Since 2006, the MusicNow Festival has hosted cutting-edge artists and musicians from around the world. Now in its 13th year, the festival will feature live music and artistic installations at several venues throughout downtown Cincinnati this weekend. Here are the top 5 reasons to attend MusicNow this year:
1. THE BREEDERS
Of the over 20 acclaimed indie rock bands performing this weekend, 1990s alt-rockers, The Breeders, are perhaps the most recognizable. In 2013, The Breeders, fronted by Kim and Kelley Deal, both Dayton natives who still make their home there, commemorated the 20th anniversary of their 1993 hit album, “Last Splash,” with a tour and a reissue of the album. Last month, they released “All Nerve,” their first album since 2008. The Breeders will perform on the West Stage at Smale Riverfront Park (100 Ted Berry Way) on April 28 from 5-6 p.m.
2. BRYCE DESSNER, AARON DESSNER, THE NATIONAL
Bryce Dessner, Founder and Artistic Director of MusicNow and guitarist for the acclaimed, Cincinnati-based indie rock band, The National, will be all over the place at MusicNow. He and his brother, Aaron Dessner, multi-instrumentalist and principal songwriter for The National, will perform as Red Bird Hollow during the festival’s Opening Celebration at the Cincinnati Masonic Lodge (317 E. 5th St.) on April 27. The opening celebration will also feature several other artists such as Lisa Hannigan, Spank Rock and Sam Amidon. Bryce will perform with The National on the West Stage at Smale Riverfront Park on April 28 from 9-11 p.m. Aaron and Bryce will also give a quick concert on the East Stage at Smale Riverfront Park on April 28 from 1-1:45 p.m. The National will play a second show, where they will perform their seminal album, “Boxer,” in its entirety, on the West Stage at Smale Riverfront Park on April 29 from 9-11 p.m. Finally, Bryce will join country punk rocker, Bonnie “Prince” Billy (a.k.a. Will Oldham) and Eighth Blackbird, a contemporary sextet comprised of flute, clarinet, drums, violin, cello and piano, to perform the works of Julius Eastman, Frederic Rzewski, and those of Billy and Dessner themselves at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (50 E. Freedom Way) on April 29 from 2-3:30 p.m.
3. RAGNAR KJARTANSSON
This contemporary Icelandic artist uses video, drawings, paintings and live performance in his work. Two of Kjartansson’s video installations are currently on display in the Schiff Gallery at the Cincinnati Art Museum and will be available for viewing throughout the festival. In “The Visitors,” eight musicians in different rooms of a manor house sing individual refrains that eventually merge into a single song. “Scenes from Western Culture,” has single-channel videos that play on a continuous loop, like moving paintings.
4. THE CINCINNATI BALLET’S “BOLD MOVES”
The Cincinnati Ballet will collaborate with acclaimed New York City dancer/choreographer, Justin Peck, to perform Bryce Dessner’s “Murder Ballades,” a set of seven instrumental ballads inspired by the American folk music tradition. There will also be world premieres by choreographer, Kate Weare (her first), and hip-hop/contemporary choreographer, Jennifer Archibald (her third). “Bold Moves” will be performed at the Aronoff Center for the Arts on April 26-29. Performance times are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20-$125.
5. CRASH ENSEMBLE
Ireland’s leading new music ensemble consists of ten instrumentalists and a conductor. They perform classical/contemporary compositions from international composers, including the Hollywood film composer, Phillip Glass. Their concerts incorporate lighting and video effects and sound amplification. At MusicNow, they will be performing “Schnee,” by the Danish composer, Hans Abrahamsen, at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on April 28 from 2-3 p.m.
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