Mivos Quartet to Play Steve Reich in BANG ON A CAN: UNORTHODOX at The Jewish Museum
Steve Reich's 1988 work Different Trains for String Quartet and pre-recorded performance tape, pioneered a new way of composing, using recorded speech as a source for melodies, and won a Grammy Award in 1989 for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. During World War II, Reich made train journeys between New York and Los Angeles to visit his parents, who had separated. Years later, he pondered the fact that, as a Jew, had he been in Europe instead of the United States at that time, he might have been travelling in Holocaust trains. In the piece, Reich combines taped speech from his governess, a train conductor, and others with the string instruments by selecting small speech samples and then notating them as accurately as possible in musical notation.
Reich's Triple Quartet (1999) is a three-movement work written for three string quartets, often performed live by one string quartet and pre-recorded tape. According to Reich, the initial inspiration for the piece came from the last movement of Bartók's Fourth Quartet. "Its energy was my starting point," he says. While working on the piece, he heard the music of Alfred Schnittke for the first time, specifically his string quartets, which deeply affected his writing, as did Michael Gordon's Yo Shakespeare. Reich says, "the piece became considerably more dissonant and expressionistic than expected," as a result of these influences.
Violin Phase is an example of Reich's phasing technique, which he explored deeply in the 1960s in pieces including It's Gonna Rain, Come Out, and Piano Phase. Performed live by Mivos on four violins, the many melodic patterns resulting from the combination of identical instruments playing the same repeating pattern creates a unique psychoacoustic musical experience.
On view through March 27, 2016, the Jewish Museum's Unorthodox is a large-scale group exhibition featuring over 50 contemporary artists from around the world whose practices mix forms and genres without concern for artistic conventions. Though the artists in Unorthodox come from a wide variety of backgrounds and generations, they are united in their spirit of independence and individuality. Through over 200 works, the exhibition highlights the importance of iconoclasm and art's key role in breaking rules and traditions. Numerous works examine social and political values, religion and humanism, trauma, and identity, and explore the relationship between the human figure and the modern creative process.
This is the second year of the Jewish Museum and Bang on a Can's partnership, producing dynamic musical performances inspired by the Museum's diverse slate of exhibitions. The series will include five programs throughout the year, primarily in the Jewish Museum's Scheuer Auditorium (Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street). The season began with a free outdoor performance by DJ Spooky at the Museum Mile Festival on June 9, a July 9 concert by innovative violinist-composer Todd Reynolds in conjunction with the Museum's exhibition Repetition and Difference, and a November 5 concert with bassist Robert Black and the Hartt Bass Band tied to the Museum's The Power of Pictures. The final concert of the season, Brazil Gardens and Beyond, will be on May 12 and feature the ever-innovative Brazilian-New Yorker Arto Lindsay.
The Mivos Quartet, "one of America's most daring and ferocious new-music ensembles" (The Chicago Reader), is devoted to performing the works of contemporary composers, presenting new music to diverse audiences. Since the quartet's beginnings in 2008 they have performed and closely collaborated with an ever-expanding group of international composers who represent multiple aesthetics of contemporary classical composition. Commissioning and premiering new music for string quartet is essential to the quartet's mission; Mivos has performed works by emerging and established composers including Alex Mincek, Helmut Lachenmann, Anna Clyne, Wolfgang Rihm, Samson Young, Luke DuBois, Philip Glass, Huang Ruo, Felipe Lara, Sam Pluta, Tristan Perich and Kirsten Broberg. They have appeared at venues including The Guggenheim Museum, Kennedy Center, Zankel Hall, MoMA, The Stone, Issue Project Room, and Roulette, and have appeared on concert series including Wien Modern (Vienna, Austria), Darmstadt Internationalen Ferienkurse für Neue Musik (Darmstadt, Germany), Asphalt Festival (Düsseldorf, Germany), Concerti Aperitivo (Udine, Italy), HellHOT! New Music Festival (Hong Kong), Shanghai New Music Week (Shanghai, China), Edgefest (Ann Arbor, MI), and Aldeburgh Music (UK). Mivos is invested in commissioning and premiering new music for string quartet, particularly in a context of close collaboration with composers over extended time-periods. In the current 2013-14 season, Mivos has collaborated on new works with Sam Pluta (Lucerne Festival Commission), Dan Blake (Jerome Commission), Mark Barden (Wien Modern Festival Commission), Scott Wollschleger, and Patrick Higgins (ZS), and in early 2014 will develop new work with Richard Carrick (Fromm Commission), Eric Wubbels (CMA commission), Kate Soper, and poet/musician Saul Williams.
