Concert III

The JACK Quartet
with
Tony Arnold, soprano
Thiago Ancelmo, clarinet

Saturday, October 04, 2014, 7:30pm
Riverside Recital Hall (map)

 

Program

 String Quartet (1931)
    I. Rubato assai
    II. Leggiero
    III. Andante
    IV. Allegro possible
   Ruth Crawford SEEGER (1901 – 1953)
 like morning (2012-14) †
      for soprano and string quartet
     
I.
      II.
   Josh LEVINE (b. 1959)
   with Tony Arnold, soprano  
 
— Intermission —
 
 
 Lus in Bello (2014)    Carolina HEREDIA (b. 1981)
   with Thiago Ancelmo de Souza, clarinet  
 String Quartet No. 3 (1971)    Elliott CARTER (1908-2012)
 † world premiere    

 

Performers

The JACK Quartet

The JACK QUARTET electrifies audiences worldwide with "explosive virtuosity" (Boston Globe) and "viscerally exciting performances" (New York Times). David Patrick Stearns (Philadelphia Inquirer) proclaimed their performance as being "among the most stimulating new-music concerts of my experience." The Washington Post commented, "The string quartet may be a 250-year-old contraption, but young, brilliant groups like the JACK Quartet are keeping it thrillingly vital." Alex Ross (New Yorker) hailed their performance of Iannis Xenakis' complete string quartets as being "exceptional" and "beautifully harsh," and Mark Swed (Los Angeles Times) called their sold-out performances of Georg Friedrich Haas' String Quartet No. 3 In iij. Noct. "mind-blowingly good."

The recipient of Lincoln Center's Martin E. Segal Award, New Music USA's Trailblazer Award, and the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, JACK has performed to critical acclaim at Carnegie Hall (USA), Lincoln Center (USA), Wigmore Hall (United Kingdom), Suntory Hall (Japan), Salle Pleyel (France), Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ (Netherlands), La Biennale di Venezia (Italy), the Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), Bali Arts Festival (Indonesia), Reykjavik Arts Festival (Iceland), Festival Internacional Cervatino (Mexico), Kölner Philharmonie (Germany), Donaueschinger Musiktage (Germany), and the Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik (Germany).

Comprising violinists Christopher Otto and Ari Streisfeld, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Kevin McFarland, JACK is focused on the commissioning and performance of new works, leading them to work closely with composers John Luther Adams, Derek Bermel, Chaya Czernowin, James Dillon, Brian Ferneyhough, Beat Furrer, Georg Friedrich Haas, Vijay Iyer, György Kurtág, Helmut Lachenmann, Steve Mackey, Matthias Pintscher, Steve Reich, Roger Reynolds, Wolfgang Rihm, Salvatore Sciarrino, and John Zorn. Upcoming and recent premieres include works by Wolfgang von Schweinitz, Toby Twining, Georg Friedrich Haas, Simon Holt, Kevin Ernste, and Simon Bainbridge.

JACK operates as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the performance, commissioning, and spread of new string quartet music. The quartet has led workshops with young performers and composers at Princeton University, Yale University, Harvard University, New York University, Columbia University, the Eastman School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, June in Buffalo, New Music on the Point, and at the Darmstadt Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik.

The members of the quartet met while attending the Eastman School of Music and studied closely with the Arditti Quartet, Kronos Quartet, Muir String Quartet, and members of the Ensemble Intercontemporain.

 

 


Tony Arnold

The Chicago Tribune writes, “anything sung by soprano TONY ARNOLD is worth hearing.” Hailed by the New York Times as “a bold, powerful interpreter,” she is recognized internationally as a leading proponent of new music in concert and recording, praised for her sparkling and insightful performances of the most daunting contemporary scores. Since becoming the first-prize laureate of the both the 2001 Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition (NL) and the 2001 Louise D. McMahon International Music Competition (USA), Ms. Arnold has collaborated with the most cutting-edge composers and instrumentalists on the world stage, receiving consistent critical accolades for a voice of beauty and warmth, an uncanny technical facility, sterling musicianship, and a riveting stage presence. “Simply put, she is a rock-star in this genre” (Sequenza 21).

Tony Arnold is the soprano of the intrepid International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and with them has premiered over 25 new works written expressly for her voice. In 2013-14, Ms. Arnold will make her debut performances with Ensemble Modern in a new work by Beat Furrer. Her appearances with US ensembles have included Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW, Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Talea Ensemble, Ensemble 21, eighth blackbird, Contempo, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, New York New Music Ensemble, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Fulcrum Point, and many others. She has toured the US extensively as a member of the George Crumb Ensemble.

