g l e n n b r a n c a

the ensemble
contact info
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  selected reviews
       Ascension re-release 2003
       England 1998
       Stockholm 1996
       Hallucination City June 2001 - Village Voice
       Hallucination City June 2001 - Slate
       Hallucination City June 2001 - Emily XYZ
       Hallucination City June 2001 - New York Times
       October 2001 interview - Los Angeles Times

In September 1996 The Glenn Branca Ensemble played at the opening ceremony for the Aarhus Festival in Denmark. The ceremony took place in the Musikhuset Opera House, and in the audience were the Queen of Denmark, the mayor of Aarhus, and other dignitaries. The show featured a variety of dance, theatre and music groups. In between a performance by a children's dance troupe, and a speech by the Queen, the Ensemble played a portion of the Passion (Symphony #8).

The following are excerpts from reviews of the Royal Command Performance. Thanks to Andreas for the translations.

Interview by Mette Frederiksen
If Margrethe had not been queen she would probably (as the rest of the audience) have put her fingers in her ears as the American avant-garde composer, Glenn Branca, made his contribution to the opening of the Festival in the Music House last Saturday.

Glenn Branca had hoped that someone would warn the queen so that she could discreetly put ear plugs in her royal ears. That did not happen. "I did consider offering her ear plugs myself, that would probably have been the most humane. But I was too vain to do that. Luckily,she didn't leave the hall. That would have been very humiliating" Glenn Branca said.

His experimental symphony of guitars played at maximum volume quickly made him the Festival's big subject of conversation. The reviews of the official opening Saturday afternoon was characterised by words such as "sound terror" and "apocalyptic inferno", whereas Branca and his ten guitar players the same evening in Univers received a more favourable reception by the audience. A few even chose to dance to the ten screaming guitars.

by C.F. Garde
Glenn Branca and his guitar ensemble made many of the audience cover their ears at the official opening of the Festival yesterday. However not mayor Thorlikd Simonsen, who is chairman of the committee of the Festival - or Queen Margrethe

Terrible Noise
...After this, a guitar orchestra entered the stage: The Glenn Branca Ensemble. An absolutely appalling noise or din, a torment that got most of the audiences to cover their ears. As a well-known business man said after the many minutes of horror: "Had it been in a factory, it would be bloody closed".

By Arne Vollersen
Somebody ought to have given ear plugs to Queen Margrethe before Glenn Branca and his electric guitar orchestra opened up for a true Hell of Noise during opening of the Festival last Saturday.

His orchestra played again at the large Univers Scene at Bispetorv both this evening and yesterday evening. But the noise apparently kept within the acceptable limit. According to the Police there has only been a single complaint about noise from the tent during this week. On the other hand, it came when Glenn Branca played.

By Anders Lange
If the art shall shake us and remind us of our existence, then one artist overshadowed the rest when Aarhus Festival no. 32 yesterday was officially opened by the Queen, the mayor, the sponsors: Glenn Branca and his ear-splitting ensemble.

Nine strident electric guitars broke the sound barrier in the proud Music House of Aarhus with a Wagner-ish reverberation. The echo will probably still sound when the fireworks are let off on New Year's eve of the Millenium. With a shabby eccentricity the conductor Glenn Branca whipped his host forth in an apocalyptic inferno that got an extra dimension by being located in the gloomy wings of "The Ring." An avant-garde rock composer has shaken Aarhus with his crossing of violin symphonic score music and aggressive guitars.

"Being a classic musician, I must say that I am trembling with rage. You had to cover your ears. it was extremely loud. You cannot create musical peaks when everything is in fortissimo," said the discontented Francesco Cristofoli afterwards. The retiring chief of opera was not alone in being shaken.

The Horns of Jericho
Branca's version of the Horns of Jericho was the big topic of conversation in an otherwise decent and quite predictable opening programme when Queen Margrethe officially opened the Festival. The reactions went from the the shocked to the anthropological interested. "At first it was impressive. But it kept going on and on," someone said afterwards.

After all, an opening that like it or not will be remembered for many years as the one where we got our "ears in the machine" (Danish expression for being scolded/getting into trouble]

Translation by Andreas Johannsen.