The infamous Ballet mécanique is coming to Washington, DC, but not in any way it’s been heard before. And it’s not going to be for just one performance…it’s going to be played over 30 times.

George Antheil’s 1925 masterwork, which was never heard in its original version (for 10 percussionists, two pianists, three airplane propellers, electric bells, siren, and 16 player pianos) until 75 years after its composition, will be presented on the mezzanine of the National Gallery of Art’s East Wing every day for over two weeks, starting on March 12. Performing it will be 16 computer-controlled player grand pianos and an orchestra played entirely by robots. This means it will be the fastest, most maniacal, and–thanks to the cavernous acoustics of the giant building–the loudest Ballet mécanique ever performed.

In conjunction with a huge exhibit on Dadaist art, which runs from now through May, the Music department of the National Gallery has commissioned a Ballet mécanique installation, which will be on display and performing from March 12 through March 29. The all-mechanical orchestra will be located on the mezzanine, next to the entrance to the Dada exhibit hall. At 1:00 pm (every day) and 4:00 pm (weekdays only), the orchestra will roar into action and play a 10-minute version of the piece.

Sounds like a field trip is in order. Maybe even a wordherder gathering, if enough people are interested.

[via Jerz]

UPDATE: There are three weekends in the time frame. According to the above, the orchestra plays at 1pm during the weekends (no 4pm show), so assuming that we go on a Saturday or Sunday, we could meet at around 12:30, see the orchestra, spend an hour or so at the exhibit, and then grab a late lunch/early dinner (or just drinks).

So, if you are interested, include in your comment which date(s) would be good for you:
Sunday, 12 March
Saturday, 18 March
Sunday, 19 March
Saturday, 25 March
Sunday, 26 March

We can also talk weekdays (maybe the 4 pm orchestra, an hour at the exhibit, and an early dinner) if that is better for those interested. I can take a few hours off from work early if that’s the case. Try to include what’s best for you in the comments.


4 Responses to Ballet mécanique

  1. Chuck says:

    I’m certainly interested as my comment at Dennis’s blog suggests.

  2. marc says:

    I’m in. Let me know when.

  3. marc says:

    Saturday the 18th for us.

  4. Matt says:

    We definitely want to go. Weekdays Thurs or Fri are best; weekends should all be open.

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