Icebreaker IV: The American Future

The next generation of composers embraces pop culture at a weekend festival

Aside from being indispensable, what do Björk, The Economist, and our own Gavin Borchert have in common? They’re all fans of Alex Ross’ book The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, a simultaneously sprawling and intimate look at modern music. Ross, The New Yorker’s music critic since 1996, recently nabbed a National Book Critics Circle Award nomination in its criticism category—the man is in a league of his own when making music come alive (did you see him on Charlie Rose last week?!). For On the Boards’ “Icebreaker IV: The American Future” festival, Ross will give a half-hour discussion of his book (4:15 p.m. today), then will comment (at 7 p.m.) on the “World in Collision” program he personally curated, which includes five world premieres. “In so doing I’ll probably talk about the diversity of what composers have been up to since the 1960s and 1970s,” said Ross, “some returning to tonality and classical/romantic musical languages, others continuing the tradition of modernist experiment, many engaging with pop music and pop culture. I think the last element is particularly evident in the works of the composers I selected. Mason Bates works part-time as an avant DJ, Nico Muhly has done arranging work for Björk, Judd Greenstein grew up writing hip-hop beats, Alexandra Gardner and Anna Clyne are very versed in digital technology.” In other words, he’ll enable a heightened appreciation of the ear candy to follow. Kyle Gann hosts the Saturday night concert, including music by Janice Giteck, John Luther Adams, himself, and others, and Sunday (at the Seattle Art Museum) is devoted to Morton Feldman, with discussion by Ross and Gann from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and a marathon of eight Feldman pieces from 1:30-5 p.m. On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., 217-9888. 8 p.m. concerts $20, other events free. See for the full schedule Friday and Saturday, and for info about Sunday. KARLA STARR

Fri., Jan. 25; Sat., Jan. 26, 2008

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