Seen and Heard at CalArts: The Asphalt Orchestra

On Wednesday afternoon, the raucous street band, the Asphalt Orchestra, stopped by CalArts’ campus for an impromptu performance/visiting artist workshop just outside of the Institute’s main entrance.

The New York City-based ensemble—a project of the Bang on a Can music collective—is making its West Coast-debut this week with free shows at Cal State Northridge last night and in Downtown Los Angeles today. They performed a short set of songs at CalArts that included Tatsuya Yoshida’s “Stara Planina”; Björk’s “Hyberballad” and Goran Bregovic’s “Champagne,” which was composed specifically for the orchestra.

Co-director and alto saxophone player Ken Thompson had served as a visiting artist for The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts a few years ago with another band, the Brooklyn-based jazz punk outfit Gutbucket. He worked with the Institute’s Lauren Pratt for the Asphalt Orchestra’s Santa Clarita detour this week.

Its members, including CalArts alumna and Orchestra trumpet player Stephanie Richards (Music MFA 08), stayed after the performance to answer questions from the audience.

The video, posted above, includes excerpts from Wednesday’s performance at CalArts.

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