October 8th, 2012 , by John Beeler
Many thanks to those who ventured uptown to the modernist caverns of Lincoln Center to partake of the new ballet Year of the Rabbit by Justin Peck. The Friday premiere had a fun and feisty vibe (six curtain calls). Mike Atkinson did some fierce wrangling with the orchestra. And the dancers were heroic. Congrats to all. There’s one more performance this Saturday, Oct. 13. Student rush tickets ($20) are available on the day of the show, while supplies last. See you there.
October 2nd, 2012 , by John Beeler
Happy Holidays! On November 13, 2012, Asthmatic Kitty will release (another!) Christmas box-set extravaganza by Sufjan Stevens—Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10, a compilation of 5 EPs recorded between 2006 and 2010.
Expanding on the tradition of the first box-set (Songs for Christmas, Vols. 1-5 from 2006), Silver & Gold is a generous document of five more years of holly-jolly jubilee undertaken by Sufjan and his various musical cohorts. Originally intended as gifts for family and friends, these musical snapshots have been re-mixed and re-assembled in an exquisitely-designed gift box containing all the Yuletide pleasures money can buy: Christmas stickers, temporary tattoos, lyric sheets and chord charts, a paper ornament, an apocalyptic pull-out poster, photos, illustrations, and extensive liner notes—a veritable Christmas feast for the eyes and ears.
The album features collaborations with a running line-up of friends and musical peers, including Aaron and Bryce Dessner (The National), Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Cat Martino (Sufjan’s right-hand woman on all things Age of Adz), Sebastian Krueger (Inlets), Gabriel Kahane, Vesper Stamper, and members of Danielson (Daniel, Elin, Lilly, and Ida). Sufjan’s indelible aesthetic maintains the album’s center of gravity, resulting in an abundant compilation (nearly 60 tracks) that investigates the canon of devotional hymns and holiday pop songs with reckless abandon (totaling nearly three hours of music).
Silver & Gold will be available in digital download, and as a CD box-set containing:
1. Five CD EPs (Gloria, I Am Santa’s Helper, Christmas Infinity Voyage, Let It Snow, Christmas Unicorn)
2. Christmas stickers
3. Temporary tattoos (non-toxic & safe for children)
4. A paper ornament (self-assembly with directions)
5. An apocalyptic pull-out poster
6. Song lyrics and chord charts (sing along with your friends and enemies)
7. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design (by Sufjan Stevens, drug-free since 1975)
8. Extensive liner notes (essays by Sufjan Stevens and Pastor Vito Aiuto)
Silver & Gold will be available in a big and beautiful, limited-edition LP gift-box containing the following (due to elaborate manufacturing, release date pending):
1. Five EPs on 6 vinyl discs
2. Christmas stickers
3. Temporary tattoos
4. A paper ornament
5. An apocalyptic pull-out poster
6. A 40-page Christmas songbook with vocal and piano reductions
7. A Christmas coloring book
8. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design
9. Extensive liner notes
Both the CD and vinyl boxset will be available at your local record store.
Read more info about the boxset here.
You can also preorder a special version of the Limited Edition Boxset, which will include some extra holiday gifts shipped before Christmas. Do that on Bandcamp here (available to US/Canada/EU subscribers only please).
September 19th, 2012 , by John Beeler
Selections from Sufjan Stevens’ electronic album “Enjoy Your Rabbit” are featured in a new ballet by up-and-coming choreographer Justin Peck. “Year of the Rabbit” will premiere Oct. 5 at New York City Ballet, programmed with new works by Benjamin Millepied (“Black Swan”) and Christopher Wheeldon (The Royal Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet). Conductor and arranger Michael Atkinson has expanded the quartet adaptations of this music from Osso’s “Run Rabbit Run” for string orchestra. Selections for this non-narrative ballet for 18 dancers will include Year of the Ox, Rabbit, Tiger, Rooster, Dragon Boar, and The Lord. There will be two matinees on Oct. 6 & 7 and a final evening performance on Oct. 13. The ballet will also appear in the winter season next year (January 29 & 30 and February 1 & 2). Tickets are available from the NY City Ballet website.
Sufjan also joins Peck and Aktinson for the Guggenheim’s Works & Process series on Sept. 23 & 24 (at 7:30) in the Guggenheim Theater, where a string quartet will play excerpts from the ballet, with principal dancers performing. Participants will also discuss the odd evolution of Sufjan’s electronic hobby project- composed and recorded in an apartment closet- from the drum machine to the ballet theater. Tickets are no longer available for this event (the theater only seats 285) but the Guggenheim website has a link for live streaming.
You can read about Justin’s previous ballet “In Creases” from the New York Times review here, and learn more about this young dancer/choreographer’s work with the city ballet here has a link for live streaming.
