photo by Angela P. Schapiro



New Foundations III
The Blue Dress

Music by Anna Clyne, Missy Mazzoli, and Pulitzer prize winner Julia Wolfe. Repertoire is paired with the string quartet’s arrangements of music by their personal sources of inspiration, including rock legend Stevie Nicks, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, and the pop and soul icon Aretha Franklin.

The New Foundations project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. ETHEL’s mini-residency is part of the New York State Presenters Network Presenter-Artist Partnership Project made possible through a regrant from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.


Kip Jones,violin
Corin Lee, violin
Ralph Farris, viola
Dorothy Lawson,cello

SATURDAY, JUNE 24, 2017, 8 pm

New Foundations III

New Foundations: Toward a Modern Chamber Music Repertoire is a mini-festival of chamber music composed in the last thirty years. The series is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Blue Dress

Program listed alphabetically by composer. Order of pieces and intermission will be announced from the stage.

Natures • After Aretha Franklin, arr. Kip Jones
Totally Perfect • After Kim Gordon, arr. Ralph Farris
Sweet Janis • After Janis Joplin, arr. Ralph Farris
Chai • Dorothy Lawson
Epic Soda • Dorothy Lawson
Quartet for Queen Mab • Missy Mazzoli
The Music There • After Stevie Nicks, arr. Corin Lee
Blue Dress for String Quartet • Julia Wolfe

About the Artists

Founded in 1998 and based in New York City, ETHEL is comprised of Ralph Farris (viola), Dorothy Lawson (cello), Kip Jones (violin), and Corin Lee (violin).

ETHEL has been acclaimed as “unfailingly vital” by the The New York Times; as “brilliant,” and “downtown’s reigning string quartet” by The New Yorker; and as “one of the most exciting quartets around” by The Strad magazine. The quartet invigorates the contemporary music scene with exuberance, intensity, imaginative programming, and exceptional artistry.

At the heart of ETHEL is a quest for a common creative expression that is forged in the celebration of community. As cultural and musical “pollinators,” the quartet brings its collaborative discoveries to audiences through multi-dimensional musical repertoire and community engagement.

Always striving to demonstrate the unifying power of music, ETHEL has initiated innovative collaborations with an extraordinary community of international artists including David Byrne, Bang on a Can, Todd Rundgren, Carlo Mombelli, Ursula Oppens, Loudon Wainwright III, STEW, Ensemble Modern, Jill Sobule, Dean Osborne, Howard Levy, Simone Sou, Andrew Bird, Iva Bittová, Colin Currie, Thomas Dolby, Jeff Peterson, Oleg Fateev, Stephen Gosling, Jake Shimabukuro, Polygraph Lounge, and Vijay Iyer.

From 2004 to 2014, ETHEL served as ensemble-in-residence at the Grand Canyon Music Festival’s Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project. The group’s ongoing dedication to working with indigenous people and music culminated in the 2010 release of Oshtali: Music for String Quartet, the first commercial recording of American Indian student works.

ETHEL’s debut CD was a Billboard Magazine “Best Recording of 2003.” Its second CD, Light, ranked number three on’s “Best of 2006” and number five on WNYC’s “Best of 2006 Listener Poll.” The group’s CD Heavy was released in 2012 to great critical acclaim. Recordings of ETHEL’s Documerica and The River, a collaboration with Taos Pueblo flutist Robert Mirabal, were released in the fall of 2015. ETHEL has appeared as a guest artist on many albums, including in 2014 The Paha Sapa Give-Back by Jerome Kitzke; Cold Blue Two, Glow by Kaki King, Blue Moth by Anna Clyne, A Map of the Floating City by Thomas Dolby, and The Duke by Joe Jackson, all in 2012; John the Revelator: A Mass for Six Voices by Phil Kline with the vocal ensemble Lionheart in 2008; and the Grammy-winning Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman in 2009.

Over the past five years, ETHEL has premiered more than one hundred new works by twentieth- and twenty-first-century composers, including Phil Kline’s Space at the gala reopening of Alice Tully Hall; Radio by Osvaldo Golijov at the inauguration of WNYC Radio’s Jerome L. Greene Space; ETHEL’s own TruckStop: The Beginning and Documerica at BAM’s Next Wave Festival; ETHEL Fair: The Songwriters at the 2010 opening night of Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors festival; Wait For Green with choreographer Annie-B Parson (commissioned by Arts Brookfield); HonBiBaekSan by Dohee Lee at Meet the Composer’s Three-City Dash Festival; and Quartet for Queen Mab by Missy Mazzoli. ETHEL’s HomeBaked series has commissioned and premiered works by emerging New York City composers Andy Akiho, Hannis Brown, Anna Clyne, Lainie Fefferman, Dan Friel, Judd Greenstein, Matt Marks, and Ulysses Owens Jr. ETHEL has premiered original scores in combination with new choreography by Aleksandra Vrebalov and the Dušan Týnek Dance Company, and by Son Lux and Gina Gibney Dance. The quartet has also premiered works by Philip Glass, Julia Wolfe, John Zorn, Evan Ziporyn, Steve Reich, John King, Raz Mesinai, John Luther Adams, JacobTV, Hafez Modirzadeh, David Lang, Kenji Bunch, Don Byron, and Marcelo Zarvos.

ETHEL’s 2016-2017 season celebrates the diversity of regional American music, anchored by a national tour of the evening-length Documerica. Described by The New York Times as “new music bonding with old images in rich, provocative and moving ways,” this program, directed by Steve Cosson, features montages by acclaimed projection artist Deborah Johnson in concert with commissioned work by Mary Ellen Childs, Ulysses Owens Jr., Jared Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, and James “Kimo” Williams, as well as original music by the members of ETHEL.

Throughout the season. ETHEL will be on tour with several of its critically acclaimed signature programs, including The River and Grace, an introspective program featuring ETHEL’s arrangements of music by Ennio Morricone and Jeff Buckley. Other highlights include the world premiere at National Sawdust of Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Wolfe’s The Blue Dress, which was commissioned by ETHEL; performances of new and existing repertoire as the resident ensemble at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Balcony Bar; and interdisciplinary activities as Ensemble-in-Residence at Denison University. While on tour and at home, ETHEL offers in-depth residency and community outreach to connect a broad spectrum of audiences and students to its music.

Violist Ralph Farris, a founding member and artistic director of ETHEL, is a Grammy-nominated arranger, a member of the orchestra for the original Broadway production of The Lion King, and former musical director for Roger Daltrey of The Who. He has worked with Leonard Bernstein, Martin Scorsese, Depeche Mode, Natalie Merchant, Harry Connick Jr., Allen Ginsberg, Yo-Yo Ma, and Gorillaz. A graduate of Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Ralph earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School.

Cellist Dorothy Lawson, a founding member and artistic director of ETHEL, has performed with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the White Oak Dance Project, Philharmonia Virtuosi, the American Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and numerous new music ensembles. Canadian-born, she completed degrees at the University of Toronto, the Vienna Academy, and The Juilliard School. She teaches in the Preparatory Division of Mannes College at the New School in New York City.

Violinist Kip Jones is known for his ebullient and innovative solo performances in a style he describes as “experimental folk.” A modern musical troubadour, he has performed at scores of eclectic venues, such as Ecuador’s Ministry of Economic Inclusion, the Jordan Misja Liceu Artistik in Tirana, Albania, and the platforms of most subway systems in North America. He has played two miles inside the Chom Ong Cave in Laos, and in the summer homes of nomadic Mongolian herders. As a composer, Kip’s work has been commissioned by ensembles that include the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra and A Far Cry. A native of Minnesota, Kip earned his degree in violin performance from the Berklee College of Music, which is known for the study of jazz and modern American music and is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world.

Violinist Corin Lee is one of the most sought-after violinists of his generation. He has appeared on the great American stages, traditional and otherwise—from Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium to The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, from Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center to the Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas, one of the biggest electronic dance music festivals in the world. Corin’s performances have been broadcast on Fox, CBS, and NBC News. Steve Reich has called Corin’s electronic arrangements “musically marvelous,” and they have set the new standard for innovation in solo string performance. Corin received his bachelor of music degree from The Juilliard School and his master’s of music degree from Yale School of Music. In addition to concert work, he directs Liberated Performer, a program that guides and trains musicians to defeat performance anxiety.

Miro Quartet


Miró Quartet

All Dvořák
Selections from The Cypresses
Quartet No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 34
Quartet No. 14 in A-Flat major, Op. 105

The Miró Quartet

Daniel Ching, violin
William Fedkenheuer, violin
John Largess, viola
Joshua Gindele, cello

SUNDAY, JUNE 25, 2017, 4 pm

All-Dvořák Program

The First of Seven Programs this Season Honoring Aaron Jay Kernis, Johannes Brahms, and Antonín Dvořák


Selections from Cypresses (1884) | Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904)
8. In the Deepest Forest Glade (Lento)
2. Death Reigns in Many a Human Breast (Allegro ma non tropo)
3. When Thy Sweet Glances Fall on Me (Andante con moto)
9. Thou Only, Dear One (Moderato)
11. Nature Lies Peaceful in Slumber and Dreaming (Allegro scherzando)

String Quartet No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 34 (1879) Dvořák
Alla Polka, Allegretto scherzando
Poco Allegro


String Quartet No. 14 in A Flat, Op. 105 (1895) Dvořák
Adagio ma non troppo — Allegro appassionato
Molto vivace
Lento e molto cantabile
Allegro non tanto

About the Artists

Formed in 1995, the Miró Quartet is consistently praised for their deeply musical interpretations, exciting performances, and thoughtful programming. Each season, they perform throughout the world on the most important chamber music series and the most prestigious concert stages, garnering accolades from critics and audiences alike.

The Miró Quartet took its name from the Spanish artist Joan Miró, whose surrealist works—with subject matter drawn from the realm of memory and imaginative fantasy—are some of the most original of the twentieth century.

Miró Quartet took first prizes at several national and international competitions including the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Naumburg Chamber Music Competition. The Miró was the first ensemble ever to be awarded the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant, in 2005.

The Miró Quartet is based in Austin, Texas, and regularly tours throughout North America, Asia, and Europe. They are frequent performers in major American festivals such as the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, La Jolla Summerfest, and Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival. The Mirós have collaborated with noted musicians including Pinchas Zukerman, Joshua Bell, Midori, Leif Ove Andsnes, Jon Kimura Parker, and Eliot Fisk, among many others.

Concert highlights of recent seasons include a highly anticipated and sold-out return to Carnegie Hall to perform Beethoven’s complete Opus 59 Quartets, and collaborations with award-winning actor Stephen Dillane as part of Lincoln Center’s White Lights Festival.

The Miró Quartet regularly collaborates with pianist Jon Kimura Parker, percussionist Colin Currie, and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke (whom they recently performed with on the quartet’s Schubert Interrupted recording).

The Miró Quartet has served as the quartet-in-residence at the University of Texas at Austin Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music since 2003. Deeply committed to music education, members of the Miró Quartet have given master classes at universities and conservatories throughout the world.

The Quartet’s discography includes a recording of George Crumb’s Black Angels, which was awarded a Diapason d’Or award. The Quartet has recorded music of Felix Mendelssohn and Franz Schubert with cellist Matt Haimovitz (an undertaking that received a mention in The New York Times), and all six of Beethoven’s Opus 18 string quartets.

Of a recent performance, the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote: “Throughout the concert, the Miró gave lessons in the art of the string quartet, shaping each of the night’s scores with a blend of refinement and vibrancy that drew the listener deeply inside the sonic arguments.”


Music Director Alexander Platt’s plan for the Maverick season includes a series of seven concerts, spaced throughout the summer, honoring the music of three composers: Johannes Brahms, Antonin Dvořák, and Aaron Jay Kernis. For the opening concert of the season, and the first of that series, longtime Maverick favorites the Miró Quartet presents an all-Dvořák program.

Antonín Dvořák was the son of a butcher and innkeeper. His father played the zither to entertain his guests, and recognized his eldest son’s musical ability. The boy received lessons in violin, piano, organ, and—what was essential to any Czech who wanted to get ahead—the German language. He went to Prague as a teenager to receive formal education in music. He worked as principal violist in a major theater orchestra, and when Bedřich Smetana became the conductor, the young Dvořák was able to hear and play music by composers of his own country.

When Dvořák was twenty-four, he was stricken with love for a sixteen-year-old student, and composed a set of eighteen love songs in a period of seventeen days. The girl was apparently unimpressed, but Dvořák did later marry her younger sister. In 1884, Dvořák inscribed the manuscript: “These little compositions were originally songs…. I wrote them in 1865 and now, after 22 years, I have arranged them [twelve of the original eighteen] for quartet under the title ‘The Echo of Songs.’” They were published posthumously and given the title Cypresses by his pupil and son-in-law, Josef Suk. Dvořák retains the flowing quality of the songs, substituting the violin for the voice and keeping the accompaniment simple and lyrical.

In the 1860s, Dvořák was working as a church organist, and applied for the stipend that the Austrian State gave to up-and-coming creative artists. In 1875, Johannes Brahms joined the jury, and he not only voted to award Dvořák the stipend, he also recommended the young composer to his publisher, Simrock, with a rave review: “For several years I have enjoyed works sent in by Antonín Dvořák (pronounced Dvorschak) of Prague. As a publisher, you will be particularly pleased with their piquancy. He is a very talented man.” After that, Dvořák received many offers to publish and perform. Within two years, his compositions had been heard in Dresden, Hamburg, Berlin, Nice, London, and New York.

Dvořák composed his String Quartet No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 34, after receiving his third stipend from the Austrian government, and dedicated the work to his benefactor, Brahms. In the opening Allegro, the first violin has the songlike theme in a lilting 3/4 meter, with the cello adding a steady bass and the two inner voices ornamenting the tune with graceful eighth note figures. Each voice has its turn at the fast runs, giving those grace notes importance as part of the musical idea. By the time of the first real cadence, the key has changed to F major, a fairly typical modulation. But the chord following that cadence is B major—a highly unusual and surprising modulation, since the leap from F to B is an augmented fourth, a restless interval known in medieval music as diabolus in musica (the devil in music) and completely forbidden. So after this pleasant adventure in song, Dvořák lets us know that he is free to take the music wherever he wishes, and let the rules be damned.

There is no rule that the scherzo of a string quartet has to be in a time signature based on three, but those are by far the most common meters. The scherzo, after all, evolved out of the minuet, which must be in a triple meter to suit the steps of the dance. In this piece, Dvořák replaces the scherzo with a polka (Alla Polka. Allegretto scherzando), in 2/4 time. There’s a winsome bit of irony here. This is the only section of the entire quartet written in a duple meter, and it serves the function of a scherzo, the only type of movement that is almost always written in triple meter. The polka originated as a Czech dance, so Dvořák is both adding a nationalistic flavor and honoring the spirit of the dance. In the central trio, the composer accedes to tradition and uses 3/4 time. The polka returns to finish the usual ABA structure.

The slow movement (Adagio) starts in 3/4 time. Here Dvořák pays homage to Brahms, with a full sound and rich, romantic harmonies. Instruments play in dialogue, in duet, and in many other combinations, with each one given importance. Rather than offering one singable melody, the composer creates a lush ambience with small trill-like motifs that echo from one voice to another, augmenting and encircling the themes.

As so many composers are wont to do, Dvořák adds a bit of fugal treatment to the opening of his Finale (Poco allegro). Once again, he writes in a triple meter, this time 6/8. Sharp accents and heavily rhythmic forward motion give this movement the feeling of a folk dance. After the focus on individual instruments throughout the string quartet, Dvořák ends with all the musicians playing together as one voice.