A frequent guest artist at international festivals on four continents, Tony Arnold was featured at the 2008 Darmstadt International Music Festival, the premier contemporary music venue of Europe. This year, she returns to the Cervantino Festival (Mexico) in music of Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. With violin virtuoso Movses Pogossian, she has taken György Kurtág’s monumental Kafka Fragments to more than 40 venues across the world, including the Tongyeong International Music Festival (Korea), and the Perspectives XXI Festival (Armenia). Every summer, Ms. Arnold sings and teaches at the soundSCAPE Festival in Maccagno, Italy. In 2014, she will return to the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival to premiere a new work by Australian composer Brett Dean, commissioned by the festival for Ms. Arnold and the Orion String Quartet.

Tony Arnold is one of the most recorded singers of contemporary music, with more than two-dozen discs to her credit on labels including Bridge, Naxos, New Focus, and Mode. Her recording of George Crumb’s Ancient Voices of Children (Bridge) was nominated for a 2006 Grammy Award. Other notable releases include a CD/DVD set of Kafka Fragments (Bridge); Messiaen’s epic song cycle Harawi (New Focus) with pianist and long-time collaborator Jacob Greenberg; Jason Eckardt’s Undersong (Mode) with ICE; and Berio’s Sequenza III and the complete chamber songs of Webern (both on Naxos). Upcoming releases will include works of Xenakis, Josh Levine, and the complete songs with piano of Webern.

As an active participant in the creation and commissioning of new music from both established and emerging composers, Tony Arnold has premiered over 200 new works to date. Recent premieres have included music by Georges Aperghis, David Lang, Beat Furrer, Eric Chasalow, Philippe Manoury, Pamela Madsen, Fredrick Gifford, David Liptak, Christopher Theofanidis, John Zorn, and David Gompper. In 2012, Ms. Arnold and violinist Movses Pogossian were the recipients of a coveted Chamber Music America Commissioning Grant to support the creation of a new work by Gabriela Lena Frank.

In 2009, Ms. Arnold was the first performer ever invited to be the Howard Hanson Distinguished Professor of Composition at the Eastman School of Music. Since 2003 she has served on the faculty of the University at Buffalo, where she founded the extended vocal techniques ensemble, BABEL. In both these settings and at soundSCAPE, she has worked on a sustained basis with student composers. She is regularly engaged to teach masterclasses for composers, singers, and instrumentalists in universities worldwide. In 2014, she will serve as artist-in-residence at both the University of Indianapolis and the University of California at Davis.

Tony Arnold is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University. Growing up in suburban Baltimore, she composed, sang, and played every instrument she could persuade her parents to let her bring home, but never intended to become a professional vocalist. Instead, she applied her broad musical background to the study of orchestral conducting. Following graduate school, she was thrice a fellow of the Aspen Music Festival (twice as a conductor, then again later as a singer), and she enjoyed success as the music director of several orchestras in the Chicago area. When she was in her early thirties, Ms. Arnold reconnected with her love of singing, and discovered a special ability for making the most complex vocal music accessible to every audience. Having been inspired by many mentors, she is especially indebted to the teaching of sopranos Carmen Mehta and Carol Webber, conductors Robert Spano and Victor Yampolsky, and composer György Kurtág.


Thiago Ancelmo de Souza

Born in Brazil, THIAGO ANCELMO de SOUZA obtained his Master’s degree at the Hochschule für Musik der Stadt Basel, where he graduated with distinction under the guidance of the renowned educator François Benda. During his studies in Switzerland he had the chance to work with important musicians and composers such as Sergio Azzolini, Felix Renglli, Heinz Holliger, Helmut Lachenmann and others. In Switzerland he received a scholarship by Ruth und Hans Rapp Stiftung.

He was awarded and finalist in many competitions including Jovens Interpretes do Centro Cultural de São Paulo (2003), Jovens Solistas da Orquestra Experimental de Repertório (2005 and 2006), Jovens Talentos Brasileiros (2007), International Clarinet Competition in Krsko (Slovenia,2008), Zurich Opera House Orchestra Academy (2009), and All Star Competition (2012).

In 2012 he moved to Iowa, where he is pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Iowa under the orientation of Dr. Maurita Murphy Marx. Thiago is honored to be the recipient of the prestigious “Iowa Performance Fellowship” granted by the Graduate College of the University of Iowa.

 

Notes

Ruth Crawford SEEGER

String Quartet (1931)
Ruth Crawford (who married her composition teacher Charles Seeger in November 1931, shortly after writing this quartet) was among the most daring and accomplished American avant garde composers. She wrote music in which a lot happens all at once, on every possible level. She exercised strict control over all aspects of the music, rhythm, and tone color, as well as the individual notes of the melodic lines, creating music of extraordinary dramatic tension. This quartet is often considered her masterpiece.