March 22nd, 2012 , by John Beeler
Sufjan Stevens is collaborating with good friends/old haunts Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly to create a song-cycle loosely based on the planets. The trio will be performing their work in just a few select venues, accompanied by a trombone choir, string quartet, and drums/percussion/drum machine (played by the indefatigable James McAlister). Selections from the song-cycle will be “live workshopped” at Music Now festival in Cincinnati on March 30. Official performances are scheduled in Eindhoven, Amsterdam, London, and Sydney. More details here. Performances in Europe will be preceded by short string quartet works by each collaborator, including two selections from Sufjan’s Run Rabbit Run project.
No other performances for this project have been scheduled and all dates are sold out except Amsterdam, April 8th. Last chance to see cosmic history happen here.
October 25th, 2011 , by John Beeler
Beyond This Place is a powerful new film about fatherhood and forgiveness directed by Kaleo La Belle. The film follows Kaleo as he connects with his estranged and perpetually-stoned father on a 500-mile bicycle tour of the Pacific Northwest. It’s currently screening in select theaters across the US. More info here.
Listen and download to the title track from the score, by Sufjan, Ray, and Vesper:
July 19th, 2011 , by John Beeler
Precious stones abound! Sufjan has recruited two diamond acts to open his shows for Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park. The regal and righteous My Brightest Diamond will open August 2 while the glamorous dance-pop Diamond Rings will open August 3. Add these two musical gemstones to Sufjan’s diamond disco helmet (pictured above) and you get a Triple Diamond Threat! Crystal Power Healing Pop Sensation!
These two shows also mark the grand finale of the Age of Adz tour, a pop-theatrical pageant that has spanned time–zones, political boundaries, and language barriers with its eye-candy choreography (fearlessly executed by back-up singers Cat Martino and Nedelle Torrisi) and vivacious video display (by the indefatigable Deborah Johnson, whose work for the show renders the art of Royal Robertson in fantastic animation). Did we mention double drummers, an LED light extravaganza, and kabuki streamers?
The final shows will expand the band to include woodwinds and will feature two more dancers (including choreographer Jessica Dessner). More is more! Bring Your Magic 8 Ball. Wear Your Dance Pants.
My Brightest Diamond just announced a brand new album due in October (info here), and Diamond Rings is still abuzz from the astounding success of his 2010 debut Special Affection.
Editor’s Note–we’ve just been notified by park officials: aforementioned balloons and confetti (and other perishables) are strictly prohibited on park property (it’s bad for the environment, understandably). But the production team is frantically scheming to bring party vibes by any means possible. Virtual Balloon Drop? Edible Confetti? Heat Lightning? Please, God, Give Us A Double Rainbow? As for the rest of us: Bring Your Magic 8 Ball!
Remember, this is a benefit show. Ticket sales ensure that most of the other shows remain free of charge. Bring a friend, bring an open mind, and find out why Gothamist named Celebrate Brooklyn “The #1 Reason Why Brooklyn Lives Up to the Hype.”
August 2 is sold out, but tickets are still available for August 3 here.
July 7th, 2011 , by John Beeler
You might recognize the art in the Sufjan-made stop-motion video above; it comes from Prophet Royal Robertson, who inspired not only Sufjan's The Age of Adz but also the documentary film MAKE. MAKE is available now on DVD for $15 here.
Sufjan is also playing one last big Adz show on August 2nd and 3rd in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. In addition to neon gaffe tape (bring it if you got it!), some non-balloon non-confetti partying devices, x-treme dancing, and sweat, expect to see some of projectionist Deborah Johnson's brilliant work at the show (ie. this amazing bit).
Show is general admission and standing room only (stand up if you love standing!). Bring a good 'tude and neon, because you can't Celebrate Brooklyn with a frown. Besides Celebrate Broolyn! is the number one reason Brooklyn lives up to the hype. Believe the hype. Tickets for the show are here.
June 23rd, 2011 , by John Beeler
June 21st, 2011 , by John Beeler
June 14th, 2011 , by John Beeler
Photo by Mattias Johansson
EDIT: preorder tickets go live today (June 15) at 10AM EST at Etix.
The Password is "heirloom" (without quotes): http://bit.ly/m7EqMI
You went and did it! Undeterred by swelter and sweat and mosquitos and rising crime rates in the surrounding area, you bought all the tickets to Sufjan's Celebrate Brooklyn! show in NYC's Prospect Park on August 2. Wow! Thanks so much!
And by business we mean tickets. Presale tickets for the second benefit concert go on sale tomorrow from 10AM-10PM EST (Wednesday June 15th) at Etix, and general admission tickets will go sale Friday the 17th on Ticketmaster right here.