The record release party for Efterklang’s Magic Chairs was undoubtedly the most unique and inspiring I’ve seen in recent memory. Held at the Clark Studio Theater at Lincoln Center, the event featured Efterkids, six musically gifted students ranging in grades 6-8 from PS 859, the Special Music School, in New York. Efterkids performed two songs, “Natural Tune” and “Full Moon,” from Magic Chairs. Efterklang’s performance was a special session that had been recorded previously in Copenhagen, and was projected onto a 20-foot high screen behind the kids as they played their stringed instruments in tandem.

Jerry Korman, the music director at the National Dance Institute, was the conductor of the Efterkids orchestra. “This was amazing for us,” said Korman. “We rehearsed for about two weeks, but one of the girls just joined yesterday after someone else dropped out.” Korman, a musical child prodigy himself who studied under Tchaikovsky in Russia, has worked with several symphony orchestras in the U.S., and has conducted at Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center.

Even though Efterklang was not physically in attendance, band members Skyped in briefly to talk about the project, as the band is keen to raise awareness of the importance of music education in schools. Rasmus Stolberg, bassist, said via Skype, “We are so, so excited about the Efterkids project. For all of us, the only music education we had was in public school.” To the Efterkids, he added, “You are really cool kids! We’ve all seen you rehearse on video, and you sounded really, really good – I’m sure you’ll take down the house!” In noting that it was the day of the worldwide release of Magic Chairs, the band members opened a bottle of champagne in celebration while still on Skype.

The Efterkids project was the idea of Adam Farrell, the director of marketing at 4AD, and was a collaborative effort with the band. “Efterklang wasn’t a band that we were really familiar with,” said Farrell. “Our first experience of seeing the band perform live was a video of them performing with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra (with around 50 members). It blew us away, and seeing them pull off something on such a grand scope told us that this is an important, special band, not just your typical ‘we’ll go out and tour’ band. The next time we saw them, it was the same thing with a video of their performance at the Barbican in London with the Britten Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra.”

“With the band being in Copenhagen, the logistics made it difficult to pull off something on the same scale here. So what we decided to do to create a live event here was have the kids [from the Special Music School] perform a couple of songs along with a video the band recorded in January especially for this.”

The performance was filmed and will eventually be made available online where viewers will be asked to make a donation to the school in order to view the film and download the tracks, for which the audio recording will be released as a special EP. “The thought was that we could hopefully give back to music education programs here in New York,” said Farrell. “The donations will go directly to the school for computers and the arts program.”

“It’s kind of a special thing,” Farrell remarked. He added, “The Special Music School is the only program in the country that does a Russian-style, conservatory style where the kids are educated in the traditional math, English, science, history and everything, but they also spend hours every day studying music. It’s a unique program, with public (New York Dept. of Education) and private funding, though the music program is entirely privately funded through grants, and both public and private donations.”

“Personally for me, and many of the artists we work with at the label, we all grew up in bands in school. It’s an opportunity to hopefully raise some awareness for the need to keep that. Every year the amount of funding going to music education dwindles, and if we’re not supporting the arts, were not creating another generation of artists.”

Farrell and Efterklang are hopeful that with the buzz from all of this, they will be able to use the power of the internet to spread the idea worldwide. He added that the band has already received a request from a school in Boston to have an Efterkids event there. “It’s already taken a life of it’s own, so we’re hoping it just builds, and it seems like we’re off to a pretty good start.”

Efterklang will premiere four other 4AD session videos (but without Efterkids) online on February 24. The band’s U.S. tour (with Austin band Balmorhea supporting) commences in Philadelphia on March 2, and will perform at Le Poisson Rouge in New York on March 3. –Teresa Sampson, Photo by Teresa Sampson

“Magic Chairs” is out now on 4AD

  1. It is a great article… though I must say I highly doubt Korman studied under “Tchaikovsky himself” as Tchaikovsky died in 1893.


    Teresa Reply:

    @Lara Daniels,

    Thank you, Lara. The article certainly could have been better worded with “studied at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory,” but it does not read “studied under Tchaikovsky himself.” Rather, the word “himself” was used to point out that Korman had also been a musically gifted child.


    zabatay Reply:

    @Teresa, the response should be stop cracking my nuts or busting my balls.


  2. The event was fantastic and the students really shined. Your ace reporter Teresa wonderfully captured the event’s awesomeness.

    Here’s a video of the event:


  3. [...] Efterklang, Daniel Bjarnason, Sam Amidon at Le Poisson Rouge – [...]