San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)
Bang on a Can presents Wolfe’s ‘Steel Hammer’
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