Concert 1 – Arditti Quartet Plays Wyschnegradsky & Haas
Saturday, March 23, 2019, 8pm @ Taube Atrium Theater
Single-minded and visionary composers are so often the ones most easily ignored by the changing currents of music taste. Ivan Wyschnegradsky (1893-1979) led a life characterized by exile and cultural exclusion; he was never part of any school, and the individuality of his work reflects his personal and lifelong determination to honor his deeply idiosyncratic muse. He was a founding father of microtonal composition and theory, yet he was at heart an expressionist, a spiritual descendant of Scriabin. Throughout his long life he sought audiences for his music but never compromised his artistic principles to gain the public ear. A mystical belief in the value of his work sustained him through these decades of neglect, affording his music surety and conviction.
The Arditti String Quartet of London, champions of Wyschnegradsky’s work, will perform his microtonal pieces for strings. While string music comprises a smaller portion of Wyschnegradsky’s catalogue than his better-known works for microtonal pianos, the Arditti Quartet makes a compelling case for Wyschnegradsky’s quartets, exploiting the expressive capabilities inherent to strings. The expanded scalar and harmonic palette, and wider variety of timbres lead the way to reforming a repertoire long confined to 12 equal-tempered tones.
Georg Friedrich Haas’ style makes extensive use of micro-polyphony, micro-intervals, and the exploitation of the overtone series; he is often characterized as a leading exponent of “spectral music.” String Quartet No 2 is a commission by the Wiener Konzerthaus for the Hagen Quartet, combining tonal, microtonal adjustments, temporal expansions and compressions resulting in a sometimes virtuoso, flickering sound picture. Tradition shines through again and again, but it appears as something lost, distant, clouded.
About the Arditti Quartet
The Arditti Quartet enjoys a world-wide reputation for their spirited and technically refined interpretations of contemporary and earlier 20th century music. Many hundreds of string quartets and other chamber works have been written for the ensemble since its foundation by first violinist Irvine Arditti in 1974. Many of these works have left a permanent mark on 20th century repertoire and have given the Arditti Quartet a firm place in music history. World premieres of quartets by composers such as Abrahamsen, Adès, Andriessen, Birtwistle, Britten, Cage, Carter, Denisov, Dillon, Dusapin, Fedele, Ferneyhough, Francesconi, Gubaidulina, Guerrero, Harvey, Kagel, Kurtag, Ligeti, Maderna, Manoury, Nancarrow, Reynolds, Rihm, Scelsi, Sciarrino, Stockhausen, Xenakis, and hundreds more show the wide range of music in the Arditti Quartet’s repertoire. The ensemble believes that close collaboration with composers is vital to the process of interpreting modern music and therefore attempts to work with every living composer it plays.
Concert 1 Program
String Quartet No. 1 (1923-24, rev.) 1953-54
String Quartet No. 2 (1930-31)
String Quartet No. 3 in semitones (1945, rev. 1958-59)
Composition for string quartet (1960, rev. 1966-70)
Trio for violin, viola, and cello (1978-79)
Georg Friedrich Haas:
String Quartet No. 2 (1998)
Concert 2 – Brian Baumbusch’s The Pressure
Saturday, June 15, 2019 @ Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater
For OM 24, OM has commissioned California-based composer and instrument builder Brian Baumbusch to write a new evening-length work for instruments and tunings of his own devising. The work, entitled The Pressure, features more than 25 players including the composer’s own Lightbulb Ensemble, a flexible group of 20 percussionists, along with the San Francisco-based Friction String Quartet, a keyboardist, and four singers/narrators. The music will explore the sound-palates of Baumbusch’s mixed ensemble, ranging from the shimmering tones of his homemade metallophone instruments to the rich chroma of the strings.
The Pressure will be a 90-minute multimedia work based on themes of early German expressionist film centered on the occult/uncanny as explored through an original storyline written by the composer’s brother Paul Baumbusch, and feature an onstage performance set to projected illustrations created by Federico Yankelevich from Madrid, Spain.
About the Artists
Brian Baumbusch is a composer and multi-instrumentalist based in Oakland, California, whose “harmonically vivid… intense… simmering” (NY Times) compositions push the boundaries of new music. He has spearheaded projects of both western and non-western music which are considered a “cultural treat” (Maryland Gazette). His 2015 composition, Hydrogen(2)Oxygen for the JACK Quartet and Lightbulb Ensemble is described by the Washington Post as being “exuberantly complex, maddeningly beautiful, and as intoxicating as a drug.” He has given major performances at such venues as the Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar, The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, The Clarice Smith Center of Maryland, Kresge Hall at MIT, Cambridge, and The Yerba Buena Center of San Francisco, among others. He has collaborated with musicians such as The JACK Quartet, I Made Subandi, Pauline Oliveros, David Behrman, Wayne Vitale, and Larry Polansky.
