Magazine article The New Yorker

All for One

Magazine article The New Yorker

All for One

Article excerpt

All for One

David Lang's "The Public Domain" seeks common ground.

Several hundred volunteer singers will celebrate five decades of Mostly Mozart.

For classical composers, a consistent style, along with the musicianship to support it, is the guarantor of a sustained career. But the mastery of David Lang, whose style blends elements of postminimalism, modernism, and conceptualism, is of an unusual sort. Making his music from tenderly spun-out fragments of scales, he sometimes invites inanity (as in "Simple Song #3," written for the Paolo Sorrentino movie "Youth"). When the conditions are right, however, the poverty of his material can bloom into an austere kind of sonic, and expressive, richness: he has a genius for maximizing the potential of negative space.

Two years ago, Lang wrote "Crowd Out," a composition for, as his Web site states, "1000 people yelling." The raucous piece, which was premiered by England's Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (with a little help from their friends), had a trace of violence to it, partly inspired by the scream-songs chanted at English soccer games. Now comes "The Public Domain," a work for "1000 singers," commissioned for the fiftieth anniversary of Mostly Mozart, which will be performed as a free event on Lincoln Center's Josie Robertson Plaza, on Aug. …

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