A new festival of new music will come to Philadelphia next fall. The October Revolution of Jazz and Contemporary Music will feature four days of experimental music and avant-garde jazz, immerse audiences in “deep listening.”
“Deep listening” is a concept that comes out of experimental music circles, wherein listeners are encouraged to concentrate on sounds without distractions. The Philadelphia presenting organization Ars Nova Workshop has been programming new and sometimes difficult music since 2000, and this will be its first attempt to create an annual festival.
“The groups Ars Nova has been presenting for 17 years now are pretty broad. The music takes many shapes and forms,” said founder and artistic director Mark Christmas. “We want to present the intersection of all this work under one umbrella, and create an opportunity for people to engage it all in a more dense way.”
Christman will present 18 performances in four days, at the FringeArts building on the Philadelphia waterfront. It will be a far cry from pop festivals like Lollapalooza or Coachella with people hawking merchandise and social causes.
“There aren’t distractions. The music and the artists are the most important to us. The festival-goers are buying into that,” said Christman. “They are there to hear the work, respect the work, and get a listening experience out of this.”
Christman is still lining up the expected 18 acts for the four-day event. So far he has commitments from several artists including the Art Ensemble of Chicago, longtime jazz experimenter Anthony Braxton, flutist Claire Chase, and the Sun Ra Arkestra — which will perform its 1973 album “Space is the Place” in its entirety.