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Color Theory 2.0

New Music for Saxophones and Percussion by Susie Ibarra and Tyshawn Sorey

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Performance videos!

Posted on May 17, 2019 by PRISM Quartet, Inc.

We hope you have a chance to check out performance videos of Color Theory 2.0. First up: Susie Ibarra’s Procession, Along the Aciga Tree, followed by Tyshawn Sorey’s Nebulae, and Elizabeth Hoffman’s parcels of clarity.

PRISM, Tyshawn, and Susie also premiered ten miniatures written by participants of Unlocking Your Inner Composer, free composition workshops that we presented in collaboration with the Free Library of Philadelphia. Check out PRISM’s Youtube channel for videos of these performances.

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Composer videos

Posted on May 17, 2019 by PRISM Quartet, Inc.

Thanks to everyone who joined us in Philadelphia and NYC last June for our performances with Tyshawn Sorey and Susie Ibarra. Here are some behind-the-scenes videos of them discussing their commissioned works for PRISM, plus a bonus video of NYU’s Elizabeth Hoffman discussing her new piece, parcels of clarity, which was also premiered on the program.


Color Theory 2.0 is a residency, performance, and recording project that pairs the PRISM Quartet’s saxophonists with two singular voices in contemporary music: performer-composers Susie Ibarra and Tyshawn Sorey. PRISM will commission Ibarra and Sorey to each compose a new work for saxophone quartet and percussion, and to join PRISM as guest soloists on their pieces, which we’ll premiere in Philadelphia and NYC on June 2, 3, and 4, 2018.

The project includes Unlocking Your Inner Composer, a partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia in which Ibarra, Sorey, and PRISM will lead free composition workshops at two library branches. The six-week residency will culminate in two public concerts featuring workshop participants’ compositions alongside guest artists’ commissions. PRISM will also produce a studio recording of Ibarra and Sorey’s works for a September 2019 release on PRISM’s label, XAS Records (distributed by Naxos), and video record live performances for broadcast.

Color Theory 2.0 is the second installment of an ongoing project that asks composers to use the combination of saxophones and percussion to create works exploring musical color, or timbre. The project’s first phased joined PRISM with So Percussion and Partch (an ensemble playing Harry Partch instruments) to premiere new works by Steve Mackey, Stratis Minakakis, and Ken Ueno. Color Theory 2.0 seeks to expand and enrich our previous musical experiment by including composer-performers who are consummate improvisers. Ibarra and Sorey share PRISM’s dedication to crossing musical boundaries, and bring a compelling array of cultural and compositional practices to the project.

Susie Ibarra: “I am struck by [PRISM’s] ability to move as one instrument. Sometimes ethereal in their delicate chords, sometimes enigmatic with multiple musical conversations moving along in contradiction. I am drawn to their profoundly beautiful sound which makes me dream about its origins and connections to the environment. I think of Kalinga musicians in the forest of the Cordilleras, walking and playing interlocking bamboo to ward off evil spirits. Is it a magpie waterfowl along the Ganges? Maybe it’s a bear call from the Seneca Nations appearing in the evening, or a high pitched marmot whistling and running in the rocks of a Northwest American Glacier.  I will perform alongside the Quartet on percussion instruments that can gather both dynamic force and delicacy using an hourglass harp to play water pitches, to drumset, gongs, and an array of textural percussion.”

Tyshawn Sorey: “Working with the PRISM Quartet in a chamber setting will give me a chance to explore sonic landscapes that fall outside of the music I create with my regular collaborators. My work will explore the quiet intersection of saxophone overtones and harmonics produced by metal percussion instruments (e.g. cymbals, gongs). I imagine a large percussion setup, but no drum set. The work will incorporate ‘masked’ improvisation that will interact seamlessly with composed music. I’ll draw on my relationship with saxophone music from the African diaspora, particularly artists like Roscoe Mitchell and Anthony Braxton, by expanding syntactical aspects of their language into this new work.”

Start and End Dates



Philadelphia and NYC, Pennsylvania

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Last update on May 17, 2019

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NYC and Philly
Intriguing programs of great beauty and breadth have distinguished the PRISM Quartet as one of America’s foremost chamber ensembles. PRISM seeks to place the saxophone in unexpected contexts, chart fresh musical territory, and to challenge, inspire, and move audiences. “A bold ensemble that set the standard for contemporary-classical saxophone quartets” (The New York Times), PRISM was…

In Collaboration With

composer and guest artist
New York, New York


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