The quartet, a 12-minute work is fully as concentrated and advanced as any work for a similarly sized ensemble produced by Anton Webern, Schoenberg's most radical disciple. The texture throughout favors lines that are highly independent from each other. The first movement, Rubato assai, has the kind of wide, arching intervals that are a part of the Webern-Schoenberg style, perhaps not surprising since Crawford wrote the quartet in Berlin during her Guggenheim Fellowship year of 1930-1931. The way the movement increases in energy by piling up on itself, so to speak, is typical of Crawford's music and sets the work apart from its European models.

The second movement, Leggiero (lightly), is canonic, with imitative entrances cast in distinct registers; the lines of the music are often linked from one instrument to the next like a chain. The third movement is a remarkable study in what Crawford called "dissonant dynamics." Each of the four instruments has its own independent rise and fall in loudness on different held notes. The assertion of one particular note transfers the listener's attention to it, so the melody emerges note by note from an ever-shifting cloud of dissonance. Later, Crawford would attempt to make this effect even clearer to the audience by arranging this movement as an Andante for string orchestra, trusting that the conductor would control these emerging melodies even better than individual string players could.

The Allegro finale features hard-edged playing at the frog of the bow by the first violin, juxtaposed with fast unison or doubled answers by the other strings, posing a tricky problem in dynamic balance for the performers. As the movement progresses, the three lower strings adopt the material and manner of the violin, and vice versa, by stages, then return via the same path to the texture of the beginning. It's a bold concept, brilliantly executed.

This quartet represented both the high point of Crawford's career as an avant-garde composer and a premature end to it. The Seegers became Communists, necessarily involved in the "proletarian music movement." Crawford Seeger's music veered sharply in that direction with the couple's subsequent pioneering work in American folk song taking all her career time. She did not return to the path indicated by this great quartet again until 1952, by which time she was already fatally stricken with cancer. (Joseph Stevenson)

Ruth Crawford Seeger (July 3, 1901 – November 18, 1953), born Ruth Porter Crawford, was a modernist composer active primarily during the 1920s and 30s and an American folk music specialist from the late 1930s until her death. She was a prominent member of a group of American composers known as the "ultramoderns," and her music influenced later composers including Elliott Carter (Shreffler 1994).


Josh LEVINE

like morning
In the summer of 2004, I began composing what would become a trilogy of filial homages to my mother, Gloria Levine, who died later that year. I wrote Transparency (Part I), a work for bass drum and triangles, in the inchoate knowledge that she had little time left to live. Clear Sky (2006), for soprano saxophone and ensemble, was composed in her memory while the experience of her passing was still vivid. The present piece in two movements comes many years later; it brings with it both closure and, I hope, a sense of opening. While each of the earlier works is driven in its way by thoughts on decay and something being lost, in this farewell gesture of the trilogy I am concerned ultimately with what carries on, with transformation and renewal. In this spirit, it is dedicated to my two sons.

The first movement of like morning picks up where the antecedent works left off. Much of its musical material originates with sketches and plans for those pieces that, perhaps appropriately, did not come to life at the time. Clear Sky’s resonance is particularly present. To cite significant examples: the soprano now revives the soprano saxophone’s role, negotiating virtuosic instrument-like writing in the process; the music unfolds in distinct episodes, which in their foundational structure and proportions correspond to the planned continuation of Clear Sky; and the flow of the music is perforated by noise-oriented “visions,” music of a strikingly different character than any other in the piece.

The second movement is based on three interweaving, cyclical melodic lines. It begins as an implicitly three-voice melody sung by the soprano alone. Words are explicit in only one of the “voices;” the singer uses phonetically colored humming for the others, as if struggling to regain the ability to speak or, perhaps, having nearly transcended the need for it. This melodic material ramifies through the quartet over the course of the movement’s nearly 14 minutes, a process that eventually leaves the soprano in silence “where there is nothing that needs saying.” Along this arc is a series of “portals” characterized by high-pitched tapping on muted strings. They open like windows onto another world, analogous to the “visions” of the first movement. But this delicate soundworld is quite unlike those earlier apparitions, with pitch material deriving entirely from W.A. Mozart’s Concerto in C for Flute and Harp, K. 299, music that my mother especially loved.

The title of the piece refers to the closing (yet opening!) line of the brief Pablo Neruda poem at its heart, “Nace.” My choice of this text is, again, in tribute to my mother, who was a Hispanicist to whom Neruda’s poetry was dear.

