The Butchershop Quartet

The Butchershop Quartet

The Butchershop Quartet’s “fierce rendition” (The New Yorker) of The Rite of Spring finds common ground between early 20th century classical music and 21st century progressive rock. The harmonies, textures, and rhythms have—consciously or not—been incorporated into contemporary music by adventurous rock musicians from around the world.

Though the orchestral work has been fleetingly addressed by a number of different musical groups throughout contemporary music history, The Butchershop Quartet is the first band to successfully reduce the full orchestral score to fit the instrumentation of the classic rock quartet: two guitars, bass and drums. While retaining as much compositional integrity as possible the group’s “muscular and cerebral performance affords appropriate urgency and power…their sure-handedness makes for a thrilling, jarring ride” (Boston Phoenix).

When The Rite of Spring debuted in Paris on 29 May 1913, little thought was given to the long-term influence the piece would have on the future of classical and popular music. This did not prevent a dynamic and controversial premier; as the lyrical melodies crashed into brutal rhythms and combined with the shuffling, pigeon-toed ballet choreography of Vladimir Nijinsky, divisive strife erupted in the audience, resulting in a full-scale riot between supporters and detractors. While subsequent performances were quieter, the piece gained notoriety that catapulted Stravinsky to international fame as a master composer while assuring the work’s place in the canon of musical masterpieces.

In 1993, inspired by the piece’s sweeping majesty, subtleties of harmony, dynamics and brute force, DePaul University music students Rob Bochnik and Dylan Posa began working on simplified distillations of a few movements from the first half for guitar, bass and drums. As Bochnik (guitar, The Frames, The Swell Season, Nad Navillus) and Posa (drums, Cheer Accident)juggled personnel changes and commitments to other groups the project temporarily stalled. New life was breathed into the project when the two were introduced to Dan Sullivan (guitar, Songs: Ohia, Nad Navillius, Arriver) and Rob Sullivan (Songs: Ohia, Arriver). The complete four-part arrangement was finished in 2001 and has been performed across the East Coast and the Midwest—including an informal collaboration with the Joffrey Ballet. A recording was made at Electrical Audio Recording in Chicago, Illinois in 2001 and 2002.

After both Rob Bochnik and Dylan Posa left Chicago, two new members, Nathaniel Braddock (guitar, Ancient Greeks, Occidental Brothers Dance Band International) and Dan Sylvester (drums, Nad Navillius, Neil Hagerty), joined the group to continue performing the Rite as well as other pieces. The Butchershop Quartet’s original version of The Rite of Spring was released in March 2004 to coincide with a series of performances in collaboration with choreographer Julie Atlas Muz as part of the 2004 Whitney Biennial in New York City. Upon completion of the performances and a tour the group reconvened at Electrical Audio Recording to capture their updated rendition. Engineered by Greg Norman, the tapes sat until late 2012 when Bochnik, newly returned to Chicago, set about mixing them with plans to release them in conjunction with a few select performances celebrating the 100-year debut performance of Stravinsky’s musical masterpiece.

“The BSQ attacks the piece with the skill of trained musicians and the aggression of committed rockers, playing it whole, without irony. This interpretation isn’t just admirable, it’s accurate, which is to say it’s as invigorating and jarring and creepy and inspiring as the usual arrangement" (Chicago Reader).

Gorgeous old-world cabaret collides with modernity in this unique Brooklyn-based ensemble. Barbez wrings elements of Eastern European folksong, post-war classical, and experimental rock into an otherworldly soundscape. With: Dan Kaufman, guitar; Danny Tunick, vibes, marimba; Peter Hess, clarinets, percussion; Lily Henley, violin; Peter Lettre, bass; John Bollinger, drums.

“The music of Barbez conjures an imaginary place full of narrow, crooked streets that are paved with ancient, damp cobblestones. The Brooklyn-based ensemble looks to Eastern Europe for inspiration and its expansive rock draws on such composers as Brecht, Schnittke, and Satie. But Barbez is firmly lodged in the present. Its original compositions capture the angst, joy, and strangeness of life in the twenty-first century.”–The New Yorker

Kid Millions/Jim Sauter Duo

John Colpitts (aka Kid Millions) is a Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist, composer and writer who is perhaps best known as the drummer for Oneida. Man Forever, his vehicle for exploring the outer limits of drum performance, was created to overwhelm, to investigate the nuances that bloom in the midst of repetitive music, and to act as a pure sound experience.

Although perhaps best for his work with the "avant-jazz" group, Borbetomagus, Jim Sauter has collaborated and recorded with many musicians including Rashied Ali, Beaver Harris, Norbert Moslang and Andy Guhl of Voice Crack, Dennis Palmer and Bob Stagner of The Shaking Ray Levis, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, and Rudolph Grey.



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