Coming up in Philly music: Anthems for Big Bling

Martin Puryear's 'Big Bling' sits by Kelly Drive. (Photo via the Association for Public Art.)

What would you produce if somebody asked you to compose music inspired by a 40-foot whatsit?

The Network for New Music has commissioned three composers to create new pieces in response to the work of Martin Puryear, the sculptor who gave us Big Bling, the outdoor construction temporarily adorning Kelly Drive. The new works will premiere at the Print Center, where Martin Puryear: Prints, 1962-2016 is on view through November 18 (here’s a BSR look at the exhibition). This concert is part of the Network’s long-term exploration of the relationship between music and the visual arts.

Puryear is a veteran American sculptor who works with smaller forms as well as big installations. He is noted for his interest in materials, and his pieces frequently suggest subjects drawn from life without actually depicting a particular object. The three composers could draw their inspiration from a gallery he’s been assembling for more than fifty years.

The new pieces will premiere alongside a one-movement 1968 string trio by American composer Charles Wuorinen. Wuorinen’s trio is structured like an Indian raga, and it’s probably the only string trio in the entire history of Western music that critics have dubbed “massive” and “monumental.”

Network for New Music has presented some of the most satisfying concerts I’ve attended in the last few years. Its musicians are all local lights who’ve honed their talents playing older fare with organizations like the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Nobody can guarantee you’ll like everything they play, but you’ll probably encounter surprises that will make you glad you took the gamble.

The Network for New Music will present Network at The Print Center: Puryear Connections on November 12 at 3pm at the Print Center, 1614 Latimer Street, Philadelphia. Tickets ($20 general; $15 for seniors; $10 for students) are available online and at the door.

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