VOYAGERS, FOR CLARINET AND STRING QUARTET
The Cassatt Quartet has built a reputation for championing works of living composers, both by commissioning new works and by building entire programs around meaningful themes. The Quartet is planning a new program, Voyages, built on the idea of journeys of several different types: geographical, imaginative, and musical. In addition to works by Ellen Taaffe Zwillich and John Corigliano, the Cassatt is planning to add a new work to this program, and to the repertoire, by commissioning a quintet for clarinet and string quartet by New York composer Gerald Cohen. Cohen’s new work will be a collaboration with the Cassatt and the brilliant young Macedonian clarinetist Vasko Dukovski.
Composer Gerald Cohen writes about the new project:
“After thinking about different kinds of voyages, the idea of space travel particular attracted me. I recalled that the two Voyager spacecraft—launched in the late 1970s, explorers of the outer planets, and now near or beyond the edge of our solar system—were launched with recordings of selections of Earth’s music attached to them, along with photos and sounds of human life, on a “Golden Record,” with the hope that an extra-terrestrial civilization would find the record, be able to play it, and help them to understand our planet and civilization.
“The Voyager program has given us, as human beings, an incredible perspective on our own place in the galaxy and in space, with its photos of our Sun as a bright but distant star, and the famous photo of the earth as a ‘pale blue dot.’
“It is thrilling for me, as a musician, to know that those who created the Golden Record (led by Carl Sagan) felt deeply that music could be a powerful communication to beings on other worlds. My plan is to write a 20-minute piece that focuses on a few of the pieces that were part of the Golden Record, and to weave them together in a composition that celebrates humanity’s quest to reach beyond our earth to explore the universe, and the power of music to express the rich emotional and cultural world of human beings. The creators of the Golden Record chose a very idiosyncratic selection of pieces from around the world, and I have in turn chosen several of these pieces—a Renaissance dance, a Mariachi song, an Indian Raga and a late Beethoven quartet—as the main source material for my composition about music and exploration.”
Performances of the piece are confirmed for 2016 at the Seal Bay Festival in Vinalhaven, Maine; at the Planetarium of the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, NY; and at Shaarei Tikvah Synagogue in Scarsdale, NY. The performance at the Hudson River Museum will be combined with a simultaneous planetarium presentation, showing photos from the Voyager missions. We are particularly interested in presenting this work at other planetariums and science museums, as we feel that the combination of music and celebration of space exploration in the piece could be particularly appropriate and exciting for such venues.
Sebastian Currier’s “Quiet Time” was written in 2004 for the Cassatt String Quartet, and was recorded by them in 2005 on New World Records, along with the earlier composition “Quartetset,” which was also commissioned by the Cassatt through NEA. The recording included here was made at a recent live performance by the Cassatt, on Oct 11, 2013 at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, and thus shows the Cassatt’s commitment to continue to perform and promote the many excellent pieces that they have commissioned.
Gerald Cohen:”Playing for our lives,” composed for the Cassatt String Quartet, and premiered by them in 2012. The piece is a contemporary tribute to the musicians of the Terezin concentration camp from World War II, who, in spite of imprisonment, were allowed to have a musical life. Cohen’s composition reflects several of the pieces that were composed or performed there, and the 3rd movement especially uses Verdi’s Requiem, sung there as an act of surreptitious defiance. Please listen beginning at 6:15, the transition into the 3rd Movement.
Gerald Cohen composed “Variously Blue” for the Verdehr Trio in 2009. This performance, by Vasko Dukovski, Jennifer Choi, and Alexandra Joan, is from Cohen recent album, SEA OF REEDS. The piece is a set of variations on a lively, angular theme using the 12-bar blues progression, exploring a particular personal take on linking jazz and concert music. Please listen from the beginning of the track; for a contrasting section, listen beginning at 6:20 on the track.
Start and End Dates
03/01/2016 — 10/31/2016