In addition to their international performing activities, Mivos is active in education, and has conducted workshops at CUNY Graduate Center, Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, Royal Northern College of Music (UK), Shanghai Conservatory (China), University Malaya (Malaysia), Yong Siew Toh Conservatory (Singapore), the Hong Kong Art Center, and MIAM University in Istanbul (Turkey). The quartet also runs the annual Mivos/Kanter String Quartet Composition Prize, established to support the work of emerging and mid-career composers and to encourage continued interest in new compositions for string quartet. The winning composer, selected from over one hundred and fifty applicants, receives a performance of their work in New York City on the Mivos Quartet concert season and a cash prize. In 2013 Mivos initiated a second competition for composers of Chinese descent, called the I-Creation Prize.
Beyond expanding the string quartet repertoire, Mivos is also committed to working with guest artists, exploring multi-media projects involving live video and electronics, creating original compositions and arrangements for the quartet, and performing improvised music. This has led to collaborations with artists such as Dan Blake, Ned Rothenberg, Chris Speed, Timucin Sahin, Saul Williams, and Nate Wooley.
The members of Mivos are: violinists Olivia De Prato and Joshua Modney, violist Victor Lowrie, and cellist Mariel Roberts, each of whom are recognized individually as extraordinary voices in contemporary music, and perform frequently with leading new music ensembles including Ensemble Signal, Victoire, and Wet Ink. They are all graduates of the Master's in Contemporary Performance degree program at the Manhattan School of Music.
Tickets for the February 4, and May 12 programs are $18 general public; $15 students and senior citizens; and $12 for Jewish Museum members and Bang on a Can list members, and include exhibition admission prior to the performance. Further program and ticket information is available by calling 212.423.3337 or at TheJewishMuseum.org/calendar. The Jewish Museum is located at Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street, Manhattan.
Bang on a Can is dedicated to making music new. Founded by composers Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, who curatored the first Marathon concert in 1987 and remain co-Artistic Directors to this day, Bang on a Can has been creating an international community dedicated to innovative music, wherever it is found. With adventurous programs, it commissions new composers; performs, presents, and records new work; develops new audiences; and educates the musicians of the future. "Bang on a Can plays "a central role in fostering a new kind of audience that doesn't concern itself with boundaries. If music is made with originality and integrity, these listeners will come" (The New York Times). Current projects include the annual Bang on a Can Marathon; The People's Commissioning Fund, a membership program to commission emerging composers; the Bang on a Can All-Stars, who tour to major festivals and concert venues around the world; the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA, a professional development program for young musicians; Asphalt Orchestra, Bang on a Can's extreme street band; and Found Sound Nation, a musical outreach program partnering with the U.S. State Department to create OneBeat, a program that bridges the gulf between young American musicians and young musicians from developing countries. For more information, visit www.bangonacan.org.
Located on Museum Mile at Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street, the Jewish Museum is one of the world's preeminent institutions devoted to exploring art and Jewish culture from ancient to contemporary, offering intellectually engaging, educational, and provocative exhibitions and programs for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Museum was established in 1904, when Judge Mayer Sulzberger donated 26 ceremonial objects to The Jewish Theological Seminary as the core of a museum collection. Today, the Museum maintains a collection of over 30,000 works of art, artifacts, and broadcast media reflecting global Jewish identity, and presents a diverse schedule of internationally acclaimed temporary exhibitions.
The Jewish Museum is located at 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, New York City. Museum hours are Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, 11am to 5:45pm; Thursday, 11am to 8pm; and Friday, 11am to 4pm. Museum admission is $15.00 for adults, $12.00 for senior citizens, $7.50 for students, free for visitors 18 and under and Jewish Museum members. Admission is Pay What You Wish on Thursdays from 5pm to 8pm and free on Saturdays. For information on the Jewish Museum, the public may call 212.423.3200 or visit the website at www.thejewishmuseum.org.