philosophy as a performer.”  

Phew! For those who don’t know, Ashely Bathgate is originally from Saratoga Springs and
began her cello studies with the late Rudolf Doblin, principal cellist and assistant music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic in the 1950’s. After his passing, she resumed her tutelage with Ann Alton at Skidmore College. She then went on to study at Bard with Luis Garcia-Renart  and then at the Yale University School of Music with renowned cellist, Aldo Parisot. Not bad for a local girl.

With Bathgate’s adventurous spirit and “affinity to dynamism drives her to venture into previously uncharted areas of ground-breaking sounds and techniques and breaking the mold of a cello’s traditionally perceived voice,” it is not surprising that she would become a member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars. And this is what brings her to MASS MoCA on Friday as part of the annual Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival.

Drawing inspiration from the visual art on display in the galleries at MASS MoCA, Bang on a Can Plays Art showcases music that interacts with the art on various levels—stylistically, thematically, and whimsically.

Bang on a Can responds to the work of Clifford RossLandscape Seen & Imagined, an exhibit that documents Clifford Ross’s longstanding project to reconcile realism and abstraction. The exhibition takes place throughout two buildings, six galleries, and an exterior performing arts courtyard. Among other works, the exhibition includes a 24’ high x 114’ long photograph on raw wood that spans the length of MASS MoCA’s tallest gallery and an immersive installation of animated video on twelve separate 24’ high screens.

While this show is about acute observation and the leaps into abstraction that can happen with close viewing, it is also about the divergence between the world as we see it and as we imagine it might be.” —MASS MoCA Director Joseph Thompson.

Bang on a Can All-Stars’ cellist Ashley Bathgate plays a heartfelt program drawing from Australian composer Kate Moore‘s collection Stories for Ocean Shells. Moore was a composer fellow ten years ago at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA. The intricately hypnotic emotionality of Moore’s music has made her one of the composer stars of her generation.

Stories for Ocean Shells tells tales of travel, love, sadness and beauty – that one great story – the one known as life. The works symbolize a highly personal communication between two artists, one a composer, the other a cellist, from opposite corners of the world. Their lives collide, intersect and intertwine in strange and unexpected ways. This collection is their story told from afar like letters of memories, experiences, thoughts and yearning – seeking true honesty and through observation, a quest to see the world through vivid eyes.

Selections that Bathgate will be performing, and the composer’s notes for each, are:

  • Whoever You Are Come Forth

Written upon the words of Walt Whitman from Song of The Open Road. The poet, in search of transcendence, rejects materiality. It is a song about a lonely traveler. It is the journey of an individual through life along with all other individuals and their connection to each other through the Universal Soul.

  • Stories For Ocean Shells

This was written as a present for a little Thai girl. Her name meant Ocean Shells. She showed me [Moore] cloth whose patterns were skillfully woven in silk by hand. The patterns were so intricate and beautifully ornate, the cyclic patterns found in the cloth were reminiscent of those traced on the surface of a seashell, spiraling in ever expanding and contracting formations.

  • Broken Rosary

This was written for my grandmother who died the year I was born. She migrated from The Netherlands in 1960. All I have to remember her by is her rosary. When I was a child I accidentally broke this rosary and ever since I have been trying to fix it by stitching together my own family history and heritage.

  • Homage to My Boots

When I left home I bought a pair of Doc Martens boots. These boots symbolized my newfound freedom and liberation, stepping out into the unknown world where everything was possible.

  • Dolorosa

Written during lent upon the words of the Stabat Mater. The words are of great sadness where a mother mourns for the death of her child. This inconsolable grief comes at a time of letting one’s loved ones go.

  • Velvet

Inspired by the depiction of cloth in Renaissance paintings – movement, vitality and earthiness are captured and distilled within the frame and stillness of the painting. The shades of light and dark are emphasized by the lines and creases where the sun catches its outlines. Where the tactile fabric is inverted, shadows are made darker by the turgid grottos and canyons carved into the tectonic landscape of its folds.

Bathgate’s program is about an hour and, for the most part, is solo cello. In some cases, Bathgate will be using pre-recorded tracks of herself along with live electronics to create new versions of some of the pieces—written for other instrumentation—for only the cello. For the piece entitled Dolorosa, Guitarist Mark Stewart and David Cossin on vibraphone will join in.

This sounds absolutely fascinating and clearly the environment in which the program will be performed plays an important role. And what a better place to spend the day in such a hot, humid week than MASS MoCA!

Hope you can go Bang on a Can! You’ll hear, see, experience the work of our cellist from Saratoga … all grown up and forging her own exciting musical path!

Upcoming Events

  • WMHT “No Ticket Required”: Windham Festival Chamber Orchestra performs Bartók
  • WMHT-FM (Radio Broadcasts), Troy (NY)
    Friday, July 31st 2015 at 1:00 pm

  • Seagle Music Colony: “Into the Woods”
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    Friday, July 31st 2015 at 2:00 pm

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  • MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA
    Friday, July 31st 2015 at 4:30 pm

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    Friday, July 31st 2015 at 7:00 pm

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  • Fisher Center, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504
    Friday, July 31st 2015 at 7:30 pm

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  • Alice Busch Opera Theater, Springfield Center, NY
    Friday, July 31st 2015 at 7:30 pm

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    Friday, July 31st 2015 at 8:00 pm

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  • Alice Busch Opera Theater, Springfield Center, NY
    Saturday, August 1st 2015 at 8:00 pm

  • Seagle Music Colony: “Into the Woods”
  • Oscar Seagle Memorial Theatre, Schroon Lake, NY
    Saturday, August 1st 2015 at 8:00 pm

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