British composer Cornelius Cardew worked alongside Karlheinz Stockhausen during the late ’50s, composed at least two avant-garde masterpieces, co-founded the famous improvising combo AMM, and eventually made an abrupt left turn to concentrate on Maoist ditties for the masses—all prior to losing his life at age 45 during a 1981 hit-and-run. Beginning at 11 a.m. at St. Paul’s Chapel, Mantra Percussion’s New York premiere of Cardew’s conceptual tour de force, The Great Learning, will take place over 10 hours, with more than 50 musicians playing at seven Lower Manhattan locations. Based on Ezra Pound’s translation of Confucian texts, each of Learning’s seven “paragraphs” establishes parameters for singers, percussionists, and instrumentalists to tune in or isolate themselves from fellow performers. Some paragraphs are meditative and mysterious, others explosive and disruptive. Consider it a festive theatrical allegory for our own fragmented era.

Thu., June 20, 11 a.m., 2013