Nace It Is Born
yo aquí vine a los límites
en donde no hay que decir nada,
todo se aprende con tiempo y océano,
y volvía la luna,
sus líneas plateadas
y cada vez se rompía la sombra
con un golpe de ola
y cada día en el balcón del mar
abre las alas, nace el fuego
y todo sigue azul como mañana.

Pablo Neruda
I came here to the farthest reaches
where there is nothing that needs saying,
everything is absorbed in timeweather and ocean,
and the moon washed back,
its beams all of silver
and time and again the darkness ruptured
with the crash of a wave
and every day on the balcony of the sea
wings open, fire is born
and everything still is blue like morning.

(Translation J.L.)

 like morning was composed between 2012 and 2014 for Tony Arnold and the JACK Quartet, in friendship and deep admiration. — JL

The music of American composer Josh Levine (b. 1959 in Oregon) has been commissioned and performed by prominent new music soloists and ensembles in venues ranging from IRCAM and the Cité de la Musique in Paris to Merkin Hall in New York, from festivals in Melbourne and Los Angeles to the World New Music Days in Stockholm. His tape piece, Tel, was awarded First Prize (1987) and a Euphonie d’0r (1992) at the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition. Recordings of his works have been broadcast internationally and released on the harmonia mundi and New Focus labels.
 
Following classical guitar studies in Basle, Switzerland, Levine’s focus shifted to composition under the tutelage of Balz Trümpy. Further studies took him to the Paris Conservatory (1985-86 with Guy Reibel) and IRCAM. He worked for several years in Europe as a free-lance composer and guitarist in such noted new music ensembles as Contrechamps before earning his Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego, where his primary mentor was Brian Ferneyhough. From 2000-08, he lectured in composition, electronic music, and music theory at San Francisco State University, and has also taught composition at UCSD and Stanford University. He is currently Assistant Professor of Composition at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.


Carolina HEREDIA

Lus in Bello
is inspired by the current socio-political conflict in Venezuela. After the rape of a student in San Cristobal, Táchira in February 2014, many students around the country began publicly protesting the lack of security in Venezuela, a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world. Soon the core group of student protesters began attracting the attention of the general public. A diverse group of citizens joined the protests to demand solutions to the uncontrollable inflation, shortage of food supplies, manipulation of the mass media by the government, and corruption.

The government responded to these protests with violent repression. As of April 2014 they have killed 42 civilians in confrontations. The government has used psychological and physical denigration to torture the protesters.

Lus in Bello is the Latin for Law of War; this is a set of moral principles that regulate confrontation. These implicit and explicit pacts must be honored during the conflict. In Venezuela these laws of war have been broken. (Carolina Heredia)

Carolina Heredia is an accomplished violin teacher, performer and composer who has enjoyed success in all fields across several countries. She has a bachelor degree in Violin Performance form the Cordoba State Conservatory, Argentina, and a Licenciature in Music Composition from the Villa Maria National University, Argentina.
 
Ms. Heredia is a composer and advocate for contemporary music. Currently she is studying towards a Master Degree in Music Composition from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, one of the top schools for contemporary composition in the nation, studying with Michael Daugherty, Evan Chambers and Erik Santos. Her pieces are performed and recorded in the United States as well as in Latin America.


Elliott CARTER

String Quartet No. 3
commissioned by the Juilliard School for the Juilliard String Quartet, divides the instruments into pairs; a Duo for violin and cello that plays in rubato style and a Duo for violin and viola in more regular rhythm.

The violin-cello duo presents four different musical characters: an angry, intense Furioso, a fanciful Leggerissimo, a Pizzicato giocoso and a lyrical Andante espressivo, in short sections one after the other in various orders, sometimes with pauses between. The violin-viola duo, meanwhile, presents six contrasting characters: Maestoso; Grazioso; Pizzicato; giusto mechanic; Scorrevole; Largo tranquillo; and Appassionato. During the Quartet each character of each duo is presented alone and also in combination with each character of the other duo to give a sense of ever-varying perspectives of feeling, expression, rivalry and cooperation. (Elliott Carter)

Elliott Carter, (b. 1908, New York) one of the most influential composers of his generation, was educated at the Horace Mann School in New York City, at Harvard, at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris and in the studio of Nadia Boulanger; an early association with Charles Ives was also important in his early development. Carter's growth as a composer was gradual but since 1950, the year of his String Quartet No. 1, his reputation and influence have grown enormously. Major works include several large concerted and orchestral pieces, five fine string quartets and a variety of chamber ensemble pieces. Carter's trademark is the differentiation of instruments and sections, giving each player or each group a characteristic mode of music speech generating a complex polyphony of rhythm and tempo. —D.K.G.