The Lightbulb Ensemble (LBE) is a new music percussion ensemble that champions experimental music, instrument building, and contemporary gamelan. Their “refreshingly innovative performances challenge conventional notions of how gamelan music should sound” (SF Classical Voice), and they are “as cutting edge as cutting edge gets, exuberantly complex, maddeningly beautiful, and as intoxicating as a drug” (The Washington Post). The ensemble emerged from the culture of new music at Mills College and the longstanding artistic exchange between Bali and the US fostered by Gamelan Sekar Jaya. LBE performs on steel metallophones, wooden marimbas, and other instruments designed, tuned, and built by Brian Baumbusch, LBE founder and director. Performing only new repertoire, the group presents in-house compositions and collaborates with other artists of the new music community, including the Paul Dresher Ensemble, the JACK Quartet, and The Center for Contemporary Music, among others.
Friction Quartet, whose performances have been called “terribly beautiful” (San Francisco Classical Voice), “stunningly passionate” (Calgary Herald) and “exquisitely skilled” (ZealNYC), exists to modernize the chamber music experience and expand the string quartet repertoire. Joshua Kosman (San Francisco Chronicle) declared that Friction Quartet is “an artist who should be discovered” and described their performance as “high-octane music making…a fine blend of rhythmic ferocity and tonal flair.”
Concert 2 Program
Performed by Lightbulb Ensemble and Friction Quartet
Concert 3 – Ivan Wyschnegradsky, Music for four pianos in quartertones
Sunday, June 16, 2019 @ Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater
The late composer Ivan Wyschnegradsky (1893-1979) was a tireless explorer in the realm of quarter-tone, eighths-of-tone, 16ths-of-tone, and other microtonal [composition] circa 1935-1975. Other Minds presents the first-ever American retrospective of works by this Russian-born acquaintance of Alexander Scriabin’s who lived most of his life in Paris after 1920. Charles Amirkhanian, who met with the composer three times between 1972-1978, is curating a program that will include Ainsi parlait Zarathoustra, a four-movement 30-minute work for four grand pianos, two of them tuned down a quarter-tone, and other works for piano ensemble.
About the Artists
HOCKET is a cutting-edge piano duo based in Los Angeles. Lauded as “brilliant” by Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times and as an “adventurous young ensemble” by The New Yorker, members Sarah Gibson and Thomas Kotcheff are both pianist-composers dedicated to commissioning and performing contemporary music. They have performed in some of the most exciting festivals and venues across the country including The Bang on Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA, MATA Festival in New York City, The Center for New Music in San Francisco, and the Carlsbad Music Festival. Together, they have premiered over one hundred chamber and solo works and have collaborated with the premiere new music ensembles Eighth Blackbird and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. HOCKET has received grants from the Presser Foundation and The Earle Brown Music Foundation and has been a selected artist in Firebird Ensemble’s Outstanding Young Artists Initiative.
Sarah Gibson is a composer and pianist who has been called “a serious talent to watch” (Atlanta Journal Constitution). Sarah holds degrees in Piano and Composition from Indiana University, and a Masters and Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in composition from USC.
Thomas Kotcheff is a Los Angeles based composer and pianist. His compositions have been described as “truly beautiful and inspired” (icareifyoulisten.com) and “explosive” (Gramophone Magazine). He holds degrees in composition and piano performance from the Peabody Institute and the University of Southern California.
Described as “phenomenal and fearless,” Grammy nominated pianist Vicki Ray is a leading interpreter of contemporary piano music. Known for thoughtful and innovative programming which seeks to redefine the piano recital in the 21st century, Vicki’s concerts often include electronics, video, recitation and improvisation.
A native of Belgium, Steven Vanhauwaert was hailed by the Los Angeles Times’ Mark Swed for his “impressive clarity, sense of structure and monster technique.” Since then, Mr. Vanhauwaert has appeared in solo recitals at the world’s leading venues, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa, REDCAT Auditorium, the Concertgebouw, the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, and Bulgaria Hall in Sofia.
A winner of five first prizes at the National Superior Conservatory of Music of Paris, where she studied with Yves Nat, Martine Joste is one of the most brilliant French pianists of today. After perfecting her skills in Siena (Italy), Tanglewood (USA) and the Mozarteum of Salzburg (Austria), Martine Joste began an international concert career which has taken her to all the European countries, the USA, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Uruguay, Canada and the Middle-East.
A passionate advocate of contemporary music, she performs regularly with numerous ensembles. As a soloist, she has given first performances of more than 40 works (by Jean-Claude Risset, Alain Bancquart, Bruce Mather, Claude Ballif, Ivan Wyschnegradsky, Fernand Vandenbogaerde, among others), several of which she requested and are dedicated to her. In 1992, John Cage composed one of his last works, Two6 for her and the violinist Ami Flammer.
Active as a conductor of new music, composer Donald Crockett has presented many world, national and regional premieres with the Los Angeles-based new music ensemble Xtet, Thornton Edge new music ensemble, and as a guest conductor with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Hilliard Ensemble, California EAR Unit, Firebird Ensemble, Ensemble X, Jacaranda, and the USC Thornton Symphony. He has also been very active over the years as a composer and conductor with the venerable and famed Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles. His recordings as a conductor can be found on the Albany, CRI, Doberman/Yppan, ECM and New World labels.
Concert 3 Program
24 Preludes, for two pianos in quarter-tones (excerpts)
Étude sur le carré magique sonore (solo piano)
Cosmos, for four pianos in quarter-tones
Étude sur les mouvements rotatoires, for two pianos in quarter-tones
Three Pieces, op. 38 (solo piano)
Ainsi parlait Zarathustra, for four pianos in quarter-tones