Solera Quartet Announces First Recording And Carnegie Debut
The Solera Quartet, embarking on its fourth season, has already accumulated a remarkable and unique list of accolades, garnered for their fiery musical expression, poetic sensibility, entrepreneurial acumen, and exceptional dedication to outreach initiatives.
Celebrating this banner year, the Solera Quartet's debut album, Every Moment Present, is due for release on September 25th, 2018. Comprised of three poignant string quartets by Mendelssohn, Janá?ek, and Caroline Shaw, the album explores the role of obsessive thought as creative muse.
On the album concept, the Quartet remarks:
"Every Moment Present draws us into three distinctly creative musical minds - each gripped by a consuming and ever-present focus during the conception of these works. Janá?ek's Intimate Letters is an expression of the composer's insatiable infatuation with a married woman 37 years his junior. Erratically swinging between wild howls and whispered promises, the work paints a daring portrait of maddening, unrequited love. Inviting us into an airier space, Caroline Shaw's Entr'acte embraces sudden, surprising musical shifts as an idée fixe. Inspired by a breathtakingly unexpected shift of character and key in Haydn's Op. 77 No. 2, Entr'acte quietly captivates as it moves between moments that in Shaw's own words: 'take you to the other side of Alice's looking glass, in a kind of absurd, subtle, technicolor transition.' Lastly, Mendelssohn wrote his Op. 80 String Quartet while grieving the sudden and tragic loss of his beloved sister, Fanny. In turn, the work ruminates relentlessly on the many faces of mortality and the struggle to understand and live alongside it. It was Mendelssohn own letters during this period that inspired the album's title. Expressing the profundity of his loss, he explained that Fanny was "every moment present" to him as an artistic champion, kindred soul, and collaborator. In this context, 'every moment present' also poetically describes our hope for the power of art - to deepen and enliven our ability to be fully present in the moment - for ourselves and for one another."
I-IV: Leoš Janá?ek: String Quartet No. 2 "Intimate Letters"
V: Caroline Shaw: Entr'acte
VI-IX: Felix Mendelssohn: String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 80
Future recordings include a multi-album project for Naxos slated for 2019, exploring the chamber music of George Enescu with pianist Josu de Solaun, First-Prize winner of the XIII George Enescu International Competition.
The Quartet continues this year of milestones by making their Carnegie Hall debut in Weill Auditorium on October 23, 2018. This concert is presented by Pro Musicis, which recently honored the Quartet with their 2017 International Award; the Solera Quartet is the first and only American chamber ensemble to earn this recognition in Pro Musicis' celebrated 53 year history. Executive Director John A. Haag states of the organization: "Father Eugène Merlet, a French Capuchin Franciscan priest and musician, founded Pro Musicis in Paris in 1965 to nurture and share the artistic inspiration of the world's finest concert artists. He pioneered the concept of a classical music award combined with a social mission. We invite you to be mindful of the Pro Musicis values: Music is vital for the well being of all. The spiritual message of music must be at the heart of all we do. The greatest joy in life is derived from giving joy to others."
In the spirit of these values, the Solera Quartet has a dedicated vein for outreach initiatives, and striving for new ways to improve the lives of others through music and artistic engagement. At the invitation of the non-profit organization Project: Music Heals Us, founded by Solera Quartet's violist, Molly Carr, the Quartet performed its first concert in a Connecticut prison in the spring of 2016. Inspired by this transformative experience, the Quartet shortly thereafter developed, designed, and implemented Project: Music Heals Us' Prison Residency Project, organizing visits and short-term residencies in correctional facilities nationwide, in order to bring live performance, meaningful discussion, and participatory workshops to incarcerated communities, and encourage a spirit of understanding, collaboration between artist and inmate, and stimulation of intellectual conversation. In January 2018, the Solera Quartet launched the Prison Residency Project's pilot Musical Immersion program with the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution, using funds from the Quartet's Pro Musicis International Award, for a week-long residency focused on the music, history, and impact of Beethoven, during which they offered an innovative composer's workshop available to inmates of any, or no, musical background. Working together with incarcerated individuals, most of whom did not read music, the Solera Quartet utilized innovative and unconventional means of helping the inmates develop their compositions by intuiting their musical intentions through gestures, markings, and words, bringing the inmates the benefits of creative expression, as well as the unique opportunity to truly collaborate with world-class artists.
"I sat in a crowd made up of men who society considers to be the least and lowly things of the earth and was brought along on a journey of tragedy, self-discovery, and eventually triumph, as I rode the waves of each vibration produced by your hearts...thank you for reminding me that even behind razor wire and locked inside walls of concrete I can still find strength, beauty, and hope for tomorrow." - Letter from inmate, December 18, 2016
In response to these initiatives, the Solera Quartet has been honored with the 2018 Guarneri String Quartet Residency, funded by the Sewell Family Foundation, under the auspices of the Chamber Music America Residency Partnership Program, to develop future residencies with correctional facilities across the nation.
"From the first tempestuous tremolos in the cello and viola, the piece was brimming with passion and drama. The group balanced perfectly as cellist Andrew Janss laid the foundation over which first violinist Miki-Sophia Cloud played her highly virtuosic runs. The second movement allegro assai was a sort of demonic dance, the whole group moving and playing in perfect synchronization. The Solera quartet did a remarkable job of exploring the full range of dynamics, from barely audible, drawing the listener in, to pushing the sound to its breaking point. Just when the audience thought they might lose control, there was a brief respite, only to descend back into madness. The last two movements of the quartet were just as expertly performed and rounded out a powerful performance. The Solera quartet showed a high level of maturity and proved that they should absolutely be regarded as one of the foremost young string quartets." -James Collins, Littleton Courier
Miki-Sophia Cloud, violin
Tricia Park, violin
Molly Carr, viola
Andrew Janss, cello