Bang On A Can All Stars are a six-piece ensemble accustomed to performing in venues around the world from the Sydney Opera House to The Brooklyn Academy of Music. The celebrated group is making a pit stop in 'lil old Santa Ana, but they won't be playing in a concert hall. Thanks to the handiwork of Santa Ana Sites, a traveling music forum that places contemporary artists in unexpected spaces, the group will perform Brian Eno's Music for Airports in a gaming arena in downtown Santa Ana. The event kicks off on Monday, October 26 at 7:30 p.m. inside the eSports Arena.
Several iconic musicians have cited Eno's work as an inspiration, and the composer and Roxy Music co-founder has collaborated with industry heavy hitters including David Bowie and Bono. Music for Airports was originally recorded in the late 70's using tape loops, but Bang On A Can All Stars will bring Eno's music to life using live percussion, strings, and keys.
Allen Moon is the director and creative force behind Santa Ana Sites, and shares that Music for Airports, in any incarnation, is meant to transport the listener into another realm. The upcoming Bang On A Can All Stars show marks the 10th installment of his traveling art forum, and will offer traditional seating inside the eSports arena. Attendees also have the option to upgrade to stage side, beanbag chairs to enhance the experience.
"I think Eno's work as an artist extends beyond being a composer or a producer to mega bands. He's also a prolific visual artist and a bit of a philosopher," Moon says. "He has stayed relevant from the early days of Roxy Music until now."
The venue for Moon's newest SAS event is a 15,000 square foot space that's touted as the first dedicated gaming facility in North America. The eSports Arena hosts video game competitions and viewing parties, but organizers will remove the gaming stations throughout the interior and give Bang On A Can All Stars free reign over the facility's stage.
The performance will mimic Eno's work, sliding through moods and exploring various soundscapes. Transferring the ambient album to sheet music was no easy feat, and the arrangements were largely written by Bang On A Can All Stars' artistic directors. Julia Wolfe is among those directors, and the 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winner for music shares that the project eventually reached Eno himself.
"After we set things into motion we reached out to Brian, but we never heard back," Wolfe said over the phone from her New York office. "We went ahead and recorded the CD. At some point he did hear the piece. He wrote us a three page, very beautiful letter explaining that he listened to it at sunrise. He was filled with emotion and it meant so much to get that response from him."
The newest installment of Santa Ana Sites is undeniably layered, but it has the potential to reel in ambient purists, classical enthusiasts, and millennial music junkies looking to expand their average concert experience. If all of the elements align, this could be Moon's most interesting venture yet.
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"Music for Airports was important and profound to a large group of people. Bringing a group like Bang On A Can All Stars to Santa Ana to perform arrangements from such incredible composers is really exciting. Throw in the fact that it's in a gaming arena and it takes it to a whole new level."
Bang On A Can All Stars perform Brian Eno's Music for Airports at the eSports Arena, 120 W. 5th St. Santa Ana 92701. www.esportsarena.com. Monday, October 26, 7:30 p.m. $15 in advance. For tickets or more information on Santa Ana Sites visit www.santaanasites.com.