What’s that racket? 24 straight hours of music at

Eighteen acts, both soloists and ensembles, will perform in an uninterrupted stream of long-tone music during the 24-Hour Drone, which starts at noon Saturday and ends at noon Sunday. The site is Basilica Hudson, a former industrial space near the riverbanks on Front Street in Hudson. Intrepid audience members are encouraged to bring mats, blankets and provisions, though food and drink will be available for purchase. Ticket holders will be allowed to stay for any duration of time. This is one concert where falling asleep will not be a faux pas. 

         “We’re depending on the people in the room contributing to what’s happening in the music,” co-curator Sarah Van Buren said. “We’re going through an ordeal and there will be healing moments as we sleep and dream together.”

         For many listeners, a drone may evoke slow moving and hushed sounds and “sonic meditation” is one way Van Buren described the event. Yet she has assembled a diverse array of composers and sound artists who are mostly young and edgy and not likely to fade into any kind of wallpaper of sound. 

“Part of the dialogue and the fun is starting a conversation on what does drone include. Individuality is a central part of it and we’re highlighting artists from marginalized communities,” she said.

Most sets will last one hour, while a few artists are allotted three-hour stretches. Resetting the stage for each new act will become part of the performance as the incoming artists improvise their way into the sound of the departing act, all to sustain the long continuity of sound.

“Drone is outside of time, and we can get lost inside of it in a beautiful way,” said Van Buren, who also produces raves. She views drones and raves as coming from the same source, the ancient practice of “sustaining a sonic environment and collaborating through music.”

         Notable on the rooster is Raven Chacon, a composer, instrumentalist and installation artist who last year won the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Other performers include the composer and electronics artist Yuka C. Honda, who led the 1990s band Cibo Matto, the sitar and tabla duo Veena and Devesh Chandra, and the Balinese percussion ensemble Gamelan Dharma Swara. In one of the participatory segments, vocalist Lisa B. Kelley is going to lead “The Heart Chant” by the late Pauline Oliveros.

         Singer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Seretan will be part of a quartet improvising on strings, percussion and electronics. He isn’t too concerned that they’ve never performed as a group and points to the importance of community.  “Before COVID, I couldn’t get enough rehearsal time, but more important now is hanging out and being friends. Working out the music is secondary to the bond. We’ll walk the tightrope together,” he said.

         This will be the sixth 24-Hour Drone at the Basilica since 2015. Seretan, who recently joined the venue’s administrative staff, believes the space contributes to the music and sometimes in some unexpected ways.  “Two train lines go right by all the time and that becomes part of the counterpoint,” he said.

         The 24-Hour Drone starts at noon on Saturday at Basilica Hudson, 110 S. Front St., Hudson.  Tickets are $113.30. Find out more on 24-Hour Drone at:  basilicahudson.org.


         The summer opera season is almost here and our two local companies are busy preparing their first seasons under new leadership.  Mary Birnbarum began just months ago as general and artistic director of Opera Saratoga, which opens Friday, June 30, with the musical comedy “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” followed the next night by the opera buffa “Don Pasquale.”  Both shows, plus a children’s piece by Clarice Assad, will play in the troupe’s new home, Universal Preservation Hall. 

In Cooperstown, Robert Ainsley is the new boss at the Glimmerglass Festival, which kicks off Friday, July 7, with “La Boheme.” Among the four mainstage shows, there seems to be a real buzz about Handel’s “Rinaldo,” the first Baroque opera at the festival in a number of years.  Though it doesn’t open until Aug. 6, one of the six performances is already sold out.

Rest assured that I’ll be reporting lots more about what’s in store from each outfit in the near future.  For now, I’m turning the spotlight to some additional operatic offerings happening soon in the region.

Boston Early Music Festival will be back in the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Mass., after a COVID break with a new production of the chamber opera “Alcina” by Francesca Caccini (June 23-24). When the work debuted 400 years ago Caccini performed the title role of a sorceress.  A colleague of Monteverdi in the Medici court, she is remembered as the first woman to write an opera. 

The Berkshire Opera Festival must be expecting large crowds for its new production of “La Boheme,” since they’ve left the Mahaiwe and are back in the larger Majestic Theater in Pittsfield for a three-performance run (Aug. 27-Sept. 1).

The Seagle Festival in Schroon Lake will be as busy as ever with a couple of musicals plus operas old and newish: Gounod’s “Romeo and Juliette” (July 5-8) and “With Blood With Ink,” a 2014 piece by Daniel Crozier and Peter Krask about the 17th-century Mexican nun, Juana Inés de la Cruz (Aug. 2-5).

Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson marks the 20th anniversary of the still shiny Frank Ghery-designed Fisher Center with a production of Saint-Saens’ “Henry VIII,” another landmark revival led by conductor Leon Botstein with the American Symphony Orchestra (July 21-30).

Finally, the Opera Company of Middlebury, Vt., is about a two-hour drive from the Capital Region but it’s been on my radar ever since I unknowingly missed its production of Andre Previn’s “Streetcar Named Desire” a few years ago.  This year, I may finally get there since the 20-year-old troupe is taking on Beethoven’s only opera “Fidelio” (June 2-10).  According to artistic director Douglas Anderson, his staging can’t help but have contemporary references since the story is about political prisoners and based on actual events happening in Beethoven’s time.  The production has a cast of 35 performers plus full orchestra and all that in a 232-seat house.  I love the company’s new slogan:  Small State, Big Opera. 



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