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Posts tagged 'The JACK Quartet'

Lei Liang Portrait Concert at Miller Theatre


(Lei Liang, photo: Howard Lipin)

On November 17th, Miller Theatre at Columbia University will present a Portrait Concert of composer Lei Liang. With performances by the JACK Quartet, loadbang, bassist Mark Dresser and with Steven Schick conducting, this concert will feature the New York premiere of Liang's concerto for double bass and ensemble Luminous (2014), as well as the World Premiere of Lakescape V, a new work commissioned by Miller Theatre and dedicated to loadbang. 

(Excerpt from Luminous, performed by Mark Dresser, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Steven Shick, conductor)

Liang's work is often influenced by traditional Chinese music—from Opera, to Mongolian throat singing, to instruments such as the guqin, an ancient zither—and brings these influences to bear on decidedly idiosyncratic, flexible concepts such as "one note polyphony", shadows, breathing, and transformation. As Paul Griffiths writes, "he breaths, so to say, from both of his lungs." The concert program features works from throughout Liang's career that illustrate and sonify these conceps, including Ascension, for brass quintet and percussion, and Serashi Fragments, for string quartet, along with Luminous and Lakescape V

                
(pages from Lei Liang's Luminous)

The Lakescape series encapsulates many of Liang's diverse interests. At a Mahayana Buddhist monastery in upstate New York, Liang observed a beaver swimming through a lake's placid surface; this led him to realize, in his words, that "underneath the music I write is a profoundly deep silence upon which I seek to inscribe my signature through sound."

In anticipation of the portrait concert, check out a video from the world premiere of Liang's recent string quartet Song Recollections, performed by the Formosa Quartet: 

Hannah Lash: Portrait Concert at Miller Theatre



The music of Hannah Lash is, as composer Martin Bresnick writes, infused with a "high seriousness"—a burning, disciplined seriousness, dedicated equally to the composition of new works and to the long musical tradition of the works' instruments, lineages, and intensities. An upcoming Portrait Concert at Columbia University's Miller Theatre features three works, two of which are world premieres. 

The program begins with the world premiere of Music for Eight Lungs, commissioned by the Miller Theatre and performed by loadbang. As the title would suggest, the performers in this ensemble—trumpet, trombone, bass clarinet, and baritone voice—are rendered as breathing bodies, each lung equal to the next regardless of instrument. (The voice, too, is an instrument here, woven in to the fabric of the piece.) The phonemic material of this composition is drawn from Purcell's aria, "When I am Laid in Earth" (known as "Dido's Lament," 1688).

Six Etudes and a Dream follows, written for and performed by pianist Lisa Moore. Each etude is dedicated to an aspect of Moore's piano playing, which Lash praises for its "musical laser focus." Check out a video of Lisa Moore, joined by cellist Ashley Bathgate, performing the first movement of Lash's Friction, Pressure, Impact:

The program will end with Lash, also an accomplished harpist, joining the JACK Quartet to perform Filigree in Textile, a work she composed for JACK and harpist Yolanda Kondonassis in 2011. This work shows Lash's capacity to work in several compositional paradigms, all of which have formed an integral part in the fabric of her compositional tradition—a metaphor implied by the piece's title and movement titles, each named after a material used in the weft of medieval tapestries. "Gold" features an organic, unfolding melodic "cell" which transforms throughout the movement; "Silver" is "a formal and somber dance in rhythmic unison"; "Silk" is through-composed, with the harp emerging as a figure against the ground of the ensemble. Check out an excerpt below.

Hannah Lash: Composer/Harpist

The composer at the writing desk: from Beethoven to this day, this is the enduring image of the scene of musical composition. But what about the composer at her instrument? Many of today's (and yesterday's) most vibrant composers also enjoy careers as instrumentalists: Timo Andres, Kate Soper, Alex Mincek, Ted Hearne, Vijay Iyer and many other PSNY composers inherit the composer-performer tradition by performing their own works and those of others. 

Hannah Lash is no exception to this rule. After premiering her own Concerto for Harp and Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in October, Lash has recently signed with Ariel Artists, joining the ranks of exciting musicians such as violinist Rachel Lee Priday, the Tesla Quartet, and the Mobius Trio. Check out Lash's own performance of her recent concerto (arranged for chamber ensemble) at Yale, where she is a full-time composition faculty member of the School of Music:  

Lash's upcoming performance schedule includes concerts at Yale, Spectrum, Miller Theatre and The Greene Space for the New York Philharmonic's Biennial. Be sure to catch her in 2016!

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