By Jeremy Gordon
David Byrne has partnered with the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Toronto’s Luminato Festival to present Contemporary Color, an event centered around color guard performances. He's enlisted artists such as St. Vincent, Blood Orange's Dev Hynes, tUnE-yArDs, How to Dress Well, Kelis, and Nelly Furtado to compose music to accompany color guard teams from the United States and Canada. Contemporary Color will take place June 22 and 23 at Toronto's Air Canada Centre as part of the Luminato Festival, and June 27 and 28 at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, in partnership with BAM. Update: Beastie Boys' Ad-Rock and Money Mark, as well as Lucius, have been added to the lineup of composers.
If you're not familiar, color guard is a performance art where participants use military-themed props such as flags and rifles to perform a dance routine in synchronization with a marching band. (Or any piece of music, as you can see below.)
Additionally, Nico Muhly and "This American Life" host Ira Glass collaborated on a piece. Byrne composed a piece of music, too.
In a press release, Byrne says he was introduced to color guard in 2008, when he was asked to contribute a piece of music to a performance. Then, after watching a DVD of the performance, he was hooked. "I was stunned at what I was seeing," he writes, "and being a musician I naturally wondered to myself: what if these performances had really great live music? Wouldn’t that lift it to another level?"
He describes Contemporary Color as "the biggest glitter cannon show of your life."
Update: Watch a trailer for Contemporary Color, which is done as a fake high school news show: