San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)

Bang on a Can presents Wolfe’s ‘Steel Hammer’

- — Joshua Kosman

The legend of John Henry, the “steeldrivi­ng man” who faces down the power of the steam drill, has long held an appeal for audiences and artists alike. With its climactic showdown between man and machine, the story is a perennial emblem of our fascinatio­n, and fear, where technology is concerned.

“Steel Hammer,” composer Julia Wolfe’s brilliantl­y clangorous 2009 oratorio, uses that material to create a richly charged meditation on folklore and its power. The vivid score alternates between sweettoned vocal harmonies and bursts of sheer industrial noise.

“Steel Hammer,” performed by the Bang on a Can AllStars with vocalists Molly Netter, Rebecca Hargrove and Sonya Headlam, comes to the Cal Performanc­es at Home series, in a newly created film version.

Bang on a Can All-Stars: Cal Performanc­es at Home. Available to stream starting 7 p.m. Thursday, May 6, through Aug. 4. $5$56. www.calperform­ances.org

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Cal Performanc­es

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