David Byrne’s ‘Contemporary Color’

If any artist was going to collaborate with color guard teams, it would have to be David Byrne. The experimental musician and 10 of the finest North American teams are playing two major arenas this summer, along with a group of acts including St. Vincent, Nelly Furtado and Kelis.

Photo: Owen Sweeney / OwenSweeneyPhoto.com
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, Md.

“Color guards are, well, high school (and college-level) ‘dance’ groups who perform during half time at football games, and then compete amongst themselves later in the school year – usually in their school gymnasiums,” Byrne says. “They are, in my way of looking at them, a sophisticated folk art form that flies under the official cultural radar. … I think it’s a wonderful, peculiar, under-appreciated and very creative artform and that deserves to be seen and experienced – in a slightly different context, by a wider public.”

During a year-long collaboration, 10 teams from the U.S. and Canada each worked with an artist on new, original music for the upcoming performances that are being called “Contemporary Color.” The composers and the 20-40 person teams – which regularly use props including flags, rifles and sabres during their routines – will be joined on stage by a 15-piece band.

The “Contemporary Color” performances were dreamed up by Byrne and co-commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music and Toronto’s Luminato Festival, with support from WGI Sport of the Arts.

The Toronto shows take place June 22-23 at Air Canada Centre during the Luminato Festival. Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., hosts the unique event June 27-28.   

The artist lineup also features How To Dress Well, Blood Orange’s Devonté Hynes, and tUnE-yArDs. Plus, composer Nico Muhly and “This American Life” host/executive producer Ira Glass also worked together on new music.

An Internet presale is going on now. Additional presales are scheduled in the next few dates. Toronto’s general onsale is Jan. 26 and Brooklyn’s is Jan. 28.

For more information visit ContemporaryColor.com.