Dvořák gave the world twenty-four completed chamber works. The String Quartet in A flat, Op. 105 was the last one he completed, and it represents the full flowering of his mature style. After this piece, he concentrated exclusively on operas and symphonic poems.

The slow introduction (Adagio ma non troppo) presents the main motif—a graceful turn, like a slowed-down trill, and a rise of a third. The cello states it first, and each instrument takes it. The main body of the first movement (Allegro appassionato) is rich with varying textures—duets; clear, high homophony (all playing the same rhythm); imitative counterpoint; and solo viola or cello with soft accompaniment.

Dvořák writes a Scherzo (Molto vivace) in the style of the Bohemian dance known as the furiant. The minor melody has an Eastern European flavor, with short motifs repeated and sequenced (moved to a different starting pitch) into a long descending phrase. The same sequencing plays a part in the central Trio, which changes the mode to major and the meter to a graceful waltz.

In the slow movement (Lento e molto cantabile), we can hear the influence of Brahms in the harmonies, but the melody is Dvořák’s straightforward and individual style. Dvořák clearly delineates the various sections introducing new material and taking the song into darker, more dramatic territory for the central segment. The recapitulation of the themes lightens the mood considerably with a staccato countermelody in the second violin and pizzicato (plucked) accompaniment.

The Finale (Allegro non tanto) is the longest movement. The cello starts a dialogue with some apprehensiveness, but the other instruments respond with confidence and reassurance. Dvořák began writing this piece while was in the United States, finishing it after he returned home, and the work may express both his longing for his country and his gratitude to have returned. The feeling of contentment runs throughout the movement, and finally breaks into joyful excitement as the piece accelerates to the finish.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg.
It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy, publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at
Program Notes © 2017 by Miriam Villchur Berg

Arturo O' Farrill


Arturo O’Farrill Quintet

Beloved Grammy award winning Afro Latin Jazz great returns to the Maverick.
This performance made possible with support from Sally Grossman.

Arturo O’Farrill Quintet

Arturo O’Farrill, piano, leader
Bambam Rodriguez, bass
Zack O’Farrill, drums
Adam O’Farrill, trumpet
Livio Almeida, saxophone

SATURDAY, JULY 1, 2017, 8 pm


The program will be announced from the stage.
There will be an intermission.
This performance is made possible with support from Sally Grossman.

About the Artists

Arturo O’Farrill, pianist, composer, and educator, was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. A five-time Grammy winner, he received his formal musical education at the Manhattan School of Music, the Brooklyn College Conservatory, and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. His professional career began with the Carla Bley Big Band, from 1979 through 1983. He then went on to develop as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Turre, Freddy Cole, The Fort Apache Band, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte.

In 1995 Arturo agreed to direct the band that had preserved much of his father’s music, the Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra. In December 2010 Arturo traveled with the original orchestra to Cuba, returning his father’s musicians to his father’s homeland for headlining performances at the Havana International Jazz Festival. Currently, Arturo’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra continues the tradition of performing every Sunday nightat Birdland, which has for decades been one of the most popular jazz clubs in the country. He continues to travel to Cuba regularly as an informal cultural ambassador, working with Cuban musicians and students, bringing Cuban musicians to the US, and bringing American musicians to Cuba. Arturo now performs throughout the world as a solo artist and with his own jazz orchestra, as well as with smaller ensembles.

As an educator, Arturo gives master classes, seminars, and workshops throughout the world for students and teachers of all levels, at Yale University, Dartmouth College, Wellesley College, and the University of Caldas, Colombia. He is currently the Director of Jazz Studies at Brooklyn College.

In 2007, Arturo founded the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the performance, education, and preservation of Afro Latin music.

Arturo has performed at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Boston Symphony Hall, the Newport Jazz Festival, the Joyce Theater (with Ballet Hispánico and the Malpaso Dance Company, for whom he has written three ballets), and at New York’s Symphony Space, where he and his orchestra have been in residence since 2007. Overseas, Megaron Concert Hall in Athens, Kannai Hall in Yokohama, and the Taiwan’s Taichung Jazz Festival have all hosted Arturo and the orchestra. In 2016 he performed in Amsterdam, Paris, Munich, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Melbourne, and Manizales (Colombia), as well as at the Spoleto and North Sea Jazz Festivals.

A recognized composer of serious music, Arturo has received commissions from Meet the Composer, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Philadelphia Music Project, Symphony Space, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Apollo Theater. He has also composed music for films, including Hollywoodland and Salud. His music has been used in ballets by the Alvin Ailey Dance Company and the Malpaso Dance Company.

Bambam Rodriguez was born in Caracas, Venezuela. At the age of four he snuck into rock jam sessions, and from the age of seven he was playing the electric bass and studying music on his own. He started taking official music lessons at the age of ten, and one year later joined the Conservatorio de Música Simón Bolívar in Caracas, where he studied double bass. A few years later, Bambam joined the Sistema de Orquestas as a bass player and performed regularly all around the country, working with Simon Rattle and Gustavo Dudamel, among others. At the same time, he kept in contact with his rock roots, and performed and toured the country on many occasions, as well as playing salsa, Afro Cuban, and Venezuelan music in several ensembles.

At the age of eighteen, Bambam traveled to Belgium to get bachelor’s and master’s degrees in jazz double bass, and three years later moved again, this time to Holland for a master’s diploma in jazz, Latin American, and West African rhythms. During his stay in Europe, Bambam performed regularly in Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Holland, Germany, Hungary, and Romania, as well as overseas in Venezuela, Mexico, and the Caribbean, where he worked with the Latin jazz masters Alfredo Naranjo, Nené Quintero, and many others.

In 2012, Bambam moved to New York City to continue his career in music, where he leads and co-leads many musical projects. He has collaborated with Claudia Acuña, Ari Hoenig, Yayo Serka, Juancho Herrera, and Yuri Juárez. He still regularly tours Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Arturo O’Farrill’s sons Zack and Adam were born and raised in Brooklyn surrounded by jazz, Afro Latin, and classical music. Multiracial, multicultural, and multimusical, the deep creative environment in which the brothers flourished included, in addition to their father and their mother—pianist and educator Alison Deane—the legacy of their grandfather, the legendary Afro-Cuban composer/arranger Chico O’Farrill,.

A drummer, percussionist, and composer, Zack O’Farrill has explored the worlds of hip-hop, electronic music, ethnic music from around the world, twentieth-century classical music, singer-songwriters, and many other sounds.

Zack has performed in some of New York City’s most prestigious jazz venues, including the Jazz Gallery, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Cornelia Street Café, and Birdland, and has played around the world in clubs and festivals in Spain, Japan, Switzerland, and Cuba. He has been on the faculty of Samba Meets Jazz, the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, the Flynn Center Jazz Camp, and after-school programs in the New York City public schools. He continues to make music with his father, his brother, and other musicians on and around the East Coast.

Adam O’Farrill began studying piano at age six and trumpet at age eight, while starting to compose around the same time.

Adam and his brother Zack released two well-received albums as the O’Farrill Brothers Band: Giant Peach (2011) and Sensing Flight (2013), both on ZOHO Music and primarily featuring Adam’s original compositions. In 2016, he released his critically acclaimed first album under his own name, Stranger Days (Sunnyside Records), which features Zack on drums, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown on tenor sax, and Walter Stinson on bass.

In 2015, Adam was featured on two of the year’s most acclaimed albums. First, Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Bird Calls, which won the Downbeat Critics Poll for Best Jazz Album, was named one of the Best Jazz Albums of 2015 by NPR, The New York Times, the Observer, and The Chicago Tribune. Later that year, O’Farrill was featured (along with Mahanthappa and his brother Zack) on Arturo O’Farrill’s Cuba: The Conversation Continues, which was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album and won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album. In 2016, Adam was featured on Stephan Crump’s Rhombal, and on Evergreen (Canceled World) from rising composer-pianist Gabriel Zucker and his large ensemble. Adam has also performed with Vijay Iyer, Mulatu Astatke, Steve Lehman, Christian McBride, Jason Lindner, and more.

Adam O’Farrill recently completed his bachelor’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music.

Livio Almeida is a saxophone and woodwinds player, composer, and arranger from Brazil. Winner of the first International Saxophone Competition Victor Assis Brasil in 2015, he received his bachelor’s degree in classical saxophone in Brasilia, Brazil, and a BFA in jazz performance at City College of New York. Livio is a regular member of Arturo O’Farrill’s ensembles, as well as the Eco-Music Big Band. He has played with the O’Farrill Brothers band on their two albums. Livio has appeared in most of the traditional New York venues, including Dizzy’s Coca-Cola Club, the Jazz Gallery, Sweet Rhythm, Cornelia Street Café, Joe’s Pub, Zinc Bar, SOB’s, BAMcafé Live, The Falcon, Barbès, the Iridium Jazz Club, Symphony Space, and Birdland. Livio has performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, the Los Angeles Central Avenue Jazz Festival, New York Winter Jazz Fest, and CareFusion New York Jazz Festival, and has toured around the US and abroad. In addition to the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, he has shared the stage with world class musicians such as the legendary Birdland Big Band, Mike Holober, Boris Kozlov, Cidinho Teixeira, Helio Alves, Jon Gordon, and Nelson Angelo.

Livio also has a recorded album, Pieces as a co-leader, and his new record Action and Reaction is to be released soon, under the production of Arturo O’Farrill. He directs a ten-piece band, the only one of its kind in the USA, a “dectet” dedicated to performing large-ensemble Brazilian music in the US, with regular residencies at the traditional Zinc Bar and Iridium Jazz Club.

Almeida is considered a very distinctive voice on saxophone today, being fluent in both jazz and Brazilian musical languages. Livio is one of the regular teachers at the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance Academy of Music.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg. It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy, publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at Program Notes © 2017 by Miriam Villchur Berg.

Escher String Quartet


Escher String Quartet

Schubert: “Little” Quartet in E-Flat, Op. 125
Bartók: Quartet No. 3
Sibelius: String Quartet in D minor, Op. 56 ‘”Voces Intimae”

The Escher String Quartet

Adam Barnett-Hart, violin
Aaron Boyd, violin
Pierre Lapointe, viola
Brook Speltz, cello

SUNDAY, JULY 2, 2017, 4 pm


String Quartet No. 10 in E-Flat Major, D. 87, Op. posth. 125, No. 1, “Little” (1813) | Franz Schubert (1797–1828)
Allegro moderato
Scherzo: Prestissimo

String Quartet No. 3 (1927)  |  Béla Bartók (1881–1945)
Prima parte: Moderato
Seconda parte: Allegro
Recapitulazione della prima parte: Moderato
Coda: Allegro molto


String Quartet “Voces Intimae” (1909)  | Jean Sibelius (1865–1957)
Andante—Allegro moderato
Adagio di molto
Allegretto (ma pesante)

About the Artists

The Escher String Quartet has received acclaim for its profound musical insight and rare tonal beauty. Former BBC New Generation Artists, the quartet has performed at the BBC Proms at Cadogan Hall and is a regular guest at Wigmore Hall. In its home town of New York City, the ensemble serves as Season Artists of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, where it not only presented the complete quartets of Alexander Zemlinsky in a concert streamed live from the Rose Studio, but was also one of five quartets chosen to collaborate in a complete presentation of Beethoven’s string quartets.

Within months of its formation in 2005, the ensemble came to the attention of key musical figures worldwide. Championed by the Emerson Quartet, the Eschers were invited by both Pinchas Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman for residencies at their respective summer festivals. Artists the quartet has collaborated with include David Finckel, Leon Fleisher, Wu Han, Lynn Harrell, Cho-Liang Lin, Joshua Bell, Paul Watkins, and David Shifrin. In 2013, the quartet became one of the very few chamber ensembles to be awarded the Avery Fisher Career Grant.

Known for their wide stylistic interests, the Escher Quartet has collaborated with jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman, vocalist Kurt Elling, and legendary Latin artist Paquito D’Rivera. The ensemble tours regularly with Grammy-award-winning guitarist Jason Vieaux.

The Escher Quartet has made a distinctive impression throughout Europe, with recent debuts at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Berlin’s Konzerthaus, London’s Kings Place, the Slovenian Philharmonic Hall, and Auditorium du Louvre. The group has performed at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, has toured Israel and the UK, and has appeared at festivals such as the Heidelberg Spring Festival, Dublin’s Great Music in Irish Houses, the Risør Chamber Music Festival in Norway, the Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival, and the Perth International Arts Festival in Australia.

Alongside its growing European profile, the Escher Quartet continues to flourish in its home country, performing at Alice Tully Hall in New York, Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and the Ravinia and Caramoor festivals. In 2014, the quartet gave a highly praised debut at Chamber Music San Francisco, and in 2015 made a video recording of a Schubert quartet for Music in Focus at Music@Menlo (California), where it returns in the current season.

The Escher’s first two volumes of the complete Mendelssohn quartets, released on the BIS label in 2015, were received with the highest critical acclaim. They complete the Mendelssohn series this season with the release of Volume III. The quartet has also recorded the complete string quartets of Alexander Zemlinsky in two volumes, which were named Classical CD of the Year by The Guardian, a recommendation in The Strad, Recording of the Month on MusicWeb International, and a nomination for a BBC Music Magazine Award.

The Escher Quartet takes its name from Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher and his method of interplay between individual components working together to form a whole.

About the Music

Schubert’s String Quartet No. 10 in E-Flat Major, D 87, Op. posth. 125, No. 1, was long thought to be a later work until the manuscript, discovered after World War I, revealed that the quartet had been written in 1813, when Schubert was only sixteen. Although this “little” quartet cannot compare with the harmonic adventurousness of his later works, this early piece foreshadows Schubert’s future skill at combining melody, accompaniment, and musical structure. It was undoubtedly written as Hausmusik, and would have been played by the Schubert family, with Franz playing the viola, his brothers the violins, and his father the cello. The work is monotonal, with all four movements in the key of E-flat major.

In the first movement (Allegro moderato), the violin takes the lead all of the way through, with the other instruments providing a variety of accompanying techniques—tremolo (fast bowing on a single note), pizzicato (plucked), and simple chordal harmonies. The thematic melodies are lush, foreshadowing the future greatness of Schubert’s songwriting ability.

The youthfulness and domestic character of the music can be seen in the simple opening of the Adagio. Except for one moment of angst (a single diminished chord, quickly resolved), the movement is a clear, sweet song with a gentle ending.

The Scherzo is marked Prestissimo (as quickly as possible). The opening line rises on a grace note and plummets to a held note. This figure suggests the braying of a donkey, and provides liveliness and fun to the movement. As usual, the central Trio, here in C minor, has a more lyrical character, but continues the rustic feeling with a folk-like tune and open-fifth double stops (two notes played with one bowing) in the cello.

The Finale (Allegro) features the violin once again, with the cello added as a second soloist.

Early assessments of Béla Bartók’s music tended to dismiss him for appropriating the folk music of his country’s ethnic populations. As his popularity grew around the globe, however, the musical world came to recognize him as one of the great composers of the twentieth century. Bartók was very popular as a performer when he came to the United States, and his String Quartet No. 3 won an international prize sponsored by the Musical Society Fund of Philadelphia.

To those who have difficulty with the seeming clashes of unusual intervals in Bartók’s music, it must be pointed out that dissonance is a relative term, both historically and geographically. In Europe in the early Renaissance, a major third (the essence of what we call a major chord) was an interval that had to be resolved to the more consonant fifth or octave. And Balkan folk music—the music Bartók collected and emulated in his compositions—contains intervals and cadences that would be judged dissonant in today’s mainstream European and American musical language.

In the first movement (Prima parte: Moderato), the violin’s opening motif is bounced from one instrument to another, then played by all together. Each rendition adds something—a slightly new rhythm, a longer phrase, a glissando (sliding up or down to a pitch), or a different texture. Bartók said that he did not like to repeat a musical thought unchanged.

