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Asphalt Orchestra Gives Flash Performance

New York’s street and marching band serenade construction workers and students

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The iconoclastic Asphalt Orchestra brightened an otherwise gray day Friday (April 12) when the 12-member New York marching band showed up on campus for an impromptu noontime “flash performance.”

The orchestra -- in Evanston to perform at the Bienen School of Music’s “Side by Side -- Exploring Musical Connections” Spring Festival -- surprised a group of construction workers near the site of the new lakefront Music and Communication Building before putting smiles on the faces of students, faculty, staff and passers-by lunching in Norris University Center and walking on the south end of campus. Band members also took time to autograph a steel beam that will soon be part of the new building.

Comprised of brass, percussion and winds, the ensemble is known for its innovative music with parade-worthy choreography by MacArthur Genius grant recipient Susan Marshall. The Asphalt Orchestra operates as part of the renowned Bang on a Can collective and premiered at the 2009 Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival in New York.

What makes this edgy group different is that they wear casual street clothes rather than typical marching band uniforms and they prefer to play new music rather than conventional band tunes by John Philip Sousa, William Latham or Henry Fillmore. They also like to refer to themselves as a “neo-marching band.”

The ensemble will perform their indoor program at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 12, in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. The group’s Chicago area debut at Northwestern University includes a supermix of music, including Ken Thomson’s arrangement of Tatsuya Yoshida’s “Star Planina,” Stephanie Richards arrangement of Tom Ze’s “Ma,” and Goran Bregovic’s “Champagne.” It also will feature new music by ensemble members as well as Peter Hess’ arrangement of Frank Zappa’s “Zomby Woof,” Thomson’s arrangement of “Two Ships” by David Byrne (Talking Heads) and Annie Clarke (St. Vincent), and pop maven Bjork’s “Hyperballad.” Tickets are $18 for the general public and $10 for students.

For more information, call the Pick-Staiger Concert Office at (847) 491-5441 or visit To order tickets call the Pick-Staiger Ticket Office at (847) 467-4000 or visit

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