Pianist Lara Downes, indie band Build to collaborate in two Mondavi concerts

By From page A11 | March 19, 2013

Lara Downes returns to Davis. Courtesy photo

Lara Downes returns to Davis. Courtesy photo


What: Pianist Lara Downes and the Brooklyn-based quintet Build

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, with a post-performance Q&A with the artists

Where: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

Tickets: $47 general, $23.50 students, www.mondaviarts.org, 530-754-2787

Pianist Lara Downes and the serious-minded, Brooklyn-based quintet Build — a band whose music has been variously characterized as “indie classical” and “post-classical” — will team up for two concerts at the Mondavi Center this week, at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre. The theater will be set up in the popular cabaret-style arrangement, with lots of small round tables, surrounded by four chairs.

The program is titled “Moving In Place,” with three basic components. Downes, on her own, will be playing some of the tracks from her recently released album on the Steinway label, “Exile’s Cafe.” Build — which consists of Matt McBane (violin/compositions), Andrea Lee (cello), Mike Cassedy (piano/keyboard), Ben Campbell (bass) and Adam Gold (drums/percussion) — will play some material from their albums. And then Downes and Build will mix things up a bit, both in terms of performing music together and screening videos they have created.

Downes, who has performed regularly at the Mondavi Center for several years and also organizes its Young Artists Competition, typically describes herself as a concert pianist; she also has pursued several interdisciplinary projects in recent years.

Build has performed at clubs, art spaces and concert halls throughout New York and across the country. Both in its make-up and music, Build is fundamentally a hybrid group. Since forming in December 2006, it has developed a body of work and a performance style that draw on minimalist chamber music, instrumental rock, modal jazz, American fiddle music, experimentalism and film music, reflecting McBane’s interests as a composer and the backgrounds of the band members.

McBane was born in 1979 and raised in Southern California; he continues to spend part of each year on the West Coast, but is also well established in New York. In addition to writing music for Build, McBane has created new works for the Calder Quartet, which recently performed in Davis, and is the founder of the Carlsbad Music Festival in Southern California.

Build released its self-titled debut album on New Amsterdam Records in the summer of 2008 and in 2009 it was re-released with distribution from Naxos. It has received critical acclaim from both esteemed classical music critics and indie bloggers alike, including Bloomberg News’ Alan Rich, who praised its “skittery, unpredictable and utterly charming musical inventions.”

Build’s second album, “Place,” was released in 2011 on New Amsterdam Records with distribution by Naxos. It is an hourlong album whose tracks work both individually and collectively to create a cohesive dramatic arc across the entire album. “Place” uses a more sophisticated production that heightens the sound of the live band, brings out the core feeling of the individual tracks and creates at times a more tactile, more orchestral or more aggressive sound through the layering of tracks, processing of sounds, placement of mics, etc. The increased studio time that allowed production approach was funded in part by fans through a Kickstarter fundraising campaign.

Tickets are $47 general, $23.50 for students, available at www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787. A post-performance question-and-answer session with the artists will follow both the Saturday and Sunday performances.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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