Curator’s notes: Tatsuya Nakatani Gong Orchestra

Join us for a Tone Madison-presented show on Sept. 8 at Art In.

Join us for a Tone Madison-presented show on Sept. 8 at Art In.


Photo by Peter Gannushkin.

Photo by Peter Gannushkin.

Tone Madison’s next show, featuring touring and local artists we’ve selected, is on September 8 at Art In. Here’s a few thoughts on why we picked the artists who are playing. Donors to our Patreon page receive discounted admission to these events. For information about other upcoming events, and tickets, go to Tone Madison Presents.

Tatsuya Nakatani has played Madison a handful of times in recent years, and always to a much larger and more diverse audience than you might expect for an experimental percussionist. The Pennsylvania-based artist has worked for more than 20 years in experimental music circles, developing a dizzying array of percussion techniques that are as harmonically and texturally rich as they are physically demanding. His solo sets use conventional drumkit elements as well as a host of other objects, including singing bowls played with a bow and small cymbals that he places atop his snare drum and blows through in order to produce keening and otherworldly fricatives. And of course, gongs, also played with bows (which Nakatani makes himself) to coax out rumbling but strangely beautiful drones.

When he comes back to Madison this Friday, Nakatani will play one of his solo sets, then he’ll be treating Madison to the mesmerizing and ambitiously conceived Nakatani Gong Orchestra. In the touring version of this project, Nakatani asks presenters in each city to round up 14 local musicians who show up the afternoon of the performance and learn his bowed-gong techniques. Not all the participants have to be percussionists, but he generally prefers that they at least be musicians.

The 2012 album Nakatani Gong Orchestra captures a few different versions of the project, recorded in five different cities. During those performances, the gong orchestra consisted of five players, creating layers of sound that feel massive and delicate all at once. With Nakatani leading 14 players, I can only imagine the performance here will prove even more powerful, more undeniably immersive and present, more otherworldly and complex.

We recruited a group of players from a variety of musical backgrounds, reaching out to some of the best percussionists we could think of in town and a few wild cards we figured would be game. It turns out it’s hard to wrangle 14 people with complicated schedules, so I’m really grateful for all these folks making the time and responding so enthusiastically. Their backgrounds range from rock to classical to jazz to the avant-garde. Here’s the roster so far:

Ian Adcock
DeLayne Doyle
Emili Earhart
Tessa Echeverria
Aaron Gochberg
Brian Grimm
Satoko Hayami
Dan Kuemmel
Alida LaCosse
Emily Mills
Grant Samuelsen
Juan Tomás Martínez
Scott Watson

So, the show will bring you into the world of the extraordinary Tatsuya Nakatani, but also celebrate the wealth of gifted musicians in Madison who were willing to try something new and challenging.

Don’t forget to also join us for the following shows (more announcements coming soon):

September 17: Willy Street Fair Culture Stage presented by Tone Madison. Corner of Williamson and Ingersoll Streets, noon, free, all ages.

September 24: Come visit the Tone Madison table at Gear And Beer Fest at the East Side Club.

October 14: Matt Jencik, Matchess, Auscultation. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 8 p.m., all ages, $10, presale available

October 26: Tom Rainey + Devin Drobka. Gates of Heaven, 8 p.m. all ages, $12, presale available

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