This same motif is used as a bridge to the second movement (Seconda parte: Allegro). Intense plucked notes and staccato chords create an expectant mood as the music builds in speed and complexity. The instruments play the theme one after another, imitatively, as in a canon. Bartók uses a variety of extended techniques, from pizzicato to the raspy sound of sul ponticello playing (bowing near the bridge), to the strange col legno (bowing the strings with the wood side of the bow).

The cello provides the solo that serves as the next transition. Although it is called a recapitulation (Ricapitulazione della prima parte: Moderato), it is considerably changed from the earlier music. Both the quiet themes of the first movement and the intense musical ideas of the second movement are reintroduced and re-examined. The Coda: Allegro molto is an exciting accelerando, speeding up irresistibly to the finish.

Along with the elite minority of Finns, Jean Sibelius grew up speaking Swedish, and was raised with a culture that was not his own. Eventually, he and his family rediscovered their roots and became part of the movement to reclaim their Finnish heritage. He incorporated the irregular rhythms, the repetitive musical figures, and the pentatonic and modal scales of Finnish folk music into his compositions.

He also actively sought to throw off the influence of neighboring Russia, which had governed Finland through most of the nineteenth century. He was fiercely anti-socialist, since socialism to him represented the oppression his country had suffered under Russian rule. Hitler, for his part, embraced Sibelius as a “pure” composer. Sibelius did nothing to encourage this, but his failure to denounce Hitler led many to assume that he held Nazi sympathies, despite a lack of evidence for such views.

In 1908, Sibelius was deep in debt, suffering from years of alcoholism, and desperately fearful about a throat tumor for which he underwent several operations (it turned out not to be cancer). His music turned much more introspective, especially his String Quartet, “Voces Intimae” (Intimate or Inner Voices).

The slow introduction (Andante) starts with a soulful dialogue, a duet between the violin and the cello. Soon all four instruments are involved, and the dark, passionate feeling builds. The tempo marking for the main part of the movement (Allegro molto moderato) is but one of numerous changes of speed and mood.

A brief Vivace (Lively) begins without pause, punctuating its intensity with tremolo (fast repeated bowing on each pitch) runs. Playful turns, pizzicato playing, and moments of silence add to the almost ethereal ambience of the movement.

Sibelius uses a five-movement format rather than the usual four. The long central Adagio di molto is thus framed by two faster movements, giving it greater importance. In the strong, even notes and plaintive melodies we hear the composer’s personal anguish. At the end of the movement, the cello is featured prominently, guiding the other instruments as they transform the emotional themes and motifs into closing material filled with peace and contentment.

The fourth movement is marked Allegretto (ma pesante)—fairly fast, but weighty. The use of triplets (three notes to a beat) would ordinarily give the movement the light feeling of a scherzo, but the minor key and strongly accented notes transform it into an intensely serious dance.

The finale (Allegro) is a tour de force, with rapid tremolo runs and a perpetuum mobile (perpetual motion) intensity. Sibelius dealt with both despair and hope in his life, and expressed that struggle in this quartet. When he had finished it, he wrote in his diary: “It’s glorious. The sort of thing that produces a smile even in the presence of death.”

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg.
It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy, publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at
Program Notes © 2017 by Miriam Villchur Berg

The Ladles


The Ladles

Original compositions plus tributes to Betty McDonald, Levon Helm and more.

Katie Martucci, protégé of Betty MacDonald, fiddle and guitar
Caroline Kuhn, tenor, banjo and vocals
Lucia Purpura-Pontoniere, fiddle and vocals

The Ladles

Katie Martucci: vocals and guitar
Caroline Kuhn: vocals and tenor banjo
Lucia Pontoniere: vocals and fiddle

FRIDAY, JULY 7, 2017, 8 pm


The program will be announced from the stage   |   There will be an intermission

About the Artists

The Ladles have three-part female harmony perfected, but their sound is more than that. They are an amalgamation of their respective histories and influences, blending swing, old-time, neo-soul, and contemporary choral music into a sound all their own. Using solely acoustic instrumentation and three voices, they create a dreamy otherworldly atmosphere that draws audiences in and demands attention. They quiet noisy bars and liven up staid concert halls.

Hailing from the rich musical history of the Catskill Mountains in New York State, Katie Martucci grew up singing and playing fiddle and guitar. The daughter of jazz pianist Vinnie Martucci, she began performing with her father at a young age. By the first grade, she was writing her own songs and playing for tips. Her musical journeys led her to the Ashokan Western and Swing Week Fiddle & Dance Camp, vocal lessons with Laurel Masse of Manhattan Transfer, a brief stint of collegiate a cappella at Skidmore College, and, ultimately, to the New England Conservatory. While at NEC, Katie studied voice, violin, and songwriting in the Contemporary Improvisation Department, and had the opportunity to work with Dominique Eade, Ran Blake, Hankus Netsky, Carla Kihlstedt, and Eden MacAdam-Somer. Since graduating in 2016, Katie has been on the move. She currently pays rent in New Orleans, but you’re more likely to find her out on the road, playing with Brooklyn-based band Goldfeather, sitting in with John Kirk and Trish Miller of Quickstep, or touring with The Ladles.

Caroline Kuhn grew up in the grit and bustle of the Upper West Side. She began her singing career at age four, recording jingles for radio and television. As Caroline’s voice became less marketable with the changing tides of the recording industry (and puberty), she joined the Young People’s Chorus of New York City. There, she had the opportunity to travel the world performing contemporary music by composers such as Meredith Monk and Michael Gordon. She attended LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and began learning tenor banjo to accompany her songwriting. She went on to the New England Conservatory, where she studied voice with Cristi Catt and Dominique Eade and continued to develop her theoretical musical intuition.

Lucia Pontoniere grew up in the diverse San Francisco Bay Area. The fourth of nine children, she was exposed to varied styles of music from a young age—everything from West African drumming to Balinese gamelan. At the age of six, she began competing in local fiddle competitions in the peewee division. Three years later, she was accepted to the Young Musician’s Program at UC Berkeley. There she studied with classical violinist Virginia Baker of the San Francisco Symphony and began a classical journey, attending Meadowmount School of Music in 2008. This continued on into high school, where she was awarded a scholarship to attend San Domenico School and play in the award-winning Orchestra da Camera. After playing and performing fiddle music around the Bay Area in a duo with her sister on banjo, Lucia decided she wanted to pursue music as a career. This led her to New England Conservatory’s contemporary improvisation department. However, realizing she wanted to delve deeper into fiddle music, she transferred to Berklee College of Music, where she is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in professional music with a concentration in violin performance. Lucia is constantly evolving as a musician—finding ways to mesh all the different parts of her life into her fiddle playing, and performing with the most honest voice she can bring to her music.

Katie, Caroline, and Lucia finally crossed paths in the fall of 2014 at New England Conservatory. At that point in time, they were the only women in the undergraduate contemporary improvisation program, and became close friends. Hours spent playing together in the dorms led to performances at friends’ house concerts and local Boston venues. By the following year, they were living together in Cambridge and performing as The Ladles (a name fashioned after an altered “ladies room” sign in Jordan Hall).

The Ladles released their first EP in the spring of 2016 and then spent the subsequent summer touring the Northeast, captivating audiences with their distinctive vocal harmonies and unique arrangements. They are gearing up for their second annual summer tour, and have plans to record their first full length album this coming winter.

In reviewing their EP release, Knar Bedian of the Sound of Boston wrote: “It’s not often that you find inspiration for a band moniker on the door of a public restroom. But a cheeky third floor restroom sign at NEC labelled The Ladles Restroom—an improvised edit by a male student too lazy to walk to the other end of the building—is exactly where The Ladles found their name.

“We’ve been keeping an eye on this female folk trio for a while now; we named them one of our Artists to Watch in 2016, and even had the privilege of recording some of the songs off this EP in our Neighborhood Session video series. The Ladles EP is the first official recorded release by these lovely local ladies, a mix of traditional folk, neo-soul-folk, and “downer love songs.” Though, if you’ve heard them live you’ll know that even those are somehow sung with a smile.

“Though the all-women band arrangement is something The Ladles take pride in, their final track (a jazzier number called “Kidding Me”) is proof they aren’t afraid to expand their sound when necessary, bringing on bassist Isaac Levien and drummer Aaron Edgcomb to build a stronger sense of rhythm. But even with the expanded setup, it’s the female vocals that are the driving force. Banjoist Caroline Kuhn and fiddle player Lucia Pontoniere lay down a bed of harmonies as Katie Martucci sings, ‘Don’t worry, I’m an artist, I’m sure I’ll turn this into something beautiful.’

“Well, they sure did.”


photo by Dan Kullman


Spektral Quartet

Augusta Read Thomas: Chi, for string quartet (2017) (New York premiere)
Gerard McBurney: String Quartet No.1, “Hildegard Quartet” (1996)(World premiere)
Philip Glass: String Quartet No. 2, “Company”
Ravel: String Quartet in F Major

A Maverick Debut
The New Foundations project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Spektral Quartet

Clara Lyon, violin
Maeve Feinberg, violin
Doyle Armbrust, viola
Russell Rolen, cello

SATURDAY, JULY 8, 2017, 8 pm

Maverick Debut
New Foundations IV
New Foundations: Toward a Modern Chamber Music Repertoire is a mini-festival of chamber music composed  in the last thirty years. The series is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Chi, for String Quartet (2017)   |  Augusta Read Thomas (b. 1964)
New York Premiere, Commissioned by Spektral Quartet
I: CHI – vital life force
II: AURA – atmospheres, colors, vibrations
III: MERIDIANS – zeniths
IV: CHAKRAS – center of spiritual power in the body

String Quartet No. 1, “Hildegard” (1996)   |  Gerard McBurney (b. 1954)
World Premiere

String Quartet No. 2, “Company” (1983)  |   Phillip Glass (b. 1937)
I. = 96
II. = 160
III. = 96
IV. = 160
Performed in honor of the composers eightieth birthday.


String Quartet in F Major (1903) | Maurice Ravel (1875–1937)
Allegro moderato—très doux
Assez vif—Très rythmé
Très lent
Vif et agité

About the Artists

Spektral Quartet actively pursues a vivid conversation between exhilarating works of the traditional canon and those written this decade, this year, or this week. Gramophone described its most recent album as “highly interactive, creative, and collaborative…unlike anything its intended audience—or anyone else—has ever heard.” Spektral is known for creating seamless connections across the centuries, drawing in the listener with charismatic deliveries, interactive concert formats, an up-close atmosphere, and bold, inquisitive programming.

The foursome’s most ambitious recording project to date, Serious Business, was released in 2016 and nominated for a 2017 Grammy award. Alex Ross of The New Yorker called it “a delirious new record,” and Serious Business is indeed an intrepid exploration of the many-sided face of humor in classical music, featuring vibrant premieres of music by stunning young composers Sky Macklay, David Reminick, and Chris Fisher-Lochhead, paired with a centuries-old gut-buster, Haydn’s Quartet Op. 33 No. 2, “The Joke.”

The quartet’s multi-city tour of Beat Furrer’s String Quartet No. 3 and Bagatellen, a new work by Hans Thomalla, “proved that they have everything: a supreme technical command that seems to come easily, a capacity to make complicated music clear, and, most notably on this occasion, an ability to cast a magic spell” (The New York Times).

Spektral Quartet enthusiastically seeks out vehicles to bring classical music into the sphere of everyday life, prioritizing immersion and inclusivity through close-proximity seating and intimate, unconventional venues. Major upcoming projects include Morton Feldman’s notorious six-hour String Quartet No. 2 at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art and the Toledo Art Museum; the quartet’s Italian debut in Rome; the recording of new works by composer Anthony Cheung; and a major new initiative on Chicago’s South Side in collaboration with multidisciplinary artist Theaster Gates. The season will also see dynamic new programs pairing works of Ravel, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn with the voices of emerging composers, and new works by George Lewis, Augusta Read Thomas, Samuel Adams, and Tomeka Reid.

The ensemble is regarded for forward-thinking endeavors such as Mobile Miniatures, which rallied, from across the nation, more than forty composers, including David Lang, Augusta Read Thomas, Nico Muhly, and Shulamit Ran, to write ringtone-length pieces available for download to mobile devices. As ardent advocates for new music in their home city, the group recorded its debut album, Chambers (Parlour Tapes+), in 2013, featuring works by dynamic, Chicago-based composers. Other discography includes a recording with Third Coast Percussion of Selene, an octet by Augusta Read Thomas for the album Of Being Is a Bird; and From This Point Forward, an exploration of nuevo tango and Latin jazz with bandoneon virtuoso Julien Labro. It is central to Spektral Quartet’s mission to cultivate a love of, and curiosity for, unfamiliar sonic territory and exceptional works of the past among the next generation of string players. Currently ensemble-in-residence at the University of Chicago, the quartet has also participated in residencies at the New World Symphony (Miami Beach), Stanford University, Northwestern University, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and the Walden School (New York City), among others.

About the Music

Augusta Read Thomas has been honored with numerous awards, including a Guggenheim fellowship, a Grammy, and membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has been Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony, and established the MusicNOW series (programming the work of many living composers), as well as of the Ear Taxi Festival (celebrating the new music scene in Chicago). She is the sixteenth ever University Professor (one of five current University Professors) at The University of Chicago. Her discography includes seventy-five commercially recorded CDs.

The composer writes: “The Chinese refer to the vital life force energy of the universe, present within every living thing, as ‘Chi.’ Chi is the energy of life itself, recognized as the balance of Yin and Yang (male and female, positive and negative), which flows through everything in creation. The power of Chi emits soulful colors (the Aura), giving expressive vibrational frequency, and sound. Chi flows through the body pathways—known as Meridians (highpoints) and Chakras (deep, subtle spiritual nodes of the essential center)—of all living forms. The music is dedicated with admiration and gratitude to Elizabeth Davenport and the Spektral Quartet.”

Gerard McBurney studied at Cambridge and at the Moscow Conservatory. As a musicologist, he has written many books on Russian and Soviet music, and has reconstructed lost and forgotten works of Dmitri Shostakovich. From 2006 to 2016, he was the Creative Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s informational program Beyond the Score. He has produced more than two dozen documentaries for the BBC. His compositions include orchestral works, a ballet, a chamber opera, songs, and chamber music, as well as many theater scores.

Of his String Quartet No. 1, “Hildegard,” the composer writes: “In the early 1990s I was commissioned to research and script a documentary film about the life and music of the twelfth-century German mystic Hildegard of Bingen, sometimes called Europe’s first composer. She wrote the words and the music, which came to her in a single vision. The Sequences are a single line of plainsong (there was no known harmony or counterpoint in her world).

“The Kronos Quartet asked me to make a version of them for string quartet. The first movement of the quartet half-evokes the very first known harmony in Western music, the beautiful organum of the Paris school one hundred years after Hildegard lived. It is an Easter hymn of gratitude to the Virgin Mary, comparing her to a flower.

“The second one is a dramatic lament for the disaster of the Fall. Hildegard says that Adam and Eve ‘erubuerint’ [‘they blushed or reddened’]. I imagined the hot shame on their cheeks as a kind of fire or lava, as they contemplate the damage they have done to human destiny.

“And the third one is a vision of the whole cosmos with all the stars—an invention on the old idea of the Music of the Spheres, and the endless turning of the spheres. So the drama is: a flower; a flame; a starlit night.

“When I delivered the score, the Kronos performed the first and last movements once each on separate occasions. Then their projects took them in a different direction. So this piece, which is one of my own pieces which I love the most, has never been performed as I intended, and a performance at the Maverick would be a world première. I have never been to the Maverick but as its famous stage is in the open air, I have a sweet notion that we might hear birdsong and rustling leaves as well as the notes I wrote!”

