The Aizuri Quartet absolutely loves commissioning and bringing to life new works by talented living composers. There’s nothing quite as fun and illuminating as entering the mind of a composer and taking part in their creative process! The Quartet is proud to have commissioned and premiered works by Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw (“Blueprint”), Paul Wiancko (“Lift”), Yevgeniy Sharlat (“RIPEFG”), Gabriella Smith (“Carrot Revolution”), Rene Orth (“Stripped”), Alyssa Weinberg (“Parallels”) and Andrew Lipke (“My Love”). The Quartet looks forward to the upcoming premieres of new string quartets by Steven Dankner and Ilari Kaila.
To Hide in a Tree of Sound
The Aizuri Quartet is thrilled to be a part of To Hide in a Tree of Sound, a 70-minute chamber opera by composer Lembit Beecher and librettist Hannah Moscovitch, currently being developed through a generous grant from the The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in Philadelphia. The opera focuses on the imaginary landscape of childhood, and in particular, the way children use their imaginations to deal with trauma. At the center of the work is a modular, music-generating sculpture, which will function both as a musical instrument and as a character in the drama, a surreal creature or confidante imagined by the child. Design and construction of the sculpture is being led by architect Simon Kim and engineer Mark Yim, of the University of Pennsylvania, and engineer Youngmoo Kim, who directs Drexel University’s ExCITe Center. Directed by Brian Staufenbiel, conducted by Nicole Paiement, and featuring soprano Kiera Duffy and the Aizuri Quartet, the opera will premiere September 8 and 9, 2017 at the Black Box Theatre of Drexel’s URBN Center Annex.
For more information, visit: http://lembitbeecher.com/treeofsound/
Coursera: The World of the String Quartet
In the Fall of 2014, the Aizuri Quartet was excited to be featured in the filming of The World of the String Quartet, an online course exploring the rich history and repertoire of the string quartet, hosted by Arnold Steinhardt, first violinist of the legendary Guarneri Quartet, and interpretive analysis instructor Mia Chung. The Aizuri Quartet performed and discussed excerpts of great string quartets from across the historical spectrum, including Beethoven’s String Quartet Op. 130, Mendelssohn’s String Quartet Op. 80, Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden,” the Ravel and Debussy String Quartets, Bartok’s Fifth and Sixth String Quartets, Ives’ String Quartet Nr. 1, and Schoenberg’s Second String Quartet with soprano Rachel Sterrenberg. It was such an honor to delve into these remarkable pieces with Arnold Steinhardt, who shared his amazing stories and unparalleled wisdom! The free course comprises seven hour-long programs, and was released on February 5, 2015. To learn more and sign up, please visit: https://www.coursera.org/course/stringquartet
In 2015 the Aizuri Quartet was a resident ensemble at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, presenting new commissions alongside works from the standard quartet literature in connection with the museum’s various special exhibitions. Three works were commissioned for the Aizuri Quartet by composers Alyssa Weinberg, Gabriella Smith and Rene Orth. Alyssa Weinberg’s “Parallels” was presented as a musical companion to the Barnes Foundation’s retrospective of the 20th Century American modernist William Glackens, and received its premiere on February 1st, 2015. Gabriella Smith’s “Carrot Revolution” was premiered at the Barnes on May 11th, 2015, in conjunction with the special exhibition “The Order of Things.” This exhibition featured three large-scale installations by renowned artists Mark Dion, Judy Pfaff, and Fred Wilson. On October 28th, 2015, Rene Orth’s string quartet “Stripped” received its premiere performance, alongside Alyssa Weinberg and Gabriella Smith’s works. This concert complemented the launch of two Fall 2015 exhibitions: “Strength and Splendor: Wrought Iron from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen” and “Ellen Harvey: Metal Painting.”
Passionate about music education, the Aizuri Quartet enjoys working with students in a variety of ways, and we’ve had some of our most exciting and moving musical experiences interacting with young listeners and players! Highlights of our past educational events include:
- Working with the music students in a dozen middle and high schools throughout Westchester and Putnam Counties in NY as the 2015-2016 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence at Caramoor. Through concert-conversations, coachings, and playing side-by-side with the student orchestras, we explored diverse topics ranging from the roots and evolution of the string quartet genre to overcoming stage fright and embarking on careers in music.
- Working with music students in Latin America and Europe throughout our Curtis on Tour travels in June 2015! We had the incredible opportunity to coach talented chamber ensembles and solo instrumentalists at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City; the Centro Nacional de la Música in San José, Costa Rica; the Fundación de Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Chile in Santiago, Chile; and the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen, Germany. We loved the chance to practice our Español and Deutsch!
- Working with the music students of the Soulsville Charter School and Hutchison School, as well as performing at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, in Memphis, Tennessee. We loved being able to share a crazy contemporary quartet with the students, and in return being treated to a wonderful performance by the Soulsville students’ jazz band!
- Assembly performances and Q&A’s, as well as coaching orchestral and chamber music students, at Golden Gate High School and Palmetto Ridge High School in Naples, Florida. Here’s a review of our engagement in the Naples Daily News
- Interactive performance for the Curiosity Concerts series at a packed Byram Shubert Library in Greenwich, Connecticut. The Aizuris introduced a room full of young listeners and their parents to three great string quartets by exploring the themes of conversation and friendship in Mozart’s String Quartet K. 575, the ups and downs of train travel in Janacek’s “Kreutzer Sonata,” and imagining the various shapes and forms of water in Debussy’s String Quartet.
The Aizuri Quartet curated two critically-acclaimed performances of Terry Riley’s “In C” on December 11, 2014. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Terry Riley’s groundbreaking minimalist composition, the Kimmel Center’s SEI Innovation Studio was transformed into a social, lounge-like space that offered musicians and audience members a completely immersive experience of the piece. Featuring “in-the-round” performances by the Aizuri Quartet, members of eighth blackbird, and the Curtis Institute of Music’s 20/21 Ensemble, audiences were treated to a multimedia soundscape hearkening to 1964.
Check out a couple of lovely accounts of the evening here:
Broad Street Review: http://www.broadstreetreview.com/music/terry-rileys-in-c-at-the-kimmel-center
Philadelphia Inquirer: http://articles.philly.com/2014-12-14/news/57015325_1_david-lang-singers-deconstructed-music
Presented by LiveConnections at World Café Live in Philadelphia, the Aizuri Quartet collaborated with award-winning poet Denice Frohman and composer Andrew Lipke in an eclectic and genre-defying program that included spoken word, rock, string quartets by Debussy and Lembit Beecher, and the premiere performances of two commissioned works: “Anniversary” (words by Denice Frohman and music by Andrew Lipke), and Andrew Lipke’s large-scale song cycle/string quartet “My Love.” We loved discovering Denice and Andrew’s profound artistry and ultimately sharing the stage with them!
Listen to an excerpt of “My Love” here.