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Michael Gordon’s Anonymous Man, Performed by The Crossing

Reflections of home and the homeless inspired by a changing Lower Manhattan


Composer and Bang on a Can co-founder Michael Gordon returns to EMPAC with his new choral work, Anonymous Man. Scored for 24 unaccompanied voices, this hour-long piece expands on Gordon’s architectural approach to composition, layering minimalistic swirls of vocal sound on top of one another to create a hypnotic group incantation.

Taking inspiration from his neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, Gordon says, “When I moved into my loft on Desbrosses, the streets were empty, since few people lived there. But both then and now, there were the homeless. Over time the neighborhood changed from an industrial warehouse district to a residential area. Anonymous Man is a memoir about my block. The piece is built around my memories of moving in, meeting my future wife for the first time there, and conversations I have had with two homeless men who made their home on the loading dock across the street.”

Performing this tour de force is the Philadelphia-based choir The Crossing. Conducted by Donald Nally, The Crossing was formed by a group of friends in 2005 and has dedicated itself to expanding the contemporary choral music experience through commissions, collaborations, community, and performances that are characterized by a distinctive unity of sound and spirit. The Crossing has been hailed as “superb” by The New York Times, “ardently angelic” by The Los Angeles Times, and “something of a miracle” by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The performance will take place in the world class Concert Hall of the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY on Thursday, March 22, 2018.

Michael Gordon and The Crossing will be in residence in the Concert Hall March 20 – 24, 2018 to record Anonymous Man for future release. EMPAC seeks New Music USA’s support to fund this ambitious recording residency, which will bring 28 artists to upstate New York for five days, including London-based producer Adrian Peacock.

Since 2008, EMPAC has enabled over 30 album releases by American contemporary composers and/or ensembles. EMPAC strives to cultivate artistic excellence over commercial success, liberating artworks from quantitative objectives and metrics (such as ticket sales), and similarly freeing our audience from the transactional expectations of art-as-entertainment. Each EMPAC project is an attempt to step out of a known and familiar artistic context, moving the cultural paradigm by degrees toward an ethic of adventure and becoming.

Project Media

The Crossing: Anonymous Man, mvmt 3 — One Day I Saw (Michael Gordon)
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Conductor Donald Nally leads The Crossing choir in a 2017 rehearsal of Michael Gordon’s new work, Anonymous Man.

Rushes excerpt (Michael Gordon)
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With one of the most unorthodox ensembles imaginable, Michael Gordon culminates a recording residency at EMPAC with the world premiere of a new work for seven bassoons. Best known for music driving rhythmic intensity and power, Gordon explores interweaving texture and timbre of a surplus of double reeds.

The Rushes ensemble includes bassoonists Rachael Elliott, Michael Harley, Lynn Hileman, Dana Jessen, Jeffrey Lyman, Saxton Rose, and Maya Stone. The work was performed at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center on September 15, 2012.

The Crossing: Her Beacon-Hand Beckons (Caroline Shaw)
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Features: The Crossing

From “To The Hands” 2017 CD release.

Start and End Dates



Troy, New York

Project Created By

Troy, New York
EMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is where the arts, sciences, and technology meet under one roof and breathe the same air. Four exceptional venues enable audiences, artists, and researchers to inquire, experiment, develop, and experience the ever-changing relationship between our senses, technology, and the worlds…

In Collaboration With

New York, New York
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


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