Philip Glass has written that the string quartet is the most intimate and introspective of musical forms. “It’s almost as if we say we’re going to write a string quartet, we take a deep breath, and we wade in to try to write the most serious, significant piece that we can.” Instead of words to describe the tempi of the four movements, Glass provides metronome markings.

The composer writes: “Company is the name of a short novel by Samuel Beckett which was adapted for the stage and performed as a monologue. Beckett gave permission for me to compose an original musical score for the piece. The medium of the string quartet allows for both an introspective and passionate quality well suited to the text. Beckett picked four places in the work, and the pieces written for those places have turned out to be a thematically cohesive work which now, as my String Quartet No.2, has taken on a life of its own.”

Maurice Ravel completed his only string quartet ten years after Debussy completed his only work in the same genre. Ravel dedicated it, the Quartet in F Major, to Gabriel Fauré, his teacher at the Paris Conservatoire.

The Allegro moderato starts with a warm melody in the violin, while the other three instruments play a repeated pattern that rises slowly in pitch over several measures, then descends. The inner voices are important, even though the violin has the melody. In the development, the theme is fragmented into motivic elements that can serve as melody or accompaniment.

In the second movement (Assez vif, Fairly lively), Ravel makes extensive use of pizzicato and syncopation. The short repeated phrases are climaxed by a bowed trill in the first violin that leaps up one octave and then another. After the second, slower, legato theme, the cello announces, with a plucked introduction, that the pizzicato section is returning.

The viola has the lead for much of the slow movement (Très lent, Very slow). The many rich melodies are all connected to the short motif that opens the movement. Brief repeated phrases abound, and the hypnotic repetitions are offset by moments of intensity. The movement ends with a lullaby-like final cadence.

Loud, repeated notes wake us up for the finale (Vif et agité, Lively and agitated). The viola plays low in its range, followed by the cello playing high in its range. Sweeter melodies return, and there is a struggle between forceful and gentle, soft and loud, consonant and dissonant. Finally, all four instruments play as one, using parallel chords up the notes of the triad, reestablishing the basic elements out of which this music is formed.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg.
It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy, publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at
Program Notes © 2017 by Miriam Villchur Berg


photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco


Chiara String Quartet

Britten: Three Divertimenti (1933)
Aaron Jay Kernis: String Quartet No. 1, “musica celestis”  (winner of the Pulitzer Prize)
Brahms: Quartet No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 51

A Maverick Debut
The New Foundations project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Chiara String Quartet

Rebecca Fischer, violin
Hyeyung Julie Yoon, violin
Jonah Sirota, viola
Gregory Beaver, cello

SUNDAY, JULY 9, 2017, 4 pm

Maverick Debut

New Foundations IV
New Foundations: Toward a Modern Chamber Music Repertoire is a mini-festival of chamber music composed  in the last thirty years. The series is

The second of Seven Programs this Season Honoring the Composers Aaron Jay Kernis,
Johannes Brahms, and Antonín Dvořák


Three Divertimenti (1936, publ. posthumously in 1983) | Benjamin Britten (1913–1976)
I: March: Allegro maestoso
Waltz: Allegretto
Burlesque: Presto

String Quartet No. 1, “Hildegard” (1996)   |  Gerard McBurney (b. 1954)
World Premiere

String Quartet No. 1, “Musica Celestis” (1990) | Aaron Jay Kernis (b. 1960)
Musica celestis
Quasi una danza


String Quartet No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 51, No. 1 (1866–1873) | Johannes Brahms (1833–1897)
Romanze: Poco adagio
Allegretto molto moderato e comodo – un poco più animato

About the Artists

The Chiara String Quartet performs internationally from its base in Lincoln, Nebraska. The group is the Quartet-in-Residence at the School of Music in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The group is also in residence as faculty at the Greenwood Music Camp, a summer program in Massachusetts for advanced high school musicians.

The quartet has made a name for itself performing from memory, without printed scores. Their most recent album, Brahms by Heart: The Three String Quartets of Johannes Brahms, was recorded without sheet music. The quartet has also recorded the six string quartets of Béla Bartók, performing by heart.

In addition to traditional concertizing, in December 2006 the group began performing in bars and other venues where classical string quartets are rarely found, under the tagline “Chamber music in any chamber.” This has brought them into bars such as The Brick in Kansas City, Missouri; Rose in Brooklyn; Avogadro’s Number in Fort Collins, Colorado; and Avantgarden in Houston, Texas.

The quartet’s professional career started in 2000 with a Chamber Music America Rural Residency grant, placing the group in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where they lived until 2002. The group won the Senior String Gold Medal in the 2002 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, was a winner of the 2002 Astral Artistic Services National Auditions, and was selected as the Lisa Arnholdt graduate string quartet at the Juilliard School from 2003 to 2005. The quartet also won third prize in the 2005 Premio Paolo Borciani.

In addition to the Rural Residency grant that began their career, the group has been the recipient of a commissioning grant and three residency partnership grants from CMA, and a Meet the Composer grant.

The quartet’s recording Jefferson Friedman: Quartets was nominated for a Grammy, and their recording of the Brahms and Mozart clarinet quintets was a Hot Pick of October 2006 for NET Radio. The quartet’s performance at Meany Hall in December 2007 was selected as one of the highlights of the year by Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s R.M. Campbell.

From its beginning as a professional ensemble, the Chiara has actively commissioned new works for string quartet. Composer Jefferson Friedman wrote his second quartet for the group in 1999, when they were still students, and his third quartet for them in 2005. Gabriela Lena Frank composed her Leyendas, an Andean Walkabout for String Quartet for the group in 2001, and her Ghosts in the Dream Machine piano quintet for the Chiara Quartet and pianist Simone Dinnerstein in 2005. Robert Sirota wrote his Triptych, a commemoration of the victims of the September 11 attacks, for the quartet in 2002.

The Chiara Quartet has developed extensive educational programs, including a musical version of David McPhail’s Mole Music as well as several programs developed in concert with Young Audiences of New York between 2002 and 2004. The group has worked with Eric Booth extensively, and is mentioned in his book, The Music Teaching Artist’s Bible: Becoming a Virtuoso Educator (Oxford University Press, 2009). While on the roster of Astral Artistic Services, the quartet undertook a large-scale, multi-visit residency at the Rhoads School in Philadelphia, sponsored by a Chamber Music America Residency Partnership grant.

About the Music

Benjamin Britten always knew that he wanted to make his living as a composer of music. In 1935, Britten got his first job, composing music for the GPO (General Post Office) Film Unit. He had the opportunity of working with painters, film directors, and poets, including W.H. Auden, who became a close friend and later a collaborator when both were in the United States. He began a five-movement string quartet, but decided to cut two movements and publish the remainder as Three Divertimenti for String Quartet.

The work opens with a March, a genre Britten returned to very often during his career. Marked Allegro maestoso, the movement moves through a series of rising and falling lines that impel the music forward, with the raw sound of open fourths, like the open strings of the instruments that are heard when they are tuning up. In the Waltz (Allegretto), the first violin and viola play lyrical lines with pizzicato (plucked) accompaniment. The cello takes the lead, and the relaxed pace gives way to a somewhat hectic feeling. The final Burlesque is a fast (it’s marked Presto) playful romp, but with an edge. As with many of Britten’s works, a calm surface barely conceals a mysterious undercurrent.

The works of Aaron Jay Kernis have been performed by major orchestras and soloists around the US, including the New York Philharmonic, Joshua Bell, and Sharon Isbin. He is the recipient of the 2002 Grawemeyer Award in Music Composition and a Grammy nomination, and is one of the youngest composers to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize, which he won in 1998 for his String Quartet No. 2. Kernis is a member of the faculty of the Yale School of Music. He has said his music is influenced by greats such as Bach, Mahler, and Brahms, but also by Bernstein, who was willing to mingle serious and popular culture and, as Kernis says, because he was “looking for a kind of visceral energy in music, a kind of grab-you-by-the-lapel experience.”

Of his String Quartet No. 1, Musica Celestis, the composer wrote: “Composing this quartet has been an exhilarating experience for me…. If anyone had told me five or even two years ago that I’d write a classically structured work in the future, I’d have suggested (politely) that they see a helpful and friendly doctor…. But I love the emotional inclusiveness of music of the past and have grown weary of the intellectualization that has limited the expression and communicativeness of so much music in this century. I want everything to be included in music: soaring melody, consonance, tension, dissonance, drive, relaxation, color, strong harmony, and form—and for every possible emotion to be elicited actively by the passionate use of those elements.

“As I began writing it, I found that the musical ideas that I chose to work with demanded extensive development and a well-shaped harmonic basis for that development. This led me, with great reservations at first and even greater disbelief, to the use of sonata form. This felt especially new to me since so much of my work in the past derived its inspiration from images or texts. What convinced me to use the form, however, was the organic way that it developed from the musical ideas themselves.

“The form of the first movement follows the traditional exposition-development-recapitulation “formula.” The second movement, Musica celestis, is inspired by the medieval conception of the singing of the angels in heaven in praise of God without end. I don’t particularly believe in angels, but found this to be a potent image that has been reinforced by listening to a good deal of medieval music, especially the soaring work of Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). This movement follows a simple, spacious melody and harmonic pattern through a number of variations (like a passacaglia) and modulations, and is framed by an introduction and codas. The Scherzo is made of bits and scraps of things, while the Trio is based on a nonexistent ländler. The fourth movement, Quasi una danza, begins in a halting fashion but develops a dance-like sense as it goes on.

Johannes Brahms destroyed twenty string quartets that failed to meet his standards before allowing the String Quartet in C Minor, Op. 51, No. 1, to be published. Brahms is known for his cyclic structure and thematic economy—he uses versions of the same motifs in each movement as unifying devices. The first movement (Allegro) opens with a rising arpeggio that starts with the first three notes of the C minor scale (C – D – E-flat). Those three notes, as well as the rising chord, are used throughout the quartet. The throbbing accompaniment runs through much of the piece, creating a sharp contrast between the fast figuration and the slower thematic line. The movement ends with the counterpart to the driving arpeggio—a calm, slow, descending line that takes the chord back down to the root.

The slow movement (Romanze—Poco adagio) starts with the same rising notes with the second and third repeated, changed to major, and taken up a fifth to G – A – B. This new theme and rhythm are developed, and other themes are added, sometimes using the same rhythms, and sometimes using the first theme as accompaniment. Although he employs intricate and complicated musical techniques, Brahms never lets the requirements of classical form get in the way of the beauty or expressiveness of his melodies.

Despite its ABA structure, the third movement (Allegretto molto moderato e comodo—moderately fast and comfortable) has one characteristic that makes it unusual for a Scherzo. Instead of being in a triple meter (such as 3/4, 3/8, or even 6/8), it is in a duple meter, that is, one in which the primary beat and all the subdivisions of that beat are an even number. Brahms again employs the theme from the first movement, back in C minor, this time turned upside down. The Trio section, following the more normal pattern of a 3/4 meter, is a ländler, an Austrian folk dance like a country waltz.

The Finale (Allegro) gathers all the melodic and rhythmic motifs from the various movements and recombines them. The first notes are nearly the same as those that started the work, but played high, loud, and in unison. A driving rhythm moves the piece forward to its dramatic conclusion.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg.
It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy, publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at
Program Notes © 2017 by Miriam Villchur Berg

Bill Charlap Trio

photo by Carol Friedman


Bill Charlap Trio

Grammy award winning jazz great returns to the Maverick by popular demand.

The Bill Charlap Trio

Bill Charlap, piano
Peter Washington, double bass
Kenny Washington, drums

SATURDAY, JULY 15, 2017, 8 pm

Jazz at the Maverick


The program will be announced from the stage.
There will be an intermission.

About the Artists

Bill Charlap grew up in a musical household, the son of Broadway songwriter Moose Charlap and singer Sandy Stewart. Taking to the piano at a young age, he went on to study at New York’s High School of Performing Arts. He then entered college, but rather than finishing, opted to practice and gig on his own. Pianist Bill Mays soon took up Charlap’s cause, recommending the young man as his replacement in the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. During this time, Charlap also worked with Benny Carter, Clark Terry, and Frank Wess, and was sought after as an accompanist for singers such as Tony Bennett, Carol Sloane, and Sheila Jordan. In 1995, he secured one of the most coveted piano chairs in jazz, with the Phil Woods Quintet.

All the while, Charlap showed steady development as a leader. His debut came in 1994 with Along with Me, followed by Souvenir in 1995 and Distant Star in 1996. His 1997 release, All Through the Night, was the first to feature his current trio, with the redoubtable (and unrelated) Washingtons, Peter and Kenny, on bass and drums, respectively. In 2000, this lineup had its major-label breakthrough with the highly acclaimed Blue Note disc Written in the Stars. Two albums appeared in 2001: 2Gether with Warren Vaché and Contrasts with Jon Gordon. ’S Wonderful hit the shelves in 2002, as did Stardust, which began a series of albums that each focused on a single composer. Stardust featured the music of Hoagy Carmichael; 2004’s Somewhere was an all-Leonard Bernstein affair; while 2005’s Plays George Gershwin featured ten songs by the man Charlap considers “the American soul.” 2005 also saw the release of an album with Sandy Stewart, Love Is Here to Stay. Two years later, Charlap released Live at the Village Vanguard.

Bill Charlap has performed and recorded with many leading artists of our time, including jazz masters Gerry Mulligan, Benny Carter, Phil Woods, and Wynton Marsalis as well as singers Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand. Since 1997, he has led the Bill Charlap Trio, now recognized as one of the leading groups in jazz. Charlap is the artistic director of the Jazz in July Festival at the 92nd Street Y, and he has produced concerts for Jazz at Lincoln Center, the JVC Jazz Festival, and the Hollywood Bowl.

Charlap appears at least twice a year for lengthy runs at some of the world’s major jazz clubs, including gigs at the Village Vanguard with the Bill Charlap Trio. Since 2001, Charlap has also recorded as a member of the New York Trio, with bassist Jay Leonhart and drummer Bill Stewart, for the Japanese label Venus Records.

In 2008, Charlap became part of The Blue Note 7, a septet formed that year in honor of the seventieth anniversary of Blue Note Records. The group recorded an album titled Mosaic, which was released in 2009 on Blue Note Records/EMI, then toured the United States in promotion of the album from January until April 2009. The group plays the music of Blue Note Records from various artists, with arrangements by members of the band and Charlap’s wife, Renee Rosnes.

In 2010, Charlap and Rosnes released Double Portrait, a duo piano recording on the Blue Note label. Speaking about the album, Charlap says, “You’re looking for magic moments more than you’re looking for a ‘perfect chorus.’ We’re lucky to have the recording process to document those moments that would just disappear into thin air. It’s exciting to capture something spontaneous that only happens once. There are many of those moments on this recording.”

Time magazine noted in a review that Charlap “approaches a song the way a lover approaches his beloved. He wants to view it from every angle—melody, harmony, lyrics, verse.”

Peter Washington initially played classical bass, and performed with the Westchester Community Symphony at the age of fourteen. Later he worked with electric bass and in rock bands. He went on to study English at the University of California, Berkeley, where he became interested in jazz and began freelancing in the San Francisco Bay area. In 1986 Washington joined the Jazz Messengers and moved to New York City. Since then he has worked in the Tommy Flanagan trio and with Bill Charlap, and was a founding member of the collective hard bop sextet One for All. In 2008, Washington became part of The Blue Note 7. Mosaic was released in 2009 on Blue Note Records/EMI, and Washington toured the United States with the ensemble to promote the album. He has played with Art Blakey, Kenny Burrell, Tommy Flanagan, Dizzy Gillespie, and many other jazz luminaries.

