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Whole Sol Festival: Commissioning New Works

Commissioning new works by Gyan Riley, Erberk Eryılmaz, and Theresa Wong for the Del Sol Quartet's 25th anniversary festival

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After the Whole Sol….

Posted on August 27, 2018 by Del Sol String Quartet

We had an amazing festival in November and are still basking in the incredible success of the music, performances, guests, audience, and celebration!  From the projects samples, you can get a taste of what it was like to be there to hear the new pieces by Gyan, Theresa, and Erberk.  Del Sol loved deepening our friendships and musical collaborations with these three composers.  

Since the festival, we’ve been including these works and composers in our musical lives.

Theresa Wong has brought her incredible knowledge and love of music to our adult chamber music workshop as well as our kid quartet program.  Her curiosity is infectious as she shares about her music and her journey (we also got to do some of Mud Nest Signals in performance for the adults!)  She got the kids thinking outside the normal sound boxes through various improvisatory games.  We’re currenly working together to find the funding for a new project –  an evening-length work for string quartet and media in just intonation.  

We’re making touring plans for Gyan Riley’s “Vernal” – because who doesn’t love ukulele and want to play in a uke choir?  We’re looking forward to the next performances with Gyan who is an amazing chamber music partner.  

We’re performed Erberk Eryilmaz’s “Hoppa! 2” to standing ovations and have plans this next season to continue working with Erberk and hopefully record this work.  

We’re so grateful to New Music USA’s support of this project and we’re looking forward to the new seeds that have been planted from this work.  



The Del Sol Quartet seeks support for commissioning new works by Gyan Riley, Theresa WongErberk Eryılmaz  for the “Whole Sol Festival,” November 16-18, 2017 in San Francisco.  The festival, Del Sol’s 25th birthday party, celebrated California’s distinct musical legacy of unfettered invention, openness, cultural inclusion, and honored Del Sol’s commitment as a leading force in 21st century music, with 1 new album release, 6 world premieres, and 7 composers in attendance representing 6 different cultural backgrounds.  5 composers shared the stage as performers (including entire evenings devoted to composers/performers Terry Riley and Gabriela Lena Frank), in addition to an audience-participatory ukulele choir.

Three of these world premieres were: Gyan Riley’s Vernal, Erberk Eryılmaz’s Hoppa! 2, and Theresa Wong’s Mud Nest Signals.


Gyan Riley is a sought-after guitarist as well as composer, and has performed with Zakir Hussain, Lou Reed, John Zorn, the Kronos Quartet, Iva Bittova, the Bang-On-A-Can All-Stars, the San Francisco Symphony, and his father, the composer/pianist/vocalist Terry Riley.

Vernal – for string quartet, ukulele soloist and audience ukulele choir – was the brain child of Del Sol cellist Kathryn Bates, who wanted to give the audience “something to do” at Del Sol’s party.  Vernal is a gentle exploration of the beautiful simplicity and sound of the ukulele – with the right amount of wit, “new music weirdness”, and charm.


Turkish composer, pianist, and conductor Erberk Eryılmaz received his education at Samsun Municipality Conservatory, Ankara State Conservatory, the Hartt School, Carnegie Mellon University, and is currently pursuing his doctoral studies at Rice University’s the Shepherd School of Music.

Hoppa! 2 is about music that travelled as a result of migration.  The seven connected movements are inspired by the masters of string playing from the Eastern Black Sea coast to Eastern Europe, focusing on the connection of Eastern European cultures without boundaries.  “Hoppa!” is an expression used commonly in Turkish meaning “Come on! Let’s go!”. This forward, ecstatic attitude captures the raw energy of Turkish folk music.


Theresa Wong is a composer, cellist and vocalist active at the intersection of music, experimentation, improvisation and the synergy of multiple disciplines. Bridging areas of music, dance, theater and visual art, Wong is interested in finding the potential for transformation in each work for both the artist and receiver alike.

Mud Nest Signals explores the idea of color, gesture and sound as a means of non-linguistic expression, as if to recall our experience of sensing before we learned how to speak. The sonic building components are 6 chords constructed in extended just intonation, paired with a three-mouthed mythical deity (in video form) that loom above the performers, interacting later with the quartet’s mantra-like vocalizations.

“…when you hit a landmark birthday, it’s fun to throw yourself a big party.  Not everyone realizes how gracious it can be on such occasions to share the spotlight with someone else.  But the…Del Sol Quartet…a tireless and inventive champion of new music can be counted among those with a expanded sense of etiquette” (Joshua Kosman)

Project Media

Theresa Wong – Mud Nest Signals (Excerpt)

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For string quartet, cello, voice and video, Mud Nest Signals explores how color, gesture and sound are means of non-linguistic expression. The quartet members utilize their voices throughout the piece, blending with Wong’s live singing as well as prerecorded vocalizations emanating from the ‘video vocal trio’. The 20 minute piece is written in extended just intonation., Performed by Theresa Wong (cello/voice), Del Sol String Quartet, video by Theresa Wong. (Whole Sol Festival – November 17, 2017)

Erberk Eryilmaz – Hoppa! 2 Excerpt
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Movement 6 & 7 are the culmination of this sweeping image of pan-Balkan/Turkish folk music. The flavor of mixed metered rhythms and heterophony are woven into the texture in a way that conjures a gypsy band, yet carries the complexity of a Bartok quartet. The quartet often punctuates this sound world with stomping or counting “1,2,3” in Turkish “Bir, iki, üç.”

Gyan Riley “Vernal”
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“Vernal” is written for string quartet, ukulele soloist, and audience partipatory ukulele choir. This creates a wonderful opportunity for audience engagement on a direct and personal level with the context of beautiful music.

5:44 is a beautiful ukulele solo by Gyan Riley, composer and solo ukulele player.

1:40 has delightful “new music”-inspired ukulele choir techniques .

Start and End Dates



San Francisco, California

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Last update on August 27, 2018

Associated Event

November 17, 2017 | San Francisco, CA
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Project Created By

San Francisco, California
Del Sol began as a thought on the night shift at Fermilab. Charlton Lee loved the cutting edge of physics research – always looking for the next discovery, pushing boundaries. But he missed the way music connected people, building community by communicating in ways physics never would. What if he could bring that scientific passion…

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Berkeley, California
Brooklyn, New York


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