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The Momenta Quartet: A Prolific 2014-15 Season

November 19, 2015

The Momenta Quartet enjoyed a fulfilling and prolific 2014-15 season, with 24 concerts and far too much repertoire  – made possible in part by the generous support of the Cary New Music Performance Fund.

We started our season with an Eric Nathan portrait concert at the Tenri Cultural Institute of New York City in September followed by two days of recording sessions of his complete chamber music for strings with Grammy Award-winning producer Judith Sherman for his debut CD, which was just released by Albany Records on September 1, 2015. It was a thrill to perform and record his viola quintet with Samuel Rhodes and his oboe quartet with Peggy Pearson, and to finally make the debut recording of the two string quartets he wrote for Momenta. The CD’s title track, Multitude Solitude, was a commission from the Jerome Fund. We included it on our Radical Romantics concert at the National Gallery in Washington, DC, which received a glowing review in the Washington Post.

Momenta was honored to be a part of portrait concerts of four more great American composers: Gordon Beeferman, Elizabeth Brown, Matthew Greenbaum and Stefan Wolpe.  Gordon and Elizabeth are major contributors to the Momenta Quartet’s unique personal repertoire. In fact, the entire program of Elizabeth’s concert at Montclair State University in New Jersey consisted of works she wrote for us.

Youtube, Momenta performing Elizabeth Brown: Just Visible in the Distance:

Matthew Greenbaum was instrumental in the founding of Momenta back in 2004 so we were thrilled to give the world premiere of the second quartet he wrote for us, More Venerable Canons, as part of his 65th Birthday Concert at Tenri, alongside members of the Cygnus Ensemble and new music superstar pianist David Holzman. We subsequently performed his new quartet at the Center for Jewish History and the Red Note Music Festival in Illinois.

Photo, composer Matthew Greenbaum: MatthewGreenbaum.jpg: see attached

Speaking of Red Note, we enjoyed working with a wide range of extremely talented emerging composers selected by the festival and performing some of the mainstays of our personal repertoire at our Midwest debut concert. Among the highlights of that concert was the searing and intense Wrong Ocean by New York based Israeli composer Guy Barash, which we also included on our Unreasonable Visions concert on the MATA Festival.

MATA was definitely a high point of Momenta’s season. The festival receives over 1000 submissions from composers from all corners of the world, all under the age of 40. They select music through a rigorous and highly competitive process and invite ensembles to perform the intriguing concert programs that result. We already knew Guy, but through MATA, we made new friends with remarkable composers we may have never met otherwise: Idin Samimi Mofakham (Iran), Daniel Moreira (Brazil), Michalis Paraskakis (Greece) and Alex Weiser (USA).

Photo, Momenta Quartet performs at the MATA Festival’s opening gala: MATAmomenta.jpg (see attached)

Shortly after MATA we returned for our annual residency at Cornell University, premiering a new quartet, Memory Palace, written for us by British composer Michael Small and an entire program of quartets by the Mexican microtonal maverick Julián Carrillo in collaboration with the musicologist Alejandro Madrid.

Soundcloud, Memory Palace by Michael Small:

Youtube, Momenta performs Julián Carrillo’s Meditación from String Quartet no. 3, Dos Bosquejos:

Before travelling to Mexico City to perform and speak at the Jornadas Universitarias Julián Carrillo at the Mexican National University (UNAM) in June, we gave our final New York City concert of the season at the Center for Jewish History. What better way to wrap up the season than with two momentous world premieres?

We were joined by three phenomenal guest artists: mezzo soprano Re’ut Ben-Ze’ev, pianist Molly Morkoski and clarinetist Christopher Grymes for the world premiere of All One Breath by David Glaser, and we also gave the world premiere of our first ever privately funded commission. Our dear friend Peter Pohly commissioned Georgian-Israeli composer Hana Ajiashvili to write her first string quartet, Four, for us.

Mvt. 4 from Four by Hana Ajiashvili:

Other breaking news this past season: we finished our debut album, Similar Motion, featuring works by Glass and Debussy and the world premiere recording of the cutting-edge A Knife All Blade by Brazilian avant-garde composer Arthur Kampela. The record will be released by Albany Records on October 1, 2015 and stay tuned for more information about our inaugural Momenta Festival and CD Release Extravaganza, with concerts at 8pm each night at Tenri on September 30, October 1, October 3 and October 4.

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