Drummer Kenny Washington studied at The High School of Music & Art, graduating in 1976. He has worked with many distinguished musicians, including Ronnie Mathews, Lee Konitz, Betty Carter, Johnny Griffin, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, George Cables, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Sonny Stitt, James Spaulding, Phil Woods, Bill Charlap, Bobby Watson, Curtis Lundy, and Tommy Flanagan. He currently plays with Ahmad Jamal, replacing Idris Muhammad. He has recorded with Bill Charlap on at least eight albums, and played on other CDs with Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Konitz, and Joshua Redman.

Parker Quartet


Parker Quartet

Stravinsky: Concertino for String Quartet
Aaron Jay Kernis: String Quartet No. 2, “musica instrumentalis” (1997)
Brahms: String Quartet No. 3 B flat major, Op. 67

New Foundations VI
The New Foundations project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Parker Quartet

Daniel Chong, violin
Ying Xue, violin
Jessica Bodner, viola
Kee-Hyun Kim, cello

SUNDAY, JULY 16, 2017, 4 pm

Maverick Debut

New Foundations IV
New Foundations: Toward a Modern Chamber Music Repertoire is a mini-festival of chamber music composed  in the last thirty years. The series is

The third of Seven Programs this Season Honoring the Composers Aaron Jay Kernis, Johannes Brahms, and Antonín Dvořák


Concertino for String Quartet (1920) | Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
String Quartet No. 2, “musica instrumentalis” (1997) | Aaron Jay Kernis (b. 1960)


String Quartet No. 3 in B-Flat Major, Op. 67 (1876) | Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Agitato (Allegretto non troppo) — Trio — Coda
Poco Allegretto con Variazioni

About the Artists

Inspiring performances, luminous sound, and exceptional musicianship are the hallmarks of the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet. Renowned for its dynamic interpretations and polished, expansive colors, the group has rapidly distinguished itself as one of the preeminent ensembles of its generation. In demand worldwide, the Quartet has appeared at the most important venues worldwide since its founding in 2002.

The 2016 summer season had the ensemble crossing North America for appearances at music festivals including the season opener at the Rockport Chamber Music Festival in Massachusetts with pianist Menahem Pressler; the Rite of Music Festival on New York City’s Governor’s Island; Vermont’s Yellow Barn Festival; the Toronto Summer Music Festival; the Garth Newell Music Center in Virginia; the Skaneateles Festival in upstate New York; and the San Miguel de Allende International Chamber Music Festival in Mexico.

Recent highlights include “The Schubert Effect” project in collaboration with pianist Shai Wosner at the 92nd Street Y; the premiere of a new string quartet by American composer Augusta Read Thomas as part of the Quartet’s four-concert series at Harvard University; a performance as part of the Lincoln Center Great Performers series; a concert in the Slee Series at SUNY Buffalo with jazz pianist Billy Childs; and appearances at Carnegie Hall and the Library of Congress. The Quartet also continues to be a strong supporter of violist Kim Kashkashian’s project Music for Food by participating in concerts throughout the United States for the benefit of various food banks and shelters.

The Quartet’s debut commercial recording, Bartók’s String Quartets Nos. 2 and 5, won praise from Gramophone. Their recording of György Ligeti’s complete works for string quartet won the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance. In 2015, the group released the world premiere recording of American composer Jeremy Gill’s Capriccio, which was written for the Quartet through a Chamber Music America commissioning grant. In 2016 they released the world premiere recording of Augusta Read Thomas’s Helix Spirals for string quartet.

Recent collaborations include violist Kim Kashkashian, violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, pianists Anne-Marie McDermott and Shai Wosner, Kikuei Ikeda of the Tokyo String Quartet, clarinetist and composer Jörg Widmann, and clarinetist Charles Neidich.

Founded and currently based in Boston, the Parker Quartet’s numerous honors include winning the Concert Artists Guild Competition, the Grand Prix and Mozart Prize at France’s Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition, and Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award. Now Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Department of Music, and also in residence at USC School of Music, the Quartet’s numerous residencies have included the University of St. Thomas, the University of Minnesota, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and as the first-ever artists-in-residence with Minnesota Public Radio.

The Parker Quartet’s members hold graduate degrees in performance and chamber music from the New England Conservatory of Music and were part of the conservatory’s Professional String Quartet Training Program from 2006 through 2008. Some of their most influential mentors include the original members of the Cleveland Quartet, Kim Kashkashian, composer and pianist György Kurtág, and violinist Rainer Schmidt.

About the Music

Igor Stravinsky’s father was an operatic bass in St. Petersburg, but allowed his son to study music only on the condition that he also study law. When his father died in 1902, Stravinsky dropped the law courses and became the private student of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov during the last three years of that composer’s life. Stravinsky’s early works caught the attention of the renowned ballet impresario Serge Diaghilev, and he asked Stravinsky to compose works for his Ballets Russes, then in residence in Paris. In three years, Stravinsky composed The Firebird, Petrushka, and The Rite of Spring (which was so shockingly innovative that there was a near riot at its premiere). Later in his life, Stravinsky’s music evolved through a neo-Classical stage, a period of composing religious music that incorporated medieval and Renaissance concepts, and a final period of serialism. Each of these styles was incorporated into his distinctive and unique musical voice.

Stravinsky was asked by Alfred Pochon, leader of the New York City-based Flonzaley Quartet, to write a piece for them to play on tour. Stravinsky writes: “M. Pochon wished to introduce a contemporary work into their almost exclusively classical repertoire, and asked me to write them an ensemble piece, in form and length of my own choosing, to appear in the programs of their numerous tours. So it was for them that I composed my Concertino, a piece in one single movement, treated in the form of a free sonata allegro with a definitely concertante part for the first violin.”

Although it is in one movement, the Concertino for String Quartet has sections of varying tempos, including two Andantes. The instruments play double stops (two notes with one bowing) throughout much of the work, giving it a thick texture that is in keeping with its rhythmic drive. Meter marks change sometimes from measure to measure, going from 2/4 to 11/4 and everything in between. The first violin is given a cadenza, with the sparest of accompaniment. Later in his career, Stravinsky arranged the work for solo violin with a small chamber ensemble as the ripieno (the role the orchestra takes in a concerto).

Aaron Jay Kernis studied the violin as a child, but at age twelve set about teaching himself piano and then composition. He studied at several major American conservatories, under important contemporary composers such as John Adams and Charles Wuorinen, but his style is his own. He has been given countless major commissions and awards, and his new compositions are eagerly anticipated by critics and audiences alike. Although he writes in a modern musical language, he incorporates familiar elements, including the sounds of classical and popular music, making his compositions very accessible. The String Quartet No. 2, “musica instrumentalis,” won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998.

The composer writes: “My Second String Quartet uses elements of Renaissance and Baroque dance music and dance forms as its basis and its inspiration. I have been playing various suites of Bach’s and pieces from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book at the piano for my own pleasure for years, and I think that I had suspected for some time that their influence would eventually show up in my work.

“The first movement is a kaleidoscope, an overstuffed medley of many types of dances played separately and sometimes simultaneously. It is in three large sections. The first section is an exposition of many different strands of energetic music, while the second opposes two gentler dances, a canzonetta and a musette. The final section brings back most of the diverse elements from the opening in many varied guises and leads to a climactic uncovering of a simple direct version of the main tune of the movement.

“The second movement alternates two different slow sarabandes (a stately dance in triple time) with short bursts of frenetic, furious music. It is dedicated to the memory of Bette Snapp, a much-loved supporter of new music, and composers who passed away as the movement was being written.

“The final movement is based in some fundamental ways on the last movement of Beethoven’s Opus 59, No. 3, String Quartet. It is a propulsive and energetic double fugue, tarantella, rondo, gigue, and eventually a triple fugue, all wrapped in an overarching sonata form.”

Some composers, such as Beethoven and Stravinsky, are innovators, taking music into new and uncharted territories. Others, such as J.S. Bach, are synthesizers, refining the musical style of the day into an art form that exemplifies the era. Johannes Brahms was both. He sought to emulate the masters of the Baroque and Classical eras, at the same time introducing a harmonic language unlike anything that had ever been heard before.

Brahms’s last string quartet, the String Quartet No. 3 in B-Flat Major, Op. 67, has been nicknamed “The Horn,” for the sounds imitating the calls of hunting horns in the opening section. The first movement (Vivace) is lively in several ways: a fast tempo, a 6/8 meter, and bouncy dotted rhythms. At several points Brahms inserts pregnant pauses that announce dramatic shifts between the opening staccato theme and the lyrical countersubject.

Brahms was a consummate composer of vocal and choral music, and we see that skill in the slow movement (Andante). The opening melody is so cantabile (singable) that we may feel there should be lyrics. After a section of more forceful phrases that are traded back and forth within the ensemble, the movement ends as sweetly as it began, with a plagal cadence (like the “Amen” appended to a hymn).

For much of the third movement (Agitato: Allegretto non troppo), the viola plays the melody, with all the other instruments muted. It is in a triple meter, and there is a contrasting trio section, but that is where the resemblance to a classical minuet ends. Instead of the charming, measured, and predictable style of a dance movement, it has lopsided rhythms, syncopations, and an occasional competing duple meter. The Trio again gives the viola the lead, with the other parts playing a stop-and-start lilting accompaniment.

The final movement (Poco Allegretto con Variazione) makes use of one of Brahms’ favorite musical formats, the theme and variations. Although this type of musical organization had been common since the Renaissance, Brahms took the form in entirely new directions. Sometimes the original melody is barely recognizable, and all that remains is the phrasing and the harmonic underpinning (the chordal progressions). After several variations, he reintroduces the hunting horn motif from the first movement, replays the variation theme, and ends by seamlessly integrating the two.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg.
It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy, publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at
Program Notes © 2017 by Miriam Villchur Berg

jasper quartet

photo by Vanessa Briceno Scherzer


Jasper String Quartet

New Foundations VII
Haydn: String Quartet in G Major, Op. 76, No. 1
Aaron Jay Kernis: String Quartet No. 3, “River” (2015)
Brahms: String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 51, No. 2

A Maverick Debut
The New Foundations project is supported in part by a  grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Jasper String Quartet

J Freivogel, violin
Sae Chonabayashi, violin
Sam Quintal, viola
Rachel Henderson Freivogel, cello

SUNDAY, JULY 23, 2017, 4 pm

Maverick Debut
New Foundations IV
New Foundations: Toward a Modern Chamber Music Repertoire is a mini-festival of chamber music composed  in the last thirty years. The series is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Fourth of Seven Programs this Season Honoring Aaron Jay Kernis, Johannes Brahms, and Antonín Dvořák


String Quartet in G Major, Op. 76, No. 1 (1797) | Joseph Haydn (1732–1809)
Allegro con spirito
Adagio sostenuto
Menuetto: Presto
Finale: Allegro ma non troppo

String Quartet No. 3, “River” (2015) | Aaron Jay Kernis (b. 1960)
World Premiere


String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 51, No. 2 (1873) | Johannes Brahms (1833–1897)
Allegro non troppo
Andante moderato
Quasi minuetto, moderato — Allegretto vivace
Finale: Allegro non assai

About the Artists

Winner of the CMA Cleveland Quartet Award, Philadelphia’s Jasper String Quartet is the Professional Quartet in Residence at Temple University’s Center for Gifted Young Musicians.

The Jaspers have been hailed as “sonically delightful and expressively compelling” (The Strad) and “powerful” (The New York Times). “The Jaspers… match their sounds perfectly, as if each swelling chord were coming out of a single, impossibly well-tuned organ, instead of four distinct instruments.” (New Haven Advocate)

The Quartet rounds out their commission tour of Aaron Jay Kernis’ third String Quartet, “River,” in 2016-2017, with performances at Wigmore Hall and at Classic Chamber Concerts in Florida. The Quartet’s Carnegie Hall performance of the work received a glowing review in The Strad.

In 2008, the Jaspers swept through the competition circuit, winning the Grand Prize and the Audience Prize in the Plowman Chamber Music Competition, the Grand Prize at the Coleman Competition, First Prize at Chamber Music Yellow Springs, and the Silver Medal at the 2008 and 2009 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. They were also the first ensemble honored with Yale School of Music’s Horatio Parker Memorial Prize, an award established in 1945 and selected by the faculty for “best fulfilling… lofty musical ideals.” In 2010, they joined the roster of Astral Artists after winning their national audition.

The Quartet was the 2010-2012 Ensemble-in-Residence at Oberlin Conservatory and, in conjunction with Astral Artists, was awarded a 2012 Chamber Music America grant through its Residency Partnership Program for work in Philadelphia schools. From 2009 to 2011, the Jaspers were the Ernst C. Stiefel String Quartet in Residence at the Caramoor Center. They were the first ensemble to be invited for a second year as such.

The Jaspers perform pieces that are emotionally significant to its members; the Quartet’s repertoire ranges from Haydn and Beethoven through Berg, Ligeti, and living composers. They have commissioned string quartets from some of today’s best composers, including Aaron Jay Kernis, Andrew Norman, Nicholas Omiccioli, Conrad Tao, and Annie Gosfield. Critics and audiences commend the Jasper String Quartet’s “programming savvy” ( They have performed throughout the United States and in Canada, England, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, and Panama.

In their Melba and Orville Rollefson Residency at the Banff Centre, the Jaspers embarked on a program of “guerrilla chamber music,” performing concerts in unusual settings around Alberta, Canada. Currently, the quartet works closely with Philadelphia’s Astral Artists to bring outreach activities to schools.

In addition, this year they launch the inaugural season of Jasper Chamber Concerts, a series in Philadelphia devoted to world-class performances of masterworks from around the world.

Formed at Oberlin Conservatory, the Jaspers began pursuing a professional career in 2006. Their principal mentors were James Dunham and the Tokyo String Quartet, with whom they studied as Yale University’s Graduate Quartet-in-Residence.

The Jasper String Quartet is named after Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. The quartet has released four highly acclaimed albums: Beethoven Op. 131; The Kernis Project: Schubert; The Kernis Project: Beethoven; and an album of works by contemporary composers, Unbound.

About the Music

Haydn’s Opus 76 was his first published work as an unencumbered composer. In the 1790s, freed from his responsibilities at the court of Esterházy, he traveled twice to London. He was financially secure, and famous throughout Europe. He composed these works in 1799 on commission from Count Joseph Erdödy, court chancellor to the Esterhazy.

The String Quartet in G Major, Op. 76, No. 1, the first of the set of six, starts with three strong introductory chords. When the first movement proper (Allegro con spirito) starts, the cello announces the simple, cheerful theme—like a peasant tune or a children’s song. Despite its light-hearted quality, Haydn treats it with complete seriousness, as if to say he could spin music out of anything. The strings play in many varied textures: unison, chords together, melody with accompaniment, and dialogue, ending with a majestic cadence.

The slow second movement (Adagio sostenuto) starts with a gentle theme played like a chorale or hymn. A new melody is presented in a dialogue between the violin and the cello. In the development section, the dialogue theme is played in minor, modulated into different keys, and broken into single notes. The return of the chorale theme marks the end of the development, and the dialogue takes over until the cello plays a gentle arpeggio up and down the chord to the ending.

The Menuetto is marked Presto, an unusually quick tempo, probably too fast to accompany an actual dance. By this point in music history, the evolution from minuet to scherzo had taken place in form, if not always in name. Haydn’s playfulness comes out in the surprise of a quintuplet—five very fast notes—played loud and insistently in the midst of the tripping tune. The central Trio section has a plucked accompaniment, like a strummed folk instrument, and the violin plays a rustic melody, like the country waltz known as a ländler.

