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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

10 Facts About Alarm Will Sound

By Robert Wood

Alarm Will Sound sounds

There's a reason that New York Magazine called Alarm Will Sound the "seal team six of new music": they're creatively fearless, they're up to any technical challenge, and we can only assume that they'd look svelte in Navy-issued diving gear. The members also have tons of personality and individual talents, which go far beyond being able to play Steve Reich and John Adams exceedingly well. Here are ten things you might not know about the group and its crack musicians, who play the BAM Harvey Theater in September as part of Nonesuch Records at BAM.

1. Sometimes, they play in exotic locales, like beneath the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

2. Composer Steve Reich, whose Radiohead gloss Radio Rewrite Alarm Will Sound will be performing at BAM, has called them the premiere large ensemble for new music in the United States.

Conductor Alan Pierson working with Steve Reich. Photo: Michael Clayville

33.Conductor Alan Pierson majored in physics at MIT, where he developed a new algorithm for modeling planetary system dynamics. The rest of the group is big-brained as well, including an MFA in theater, a Ph.D in music theory, a bounty of MMs and DMAs, and six award-winning composers. 

Conductor Alan Pierson brain work good. Photo: Michal Ramus

4. Alarm Will Sound horn player Matt Marks digs Whitney Houston. Here he sings his acapella medley of three of her hits, including "All The Man That I Need”:

5. Alarm Will Sound members often arrange music that isn't by Whitney Houston as well, including seemingly impossible-to-play electronic music. Notable arrangements have included Edgard Varèse's Poème électronique, an album's worth of music by Aphex Twin, and the Beatles' White Album head-scratcher "Revolution 9":

6. Conductor Alan Pierson and Managing Director Gavin Chuck came up with the name Alarm Will Sound after noticing an exit door while working out at the gym. Rejected names included Ear Chow, Earful, Walls Have Ears, and Feed Your Ears.

Egads!!!! Don't go out that way!!

7. Alarm Will Sound courts funky company. On February 6 in Boulder, CO, they'll play a show with master purveyors of jam-band groove music Medeski, Martin & Wood.

8. Violinist Caleb Burhans was called "New York's mohawked Mozart" by Time Out New York (he got a haircut before shooting the below video). He's a member of seven bands and new-music groups in New York; sings countertenor; has received composition commissions from Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress, and Lincoln Center; and just released his debut album on Cantaloupe Records.


9. They aren't afraid to get their instruments wet:

Wassermusik. Violinists Caleb Burhans and Courtney Orlando, performing with Alarm Will Sound at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo: Stephanie Berger

10. They’re unabashedly patriotic:

Hear Alarm Will Sound play the music of Steve Reich, Tyondai Braxton, Donnacha Dennehy, and John Adams as part of Nonesuch Records at BAM on September 12 and 13.

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