Haydn starts the Finale: Allegro ma non troppo in a minor key, all parts playing the same theme, which features a trill and a dotted rhythm. The theme changes to major and is played in fast triplets, with agile violin and cello runs. Low, dark chords provide an occasional moment of punctuation. The trill theme is extensively developed, and finally played slow, sweet, and high. At the point where we expect the cadence, the music stops dead, and Haydn inserts another playful recap of the trill theme. In case we failed to catch it, he plays it twice before the final cadence. Haydn is known for his musical wit, and this quartet makes the point that serious music can also have elements of fun.

Aaron Jay Kernis served as the composer-in-residence to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for several years, and more recently became composer-in-residence at Mannes College. He takes inspiration from the music of earlier eras, from salsa and other popular music forms, from literary works, and from political events—his Second Symphony was a protest against American actions in the Persian Gulf War. As one of the youngest composers ever to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize, he is among the most celebrated musical figures writing today.

The composer writes: “This third string quartet is a significant departure from my earlier two quartets, which looked to the distant past for form and inspiration. Instead, this new work dispenses with classical structure and influences almost completely, touching continually on processes of change and flux. I went back to a novel of the early twentieth century, beloved of my mother and seemingly influential to me: Jean-Christophe by French author Romain Rolland. [Editor’s note: This is a ten-volume fictionalized account of the life of Beethoven, who is cast as a German composer of Belgian extraction. In his long life, Jean-Christophe undergoes arduous tribulation, spiritual struggle, and eventual triumph.] Central as a returning metaphor in the book is the Rhine River; no matter the change that occurs in the life of Jean-Christophe and the history of the countries the Rhine touches, the river continues its inexorable flow.

“This new quartet looks at the change, flow, and flux of musical materials. The five movements create a roughly symmetrical form, with the longest, nine-minute movement in the middle. The outer movements are the most related to one another, each opening with a cello solo, but they otherwise have highly contrasting characters: the first dramatic and the last more tranquil. The inner movements are also highly contrasting, yet more single-minded in speed (the second movement) and lyricism (the fourth movement). The middle (third movement) is the most wildly varied and tough-minded, influenced by mirror-like flecks of light reflecting on water, and drastic and subtle changes of speed and character.

“String Quartet No. 3, ‘River,’ is dedicated in loving memory of singer and artistic director Julian Rodescu, who laid the cornerstone for this collaboration with the Jasper String Quartet. It was written for and is dedicated to the members of the quartet.”

Johannes Brahms was connected with several women during his lifetime, but never married. Many have speculated (based in part on his own writings) that the great love of his life was Clara Schumann, but that because of his friendship with her husband Robert, he could not pursue that relationship, even after Robert’s death. The String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 5, No. 2, opens (Allegro non troppo) with an expansive four-note melody that leaps up and down and encompasses a full octave. It includes the notes F–A–E, which were the motto theme of Brahms’s friend the violinist Joseph Joachim. The notes stand for Frei, aber einsam (“Free, but alone”). The movement ends with that theme in imitative counterpoint, each instrument playing some version of it but entering at different times so that they overlap.

The slow second movement (Andante moderato) is one of Brahms’s signature lyrical melodies. The calm is interrupted twice, however, by fierce tremolos (fast bowing on the same note) in the inner parts and by an intensely dramatic, almost opera-like declamation in the first violin and cello. The dreamy reverie returns, and the movement ends serenely.

The third movement (Quasi minuetto, moderato) starts delicately, in the high ranges of the violins. The mood is abruptly changed by a faster, fugue-like passage. It is worthwhile to remember that Brahms was an admirer and a champion of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

The violin opens the Finale (Allegro non assai) with a dramatic statement, echoed by the cello. Once again, canons and other Baroque techniques abound, sometimes in the intense rhythms of a Slavonic dance, other times as a gentle waltz.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg.
It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy, publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at

Program Notes © 2017 by Miriam Villchur Berg

Eldar Djangirov Trio


Eldar Djangirov Trio

“Eldar’s command of his instrument is beyond staggering.”  —Downbeat Magazine

The Eldar Djangirov Trio

Eldar Djangirov, piano
Raviv Markowitz, bass
Eric Doob, drums

SATURDAY, JULY 30, 2017, 8 pm


The program will be announced from the stage.
There will be an intermission.

About the Artists

The New York Times described the New York based pianist and Grammy-nominated artist Eldar Djangirov as “a blend of musical intelligence, organizational savvy, enthusiasm and prowess that was all the more impressive for seeming so casual… an ebullient impressionist.” Dr. Billy Taylor said, “Eldar Djangirov’s playing shows brilliancy, complexity, and discipline…. He’s serious about his music, he’s thoughtful about what he does.” Jazz Times said, “Maybe he made a pact with Lucifer to be the greatest pianist ever.” Praised as “a genius beyond most young people I’ve heard” by Dave Brubeck. Downbeat magazine stated that “his command of his instrument is beyond staggering.”

When Eldar Djangirov (pronounced john-’gear-ov) was signed to Sony Masterworks at the age of seventeen, the young pianist from Kansas City was already well known for his prodigious pyrotechnics and precocious knowledge of the bebop tradition. Along the way, he has had the good fortune to meet and work with the masters, including Dr. Billy Taylor, Michael Brecker, Marian McPartland, Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Chris Potter, Nicholas Payton, Harvey Mason, Chris Botti, Joe Locke, Ron Carter, Pat Martino, Roy Hargrove, and many others. Through these opportunities and other wonderful musical experiences, Eldar continues to explore new frontiers through composing and performing, enabling him ultimately to realize his own musical vision.

Eldar came to the US from the former Soviet Union in 1997, when he was ten. Among his first performances were in his hometown of Kansas City, as well as The Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. He quickly moved up the ranks and was featured on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz show on NPR at the age of twelve. He released two albums independently. Eldar attended University of Southern California on a full scholarship. Eldar signed with Sony and recorded his major label self-titled debut featuring the great bassist, John Patitucci, and Michael Brecker on tenor sax. He followed up with the critically acclaimed Live at the Blue Note with guest appearances by Roy Hargrove and Chris Botti in 2006. Eldar was nominated for a Grammy in 2008 for his album Re-imagination.

Eldar has appeared at numerous major jazz festivals including the Tokyo Jazz Festival, Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, Java Jazz Festival,
Vienna Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, and San Francisco Jazz Festival, and has toured extensively throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. He has performed at venues ranging from the Hollywood Bowl to Carnegie Hall, and has played at the most notable jazz venues across the world. Eldar has been seen on national TV including the 2000 and 2008 Grammy Awards, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, CBS Saturday Early Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. In addition, he has also played with world renowned symphony orchestras such as NHK Symphony Orchestra, the Russian National Orchestra, and the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. He has four critically acclaimed trio albums including the most recent Virtue featuring Armando Gola (bass) and Ludwig Afonso (drums) as well as guest appearances by Joshua Redman and Nicholas Payton. “With the release of Virtue, Eldar may have sealed his role in future jazz history” (Bill Meredith, Jazziz). Eldar’s fifth album is his first solo piano album entitled Three Stories which garnered rave reviews. “This is certainly jazz piano, but it’s the kind that belongs in a recital hall…. Djangirov gets to the heart of every song” (Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz); “Something special goes on here…. In Djangirov’s hands, the piano is a dramatic personage” (Karl Stark, Philadelphia Inquirer); “Djangirov’s playing is simply flawless” (Jeff Tamarkin, All Music Guide). Eldar released two projects simultaneously in 2013; his trio album Breakthrough displays Eldar’s singular sonic imprint on an infectious array of standards and originals, with guest appearances by jazz greats Joe Locke and Chris Potter. His other release in 2013 was Bach/Brahms/Prokofiev, a classical solo piano album that showcases his unique interpretations. In 2015, Eldar released a new live album World Tour Vol. 1. The record covers a wide range of performances with live trio and solo tracks recorded in Tokyo, Philadelphia, Windham, Montreal, Atlanta, Washington DC, Tongyeong, San Diego, and Oakland. Eldar currently resides in New York City.

Raviv Markovitz, twenty-five, is an acoustic and electric bassist who has quickly become one of the most sought-after bassists on the New York jazz scene. Raviv won third place in the 2011 International Society of Bassists Jazz Bass Competition, and was one of fifteen semifinalists worldwide for the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Bass Competition. He was also tapped for the 2010 YoungArts Jazz Combo, and was a member of the 2009 Grammy Band, performing at Grammy-related events in Los Angeles. In the summer of 2014, Raviv was on faculty at the Calhoun Summer Jazz Workshop in New York and the Stanford Jazz Workshop through its Mentor Fellowship Program. Raviv has toured and performed across the US and internationally across Europe, Central America, and Asia. He has performed with some of jazz’s leading artists including Joe Lovano, Marcus Roberts, Cassandra Wilson, and Jimmy Heath, among many others. He studied with Charlie Banacos, John Clayton, Matt Penman, Bruce Gertz, Mark Helias, and Ben Waltzer. Raviv holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University. Bruce Gerts of Metronome Magazine said of him: “He’s ridiculous…. He’s like a young Scott LaFaro. He plays piano well too. He’s a natural!”

Two-time Grammy Award Nominee Eric Doob has established himself as one of New York City’s most exciting and dynamic new drummers, playing and collaborating with some of the leading artists in the world today. Eric’s captivating approach to the drums has been highlighted on tours and recordings with saxophone luminary Paquito D’Rivera since 2008, and he has accompanied the musical legend on a wide variety of projects and artistic collaborations. Eric has performed on multiple international tours with MacArthur Fellow saxophonist Miguel Zenon and his quartet. Eric has also played with Christian Scott, The New York Voices, Dave Samuels and the Caribbean Jazz Project, Edmar Castaneda, and Dr. Lonnie Smith. He has appeared as a guest artist with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and made multiple appearances with the NDR Big Band of Hamburg, Germany. Eric’s drumming plays an integral part in the groups of some of New York City’s most promising new artists, including The Matthew Stevens Group, Ryan Keberle + Catharsis, Alex Brown, and Chet Doxas. In 2013, Eric received a Grammy nomination for his work on Manuel Valera’s New Cuban Express. In 2015 he was again recognized with a nomination for his contribution to Emilio Solla’s Second Half. Eric has performed and taught extensively throughout North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, playing at some of the most prestigious venues and festivals in the world. He is a Sabian Cymbals and Vic Firth Drumstick artist and currently resides in Brooklyn.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg.
It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy, publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at
Program Notes © 2017 by Miriam Villchur Berg


photo by Nikolaj Lund


Trio Con Brio Copenhagen

Mozart: Piano Trio in E Major, K. 542
Smetana: Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 15
Shostakovich: Piano Trio No. 2, in E minor, Op. 67

Trio Con Brio Copenhagen

Soo-Jin Hong, violin
Soo-Kyung Hong, cello
Jens Elvekjaer, piano

SUNDAY, JULY 30, 2017, 4 pm


Piano Trio No. 4 in E Major, K. 542 (1788) |   Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)
Andante grazioso
Finale: Allegro

Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 15 (1855)  |  Bedřich Smetana (1824–1884)
Moderato assai
Allegro, ma non agitato—Alternativo I: Andante—Alternativo II: Maestoso
Finale: Presto


Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 67 (1944)  |  Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975)
Allegro con brio

About the Artists

Trio con Brio Copenhagen has throughout their career been hailed by press and audiences for their “unique sound and unity of interpretation” —Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany.

Founded in Vienna in 1999 with the concept of pairs coming together, the two Korean sisters and Jens (who is married to Soo-Kyung) have since then been exploring the piano trio repertoire with freshness and curiosity, respect and reflection. In particular, they have been gaining a reputation for the vigor of their approach to the core repertoire: “Works by Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms are transformed in their hands into the alive-and-kicking music of today” —Esben Tange, editor at DR P2.

Trio con Brio Copenhagen is in great international demand and has an intensive worldwide touring schedule. Performances this season include Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, as well as concerts in Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. In recent years, Trio con Brio Copenhagen has appeared in major concert halls in Europe, the US, and Asia, including Tivoli Concert Hall, the Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Konzerthaus Berlin, the Seoul Arts Center, Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, and Teatro Olimpico Vicenza.

Since its inception the trio has won most of the international competitions for piano trio, including the ARD (Munich), Vittorio Gui (Florence) and Norway’s Trondheim Competition. In January 2015 the trio was the first ensemble to receive one of Denmark’s most prestigious music awards, the P2 Artists Prize, at a live televised concert where they performed Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Other major awards include the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson International Trio Award and the Allianz Prize in Germany’s Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Trio con Brio Copenhagen continues to play a central role in Scandinavia’s vibrant contemporary music scene. Several of Denmark’s most prominent composers, including Per Nørgård and Bent Sørensen, have composed and dedicated works to the trio, as has Sweden’s Sven David Sandström. The trio was enormously honored to be chosen by Per Nørgård to be the dedicatee of a work that was premiered at a festival in Stockholm celebrating his eightieth birthday in 2012. The trio members are founders and artistic directors of the Copenhagen Chamber Music Festival.

The trio’s debut CD was unanimously praised by critics. American Record Guide wrote: “One of the greatest performances of chamber music I’ve ever encountered.” Gramophone Magazine wrote: “The performances can compete with the best available… a superb, greatly gifted chamber group.” Their CD of works by Mendelssohn was chosen by Classic FM, UK as Chamber Disc of 2011.

As educators, the trio gives master classes on their international tours, including offerings at Yale University and Rice University in Houston.

The trio’s sound benefits from the superb instruments all three play: Soo-Jin plays a violin built in the seventeenth century by Andrea Guarneri, and Soo-Kyung plays a Grancino cello. The ensemble has been coached by the Alban Berg Quartet, Frans Helmerson, Mihaela Martin, and Harald Schoneweg at the Cologne University of Music and received excellent musical guidance by Ferenc Rados in Budapest.

About the Music

The key of E major is an unusual one for instrumental chamber music, but one which Mozart apparently felt expressed his outlook for the Piano Trio No. 4 in E Major, K. 542. In the opening Allegro, the piano offers the first theme, a pleasant, lilting tune in 6/8 time. The violin and piano are featured alternately, with the cello providing a simple bass line. The violin presents the second theme, and the cello finally gets to offer its opinion, if only briefly.

The Andante grazioso moves to the key of A major. Once again, the piano presents a song-like theme. The violin takes it up, moving it into the minor, with piano embellishments. This is a monothematic movement: Mozart here is not striving for sharp contrasts or complex structures, but for grace and beauty.

For the Finale (Allegro), the music moves back to the home key. The second theme comes in shortly after the first, and the parts are happily interwoven. At last the cello gets its moment in the spotlight, playing a duet with the piano and in general participating on a more equal basis. The part writing is more complex, and the development is more intricate than in either of the other two movements.

In 1788, Mozart was in desperate need of money, writing to his friends for loans. In a letter to Michael Puchberg, he added the postscript: “When are we to have a little musical party at your house again? I have composed a new trio!” He was referring to this trio, and hoped to raise some funds by playing it.

Bedřich Smetana was the first Czech nationalist composer, a generation before Antonín Dvořák. His music is programmatic—it refers to non-musical ideas, stories, and associations—and passionate, in keeping with the Slavic style. Smetana was deeply affected by the death of his daughter from scarlet fever, and dedicated his Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 15, to her. The work is inscribed: “In memory of our eldest child, Bedřiška [Frederica], whose rare musical talent gave us such delight; too early snatched from us by death at the age of four and a half years.”

Every movement is filled with pathos. The opening Moderato assai is a cry of anguish uttered first by the violin and then the cello, with low chords in the piano. A second theme—a sweet cello melody with a gentle piano accompaniment—portrays the innocence of childhood. Smetana said this was one of his daughter’s favorite melodies. A third theme in the major drives forward like a sturdy march. These three themes interweave: tragic, playful, and steady. The movement ends with the opening anguished theme, but played in the marching meter.

The second movement (Allegro ma non agitato) is a scherzo, although it is in 2/4 time rather than the usual 3/4. A dotted-rhythm theme gallops along, until the first Alternativo (what is usually called a Trio section) comes in with a nostalgic tune. The cello provides a steady downbeat against the mellifluous violin and piano, and then joins in with the song in dialogue with each of the other instruments. For the second Alternativo, marked Maestoso (Majestic), thick chords alternate between fortissimo defiance and pianissimo reverie, after which a brief reminder of the gallop returns.

The Finale (Presto) alternates between thick angry chords and tranquillo conversations among the three solo instruments. The music travels back and forth from minor to major, from dark to light, and from mournful to triumphant, until the inevitable, inexorable funeral march. The ending builds the excitement to a final coda ending in an emphatic G major chord—the statement that life goes on.

Shostakovich dedicated his Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op 67 to the memory of his dear friend Ivan Ivanovich Sollertinsky, who died at the age of forty-one. Sollertinsky spoke two dozen languages. He kept his personal journal in ancient Portuguese to keep it private. He was a renowned music critic, a professor at the Leningrad Conservatory, and the artistic director of the Leningrad Philharmonic. Sollertinsky introduced Shostakovich to the music of Gustav Mahler and other Jewish composers active in Europe. Shostakovich wrote to Sollertinsky asking him to help when the governmental censors complained that Shostakovich’s music was unplayable. Sollertinsky wrote a rave review of Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of Vitebsk, but after Stalin saw the opera, both the composer and the critic were reviled and quickly fell from official favor.

When his friend died of a heart attack, Shostakovich wrote to Sollertinsky’s widow, “I cannot express in words all the grief I felt when I received the news of the death of Ivan Ivanovich. He was my closest and dearest friend. I owe all my education to him. It will be unbelievably hard for me to live without him.”

This was also the period of time when the realities of the Holocaust and the concentration camps were finally making their way into the consciousness of Russians and other international communities. Shostakovich writes a memorial for his friend that becomes an elegy to all victims of war and oppression.

Shostakovich starts with a slow section (Andante), as is common in elegies. Violin and cello trade roles, with the cello playing an eerie, high theme in harmonics. The violin enters as the alto in fugal harmony, and finally the piano provides a dark, low bass. As the tempo moves to Moderato, the piano takes the theme as the strings play pizzicato. Simple folk tunes, including a cheerful ditty reminiscent of “Old MacDonald,” appear, somewhat incongruously, as the music builds in speed and intensity.

The second movement (Allegro con brio) is a scherzo, as well as a portrait of the dedicatee. Sollertinsky’s sister described the frenzied and breathless movement thus: “That is his temper, his polemics, his manner of speech, his habit of returning to one and the same thought, developing it.” The central Trio is lighthearted and celebratory, featuring the piano.

In the Largo, piano chords imitate the tolling of bells. The violin plays a mournful melody, and then accompanies the cello as it takes up the tune. This movement is a passacaglia, an old form of theme and variations, with the strings interweaving variations above the piano’s ostinato progression (a repeated pattern of chords).

Themes from previous movements—including the canons and the “E-I-E-I-O” ditty—reappear in the finale (Allegretto) like thoughts and memories of the departed. Klezmer melodies make this movement unique, poignant, and eerie, with something of the feel of a danse macabre. The composer wrote: “It seems I comprehend what distinguishes Jewish music. A cheerful melody is built on sad intonations…. Why does he sing a cheerful song? Because he is sad at heart.”

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg.
It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy, publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at
Program Notes © 2017 by Miriam Villchur Berg

Steve Gorn

photo by Angela P. Schapiro


Steve Gorn, bansuri flute
Sanjoy Banerjee, vocals
Samir Chatterjee, tabla

India Ragas

Indian Ragas

Steve Gorn, bansuri flute
Sanjoy Banerjee, vocals
Samir Chatterjee, tabla

SUNDAY, JULY 30, 2017, 4 pm


The program will be announced from the stage.

There will be an intermission.

About the Artists

Grammy winner and five-time Grammy nominee Steve Gorn is creating a new idiom, a music that combines the essence of classical Indian tradition with a contemporary world music sensibility. The strength of this music arises from a virtuoso mastery, generating a vibrant fusion, alive and accessible to western ears. From Indian classical music to world music and jazz projects with Paul Simon, Jack DeJohnette, Paul Winter, and others, Steve infuses great mastery with a haunting, lyrical sweetness to bring the healing breath of the sacred to our demanding contemporary lives.

Steve’s first steps on this path were taken as a young jazz musician studying composition at Penn State. He noticed how John Coltrane and Charles Lloyd had begun to incorporate aspects of Indian music into their playing. He investigated modal music and listened to Bismallah Khan, who played the shenai (Indian oboe), and to Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan, who were then only beginning to become known to Western audiences. Drawn by these sounds, he followed the music east and found himself in Benares, India, in 1969, in a boat on the Ganges with the famous sarangi master Gopal Misra, listening to his classical raga float out over the water in the evening light. “I suddenly saw how this music went beyond notes, beyond what we think of as music. How it is, in truth, a yoga, a form of meditation, devotion, a form of love.”

In Benares, Steve studied shenai with a local teacher and then traveled to Calcutta, where he was invited to meet the Bengali bansuri master Sri Gour Goswami. “We went to Hedwa in North Calcutta, passing through narrow lanes lined with sweet shops, tea stands, and sari merchants. Bells were ringing from small neighborhood temples, and the air was thick and pungent with everything from sandalwood incense to cow dung. We were directed to a doorway that led along a corridor into a small courtyard. A servant motioned to a room on the south end of the courtyard and we entered the stone compound.

“Seated on the floor, in a circle, were six men all dressed in white. In the center of the circle was a robust middle-aged man, his feet tucked under his dhoti, his lips red from the betel-nut he was chewing. A cup of tea was at his side and a harmonium and a flute case lay on the floor before him. This was the teacher I had heard so much about. I was introduced in Bengali (although I learned later that these men spoke fluent English) and they proceeded to talk about me at length in a language I couldn’t understand. I stood there, grinning awkwardly, being discussed as if I were a specimen from Mars. Finally, the master looked at my flute case and said, ‘So, let me see your flute.’ I took it out and gave it to him. He looked at it, shrugging his shoulders, ‘It’s not very good,’ he said, ‘it’s not made right.’ I started to say something but he continued, ‘Who did you learn from?’ When I told him he let me know that I had learned from an insignificant person.

“I was becoming annoyed at being so readily dismissed. I wanted to play for him and show him what I knew, but they continued to sip their tea, conversing endlessly in Bengali. Finally, they asked me to play a raga for them. I was very nervous by then but managed to play. When I finished, Gour Goswami said, ‘You have a good sense for this music, but you have not been taught properly.’ He then took out his flute and played for me. The tone was deep, warm and velvety, utterly weightless. The raga unfolded and time stopped. It was breathtaking, as the passages came faster and faster, ending in a flourish of cascading sound that reverberated through the stone room. And then it was over and everyone was once again drinking tea. I just sat there, stunned. I looked at him and stuttered, ‘May I come back?’ He smiled and said, ‘Yes.’”

Returning to the US, Steve continued his study of Indian music with Pandit Raghunath Seth. He started bringing his elegant bansuri sound to American pop music, influencing a wide range of musicians. He recorded with Paul Simon, Richie Havens, Paul Winter, Jack DeJohnette, Glen Velez, and many others. Deepak Chopra, Krishna Das, Coleman Barks, Jai Uttal, Jerome Robbins, and Julie Taymor are among those who have sought out his virtuoso bamboo flute. He has composed for film, television, dance, and theatre, and performed in concerts and festivals throughout the world, drawing from classical Indian sources, jazz, and world music to create a distinctive signature sound.

His landmark world music recording Asian Journal and the unique Wings and Shadows have become cult favorites, and his acclaimed CD Luminous Ragas was named one of the top ten recordings of the year by Los Angeles Reader.

In 1996, Steve returned to India to perform at a seminar titled Indian Music and the West, at the Sangeet Research Academy in Mumbai. SRA West Chairman Arvind Parikh said, “Steve Gorn’s concert was widely appreciated for its outstanding musicianship…and has won him a host of admirers.” In 1998, Steve again returned to India, and performed to enthusiastic audiences at The Nehru Center, NCPA, and the Dadar Matunga Music Circle in Mumbai.

Indian classical music is a supreme art form, highly acclaimed for its esthetic quality, intricate technique, and sublimity. As an accomplished successor to this musical heritage, Sanjoy Banerjee has stepped masterfully into this field and with his sonorous voice has enthralled audiences at home and abroad.

Born in a musical family, Sanjoy started showing signs of exceptional talent from a very tender age. He was initiated into music by his aunt, Smt. Basanti Chatterjee, and Smt. Manjulika Dasgupta. He studied with Sri Ramanuj Dasgupta, and for advanced training went to Pandit Narayan Rao Joshi, of the Kirana Gharana lineage and style. Sanjoy was a favorite disciple until his guru’s death.

In 1989, Sanjoy began studies with Pandit A. Kanan, a stalwart of the Kirana Gharana, to learn the intricacies of Indian classical music. In 1995, he joined the prestigious ITC Sangeet Research Academy to study in the Guru Shishya Parampara method. He began with Pandit Kanan, and later studied as a scholar with Sangeet Vidushi Malabika Kanan, who saw the young musician’s potential and acknowledged Sanjoy as the “worthy successor” of her musical heritage.

Today, Sanjoy is a busy artist, performing in India, Bangladesh, the UK, Germany, Canada, and the US as one of the leading young musicians of Kirana Gharana. Sanjoy is also a regular artist of All India Radio and Doordarshan (TV).

Sanjoy is also a successful teacher, with students in India, Bangladesh, Germany, the UK, and the US. He is much sought after as a composer and music director. His Indian Festival Group worked in several projects in India and the UK. Sanjoy was a senior guru at the American Academy of Indian Classical Music in New York. At present he is a guru at his own institution, Kolkata Surumurchhana in Kolkata and guru at Chhandayan center for Indian Music in New York City.

Samir Chatterjee is a virtuoso tabla player from India. He travels widely across the world throughout the year, performing in numerous festivals as a soloist or with other outstanding musicians from both Indian and non-Indian musical traditions. Samir performed several times at the UN General Assembly and at the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo. His compositions are widely acclaimed, as are his writings. Samir is a firm believer in the transforming effect of music on society, and all aspects of his work reflect this conviction.

Chatterjee began his studies early with Pandit Bankim Ghosh, Pt. Balaram Mukherjee, Pt. Rathin Dhar, and Mohammad Salim. His later formation as a musician occurred under the guidance of Pt. Amalesh Chatterjee (since 1966) and Pt. Shyamal Bose (since 1984). All of Samir’s teachers have been from the Farrukhabad Gharana (school) of tabla playing, which he now represents.

Samir can be heard on numerous recordings as featured soloist, accompanying many of India’s greatest musicians, and in collaboration with western musicians of outstanding caliber. In concert, Samir has accompanied many of India’s greatest musicians, including Ravi Shankar and many others.

Chatterjee lives in the Greater New York area, and has been a catalyst in the fusion of Indian and non-Indian music, in his own creations and those of others. He has performed with Pauline Oliveros, Branford Marsalis, Ravi Coltrane, Dance Theater of Harlem, the Boston Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra, Ethos percussion group, Da Capo Chamber Orchestra, Boston Musica Viva, and other jazz, classical, and avant-garde musicians and ensembles.

Chatterjee is a member of the jazz trio SYNC with Ned Rothenberg and Jerome Harris, and the quintet Inner Diaspora, which includes Mark Feldman and Eric Friedlander. He collaborates with Pakistani Sufi-rock singer Salman Ahmad of the group Junoon, and he is the composer and director of Indo-Flame, an Indian and Flamenco fusion dance and music ensemble. Chatterjee performs with Sanjay Mishra on his CD Blue Incantation, which also features the late Jerry Garcia. He has recorded with Peter Gabriel, Joshua Bell, Melissa Etheridge, and Keller Williams, and has shared the stage with Sting, Elton John, James Taylor, Alicia Keys, Earth Wind and Fire, Annie Lennox, and many others.

Samir Chatterjee has been teaching for the last thirty-five years. He is the Founder/Director of Chhandayan, an organization dedicated to promoting and preserving Indian music and culture. He has authored the comprehensive volume A Study of Tabla and a guide book to Indian music, Music of India. He is on the faculty at Yale University, the Manhattan School of Music, the University of Pittsburgh, the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and the University of Bridgeport.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg.
It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy, publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at
Program Notes © 2017 by Miriam Villchur Berg

Harlem Quartet


Harlem Quartet

New Foundations IX
Turina: La Oracion del Torero (The Bullfighter’s Prayer)
Gabriela Lena Frank: Milagros, for string quartet (2010)
Guido López Gavilán: Cuarteto en Guaguancó
Borodin: Quartet No. 2 in D Major

The New Foundations project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.




“The high priests of percussion” —The New York Times

This concert is made possible with support from Garry & Diane Kvistad and the Woodstock Chimes Fund.


Bob Becker
Bill Cahn
Russell Hartenberger
Garry Kvistad
Stacey Bowers, guest performer

SATURDAY, AUGUST 12, 2017, 6 pm


Music for Pieces of Wood    Steve Reich (b. 1936)

Maverick Madness: A Group Improvisation   NEXUS

Tongues    Traditional Zimbabwean,    Arranged by NEXUS


Ragtime Xylophone Music Selections | George Hamilton Green, Jr. (1893-1970)

This concert is made possible with support from Garry & Diane Kvistad and the Woodstock Chimes Fund.

About the Artists

After close to four decades of continuous collaboration, the four master percussionists of NEXUS are internationally revered, not just for their virtuosity both as individual and group performers and their innovation and creativity, but for their ability to create extraordinary music out of just about anything: Swiss cowbells, Chinese drums, Tibetan prayer bowls, Middle Eastern hand drums, and Southeast Asian water buffalo bells, to name just a few. They create a staggering array of sounds and tones out of the broadest array of percussion instruments imaginable. With a repertoire ranging from military music to the novelty ragtime of the 1920s, from the haunting rhythms of Africa to the groundbreaking compositions of John Cage and Steve Reich, NEXUS delivers a stunningly virtuosic spectacle of sound, rhythm, and movement.

The first, entirely improvised NEXUS concert in 1971 marked the formation of a group that would touch and entertain people of all levels of musical learning, in all genres of percussion music. Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Russell Hartenberger, and Garry Kvistad are all solo virtuosos, as is Stacey Bowers; they all bring elements of their knowledge and character to a distinct and powerful whole. NEXUS stands out in the contemporary music scene for the innovation and diversity of its programs, its impressive history of collaborations and commissions, its revival of 1920s novelty ragtime xylophone music, and the influential improvisatory ideas of its members.

NEXUS’s widespread appeal has taken the group on tours of Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Brazil, Scandinavia, Europe, the US, and Canada. NEXUS is proud to have been the first Western percussion group to perform in the People’s Republic of China. The members of NEXUS have also enjoyed participating at numerous international music festivals, including Tanglewood, Ravinia, and Blossom, as well as the BBC Proms in London, Music Today, and many World Drum Festivals. NEXUS is the recipient of the Banff Centre for the Arts National Award and the Toronto Arts Award. The group was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1999, just before celebrating their thirtieth anniversary season.

Especially renowned for their improvisational skills, NEXUS was called upon to create the musical score for the National Film Board of Canada’s Inside Time, which won the 2008 Yorkton (Saskatchewan) Film Festival’s Golden Sheaf award for best social/political documentary and the 2008 Robert Brooks award for Documentary Cinematography. NEXUS also created the chilling score for the Academy Award-winning feature-length documentary The Man Who Skied Down Everest. NEXUS’s list of high-profile collaborators includes Steve Reich, the Kronos Quartet, the Canadian Brass, and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman.

Bob Becker is generally considered to be one of the world’s premier virtuoso performers on the xylophone and marimba. He has been percussionist for the Marlboro Music Festival and timpanist with the Marlboro Festival Orchestra under Pablo Casals. For several years he toured as drummer and percussionist with the Paul Winter Consort. He has appeared as a tabla soloist in India and has accompanied many of the major artists of Hindustani music. Bob is also a founding member of the Flaming Dono West African Dance and Drum Ensemble in Toronto. As a regular member of the Grammy Award-winning ensemble Steve Reich and Musicians, he has appeared as soloist with the Israel Philharmonic, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, and the London Symphony. Bob’s compositions and arrangements are performed regularly by percussion groups worldwide.

Bill Cahn has been a member of NEXUS since 1971, and was the principal percussionist in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from 1968 to 1995. Bill has performed with Chet Atkins, John Cage, Aaron Copland, Chuck Mangione, Mitch Miller, Seiji Ozawa, Steve Reich, Doc Severensen, Leopold Stokowski, Igor Stravinsky, Edgard Varèse, and Paul Winter. In 1999, he was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society’s Hall of Fame. In 2006 Bill received a Grammy award as part of the Paul Winter Consort on the DVD titled 2004 Solstice Concert.

Russell Hartenberger holds a PhD in World Music from Wesleyan University, where he studied mridangam, tabla, Javanese gamelan, and west African drumming. He is professor of percussion, acting associate dean, and chair of the Performance Department at the University of Toronto. Russell has been a member of major symphony orchestras, and has performed with the Paul Winter Consort, Gil Evans, John Cage, John Adams, Glen Velez, Pablo Casals, Canadian Brass, Kronos String Quartet, Peter Serkin, and Yo-Yo Ma. Russell has been a member of Steve Reich and Musicians since 1971, and he performed on the Grammy Award-winning recording of Music for 18 Musicians. With the Reich Ensemble, Russell has toured throughout the world and performed with the New York Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Cologne Radio Orchestra, London Symphony, and Brooklyn Philharmonic.

Garry Kvistad has been a member of NEXUS since 2002. He has toured and recorded with Steve Reich and Musicians since 1980, and won a Grammy award for the 1998 recording of Music for 18 Musicians. Garry has been on the faculty of Northern Illinois University and the University of Cincinnati College–Conservatory of Music. Kvistad has served as the timpanist and percussionist with the Chicago Grant Park Symphony, was a summer Tanglewood Fellow, and was a percussionist with the Cabrillo Music Festival Orchestra, California. He now serves on the faculty of the Bard College Conservatory of Music. Garry is the founder and CEO of Woodstock Percussion, Inc., makers of Woodstock Chimes and musical instruments.

Percussionist Stacey Bowers and Garry Kvistad were members of the Blackearth Percussion Group, which performed from 1971 until 1979. Blackearth held residencies at the University of Illinois, Northern Illinois University, and the College–Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati. The group is credited with rediscovering John Cage’s Third Construction shortly after the manuscript was made public, and performing it throughout the US and Europe beginning in 1977. The group performed thirty-eight world premieres, gave one hundred fifty-seven concerts in the US, Canada, and Europe, made three recordings, commissioned many compositions, played several different concertos with orchestras, experimented with micro-tonal tuning systems, developed several multimedia productions, and was one of the first percussion groups to write and perform minimalist music. Blackearth reunited in 2016 to perform as invited guests at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis.

About the Music

Music for Pieces of Wood by Steve Reich relies on the composer’s process of “rhythmic construction,” or substitution of beats for rests in a rhythmic pattern. The piece requires performers each playing a tuned pair of large wooden dowels called claves. All parts are accompanied by a steady clave pulse. One player performs a short rhythmic pattern over and over. One by one the other players build up this same pattern one note at a time, but several beats out of phase with the original pattern. This process is carried out in three sections, with patterns of six, four, and three beats.

Of Maverick Madness: A Group Improvisation Bill Cahn writes: “NEXUS was originally motivated by a common desire to explore music-making through improvisation on our collection of world percussion instruments. Our fascination with the sounds of non-Western percussion instruments—mostly Asian metallophones, tuned metal bars which are struck to make sound—led to our sizable collection. Since there was no music composed yet for this specific group of instruments, with their specific pitches and pitch relationships, it seemed best for us to simply create our own music through improvisation. After all, we knew the possibilities of our instruments better than anyone else. Following the first concert at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, the plan was simple: ‘Let’s do this again sometime soon.’ Basically, that plan has held up for forty-six seasons.”

The featured voice in Tongues is the African mbira, an instrument whose name literally translates as “tongues,” which refers to its tongues of metal rather than flesh. The mbira is a type of plucked idiophone (any instrument that creates sound primarily by the instrument as a whole vibrating, without the use of strings or membranes). It is found throughout Africa and is sometimes called a “thumb piano” in the west. The mbira performing the leading part is a twenty-two-keyed Shona mbira, known as “mbira dzavadzimu” (mbira of the ancestral spirits). Accompanying instruments include a marimbula (bass mbira from the Caribbean Islands), cowbell, axatse (gourd rattle), and drum. The music is NEXUS’s own interpretation of a traditional Zimbabwean melody. In the Shona culture of Zimbabwe, the mbira is strongly associated with memories of departed ancestors and with the experience of remembering in general.

Ragtime Xylophone Music Selections: From the turn of the century through the Roaring Twenties, there was a tremendous enthusiasm for dance all over North America. One instrument in particular—the xylophone—found its way into the dance orchestras, probably because of its ability to clearly accentuate the syncopated rhythms of the newer dance music. One of the most popular of the dance bands was the Green Brothers Novelty Xylophone Band. This group consisted of string and wind instruments, as well as two or three xylophones played by George Hamilton Green, Jr., and Joseph Green, who were both virtuosos on the instrument. Their popularity was worldwide—George was hailed as the world’s greatest xylophonist when he was just eleven years old. He greatly expanded the instrument’s expressive potential through his many compositions and transcriptions, and was enormously influential in creating a repertoire of concert pieces for solo xylophone. George moved to Woodstock in the late 1940s and is buried in the Artists’ Cemetery. The rebirth of his music was led by members of NEXUS in the late 1970s.

The Green Brothers were very active in the budding record industry, and recorded hundreds of dance tunes—including “Dotty Dimples” and “Fluffy Ruffles One Step,” both composed by George—for virtually every major record label in existence before 1930. The music embodies the energy, joy, and direct sentiment of its time.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg.
It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy, publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at
Program Notes © 2017 by Miriam Villchur Berg

Amernet String Quartet


Amernet String Quartet
with Ran Dank, Piano

Hugo Wolf: Italian Serenade
Dvořák: Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-Flat Major, Op. 87
Juliusz Zarębski (1854-1885): Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op. 34 (1885)

Maverick Concerts premiere

Amernet String Quartet

Misha Vitenson, violin
Franz Felkl, violin
Michael Klotz, viola
Jason Calloway, cello

Ran Dank, piano

SUNDAY, AUGUST 20, 2017, 4 pm

The Fifth of Seven Programs this Season Honoring the Composers Aaron Jay Kernis,Johannes Brahms, and Antonín Dvořák


Italian Serenade (1887) | Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)

Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat Major, Op. 87 (1889) | Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)

Allegro con fuoco
Allegro moderato, grazioso
Finale. Allegro, ma non troppo


Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op. 34 (1885) | Juliusz Zarębski (1854-1885)
Finale: Presto

About the Artists

Praised for their “intelligence” and “immensely satisfying” playing by The New York Times, the Amernet String Quartet has garnered recognition as one of today’s exceptional string quartets. Ensemble-in-Residence at Florida International University since 2004, the group was formed in 1991, while its founding members were students at The Juilliard School. Amernet rose to international attention after their first season, winning the Gold Medal at the Tokyo International Music Competition in 1992. In 1995, the group was the First Prize winner at the Banff International String Quartet Competition.

Their busy performance schedule has taken the group across the US, as well as throughout Europe, Japan, Korea, Canada, and Mexico. They have collaborated with numerous artists and ensembles including the Tokyo, St. Lawrence, and Ying string quartets as well as Shmuel Ashkenasi, Ida Kavafian, Ruth Laredo, and James Tocco.

The Amernet has held residencies at Northern Kentucky University, the University of Cincinnati College–Conservatory of Music, and the Caramoor Center for the Arts. They have appeared at Ravinia, Lincoln Center, and the Mostly Mozart Festival, and at major festivals around the world, including the San Miguel de Allende and Morelia music festivals in Mexico and the Bowdoin festival in Maine. The Amernets founded the Norse Festival, a summer chamber music workshop for young musicians at Northern Kentucky University, and host an annual summer chamber music camp in Miami called Animato.

The Amernet has commissioned works from many of today’s leading composers, including Anthony Brandt, John Corigliano, and Toshi Ichiyanagi. The Amernet also actively advocates for neglected works of the past and aims to enliven the concert experience through its innovative programming.

Pianist Ran Dank deploys his brilliant technique with astonishing energy, intellect, and intensity, captivating audiences and critics alike. In recent seasons, he has performed at Merkin Hall and Alice Tully Hall, and has toured with his duo partner and wife, pianist Soyeon Kate Lee. The New York Times reviewer was “absorbed and exhilarated” by their performance of the world premiere of Fredric Rzewki’s Four Hands at New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge.

Mr. Dank has appeared as soloist with orchestras around the US and in Europe. In his native Israel, he has performed with the major symphony orchestras and at the Israel Conservatory of Music. Mr. Dank won first prize at the Hilton Head International Piano Competition, as well as prizes at the Naumburg and Sydney competitions.

Mr. Dank earned his bachelor’s degree from Tel Aviv University, and his master’s degree from The Juilliard School, where he worked with Emanuel Ax and Joseph Kalichstein. He is currently pursuing his doctorate with Ursula Oppens and Richard Goode at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

He has recently been appointed to the faculty of the University of Charleston as an assistant professor and director of piano studies, and serves as the artistic director of the University of Charleston’s International Piano Series.

About the Music

It is a common practice for music festivals such as the Maverick to schedule music from three different eras—often Classical, Romantic, and Modern or Contemporary—in each program. This is not the way music would have been heard in concerts in the nineteenth century. Before the phonograph, music was heard by the public either in a concert hall, at a salon, or in the home, played from sheet music purchased for that purpose. Most of the art music people heard was written by living composers. We are in many ways fortunate that we have classics that remain in the repertoire through time. But we have also lost the sense of what it must have been like when the composers of the day were the stars. So it is a rare treat to have this program at the Maverick, in which all three of the pieces were written in a single four-year period, between 1885 and 1889. This is how the concert-going public of the late nineteenth century might have experienced a performance.

Hugo Wolf is best known as a masterful and prolific composer of art songs. He stood with the avant-garde Wagnerites, calling the more classically oriented Brahms a reactionary. In a letter to a friend, Wolf wrote that the opera he envisioned writing would be filled with the strumming of guitars, sighs of love, moonlit nights, and banquets with champagne. When he wrote the Italian Serenade, Wolf was also at work setting the verse of the Prussian poet Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff. One of the major exponents of German Romanticism, Eichendorff had also wrtten a novella about a young musician who charms some and antagonizes others—just as Wolf himself had. The novella contains a performance of an “Italian Serenade.”

Although Wolf sketched other movements, the Molto vivo is the only one he completed. It starts with a carefree theme (perhaps representing the charming hero), accompanied by fast and light chords that imitate strummed guitars. This theme recurs, interspersed with different musical episodes, making this movement a loosely organized rondo. One of the episodes is a cello solo in recitative style, like the anguished declamation of a jilted lover. But the heaviness is belied by the delicate little figures in the other voices that punctuate the cello’s phrases. Wolf is, perhaps, parodying his own dramatic intensity. At the end, the anguished theme returns, followed immediately by the cheery theme, and we hear that they are in fact merely different treatments of the same musical thought.

In the late nineteenth century, the piano quartet reached a high level, with masterpieces by Schumann, Brahms, and Antonín Dvořák. The Piano Quartet in E-Flat, Op. 87, is the second of Dvořák’s two works in this genre. A forceful theme opens the Allegro, played in unison by the strings. The piano responds with a prancing dotted rhythm. These elements go through several transformations, together and separately. The conclusion puts the main theme in fast-bowing tremolos over a gentle piano, after which all the instruments crescendo to the end.

In the Lento, the cello sings the first tune. As he did in other works, Dvořák constructed this movement using multiple themes, this time with five different melodies. Although several of the themes share some musical fragments, each has a different emotional character, ranging from wistful to angry.

The third movement (Allegro moderato, grazioso) opens with a ländler, a country waltz with a folk flavor. An unusual interval (an augmented second) in the piano’s secondary theme gives it the exotic flavor of a Middle Eastern scale. The central section features the violin in a highly accented dotted rhythm, which is then taken up by the other instruments.

The Finale (Allegro ma non troppo) recalls the high energy of the first movement, as well as its contrasting darker sections. Just when it seems to be coming to a final cadence, Dvořák modulates the key downwards several times, and then back up the scale again. Although this work uses fewer folk elements than other works from his nationalistic period, it is nonetheless highly emotional and expressive.

Juliusz Zarębski (pronounced Yooliush Zarempski) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He received degrees at the conservatories in Vienna and St. Petersburg, after which he studied with Franz Liszt. Liszt supported Zarębski’s career by appearing with him in concert and helping to get his music published. The young pianist performed around Europe to great acclaim, and in 1880 was appointed professor of piano at the Brussels Conservatory. Zarębski mastered the newly invented two-keyboard piano, and played it at the Paris Exhibition of 1878. He died in 1885 of tuberculosis, at the age of thirty-one.

Although most of Zarębski’s works are for solo piano, his masterpiece is his Piano Quintet in G Minor. The work is notable for its driving movement, its prodigious melodic inventiveness, and its masterful interplay between piano and strings. In the opening Allegro, the first theme is introduced by the second violin and viola in duet. At times, the piano plays fast runs below slow, deliberate lines in the strings. At other times, the piano introduces new themes, or provides chords to accompany a cello solo. As the movement ends, a cascade of descending arpeggios leads to a powerful conclusion.

The slow movement (Adagio) moves to E-flat major. As the piano plays grand, rolling arpeggios, the first violin, low in its range, intones a gentle and mysterious song. There are numerous key changes, and although the tone is subdued (it is marked tranquillo), the motion never stops. The movement ends with two simple chords on the piano as the strings play pizzicato (plucked notes).

For the Scherzo, the strings gallop as the piano plays the tune. The parts switch roles, and then switch back again. Themes alternate in a headlong rush, and the forward movement continues even when the tone is gentle.

Zarębski uses cyclic structure in the Finale (Presto), quoting from each of the earlier movements. A repeat of the Scherzo theme opens the movement. The tempo accelerates to a near-climax, and then the Adagio from the slow movement, with the low violin, interrupts. Another quick change takes the music to Allegro molto in G major, with all the instruments in triplets (three notes to a beat). Grand gestures pervade throughout, especially in the long cadential section.

Despite his poor health, Zarębski was able to perform at the premiere of this piece. Liszt proclaimed that it was perfect. But the piece was not published, and languished in obscurity until 1931. Since then, it has become part of the quintet repertoire, and is considered a masterpiece of the late nineteenth century.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg.
It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy, publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at
Program Notes © 2017 by Miriam Villchur Berg