Peak Performances to Present ALL TERRAIN STRING FESTIVAL: BOLCOM 4X4

Peak Performances will present the All Terrain String Festival: Bolcom 4x4, a three-day festival in which four of the world's foremost string quartets will perform the work of prolific Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer William Bolcom, along with music by a wide variety of other composers, from Mozart to Dizzy Gillespie.

The Arditti Quartet, Chiara String Quartet, Harlem Quartet and Shanghai Quartet, joined byvirtuoso guest artists including jazz bassist John Patitucci and classical guitarist Eliot Fisk, will perform March 31 - April 2 at the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University. Shanghai Quartet, ensemble-in-residence at the University's John J. Cali School of Music, will perform with each of the other three quartets, as well as headline their own festival-concluding concert.

Peak Performances Executive Director Jedediah Wheeler conceived the All Terrain String Festival to celebrate the richness and range of the string quartet landscape. The festival is remarkably broad not only in its lineup, but also in the program of music comprising each concert. It opens, on March 31, with the Harlem Quartet, which aims to advance diversity in classical music, in part by performing works by minority composers in multiple genres. At the Kasser Theater they will play compositions by Latin Americans Rafael Hernandez Maran and Abelardo Valdes, as well as by Mozart, Dizzy Gillespie and Bolcom.

The Chiara String Quartet, which The New York Times has described as "remarkable...fresh and vital," and which specializes in premiering works by contemporary composers, will play two such works-by Jefferson Friedman and Gabriela Lena Frank, who studied with Bolcom-from memory, as well as Bolcom's Octet: Double Quartet, for which the Shanghai Quartet will join them, April 1 at 5pm. At 8pm that night, the Arditti Quartet,praised for "awesome intensity" and "utter technical command" by The New York Times and for its "astonishing virtuosity and bravery" by The Los Angeles Times, will perform the New York / New Jersey premieres of Bolcom's String Quartet no. 8 and, with guitarist Eliot Fisk, Hilda Paredes' Son dementes cuerdas. They will also play Elliott Carter's String Quartet no. 5, joined by the Shanghai Quartet, and Chaya Czernowin's Anea Crystal: Anea.

The festival will conclude with a concert by the "superb" (The Boston Globe) Shanghai Quartet, April 2 at 3pm. In addition to Dvorak's String Quartet no. 14 in A-Flat Major, op. 105, B. 193 and award-winning Chinese-American composer Zhou Long's Poems from Tang, the ensemble will give the world premiere performance of Bolcom's String Quartet no. 12, commissioned by Peak Performances.

Shanghai Quartet has been ensemble-in-residence at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University since 2002. In advance of the All Terrain String Festival, they will perform the Dvorak String Quartet no 14 in a Chamber Music Society (CMS) of Lincoln Center concert at Alice Tully Hall, on February 7. Peak Performances, with the University of Richmond, also commissioned another piece in the CMS concert, Penderecki's String Quartet no. 3: Leaves from an Unwritten Diary, which made its U.S. premiere at the Kasser in 2009. Peak Performances has commissioned several other pieces of music for Shanghai Quartet, including Du Yun's Tattooed in Snow, which made its world premiere at the Kasser Theater in 2015; and, with La Jolla Music Society, David Del Tredici's Bullycide (with Orion Weiss, piano and DaXun Zhang, double bass), which made its Northeast Premiere at the Kasser Theater in 2014.

All Terrain String Festival: Bolcom 4x4 coincides with the recent publication, by Edward B. Marks Music Company, of six of Bolcom's early string quartets. As Ronni Reich writes in an essay for the festival program, "While his string quartets are not his best-known works, they form a musical autobiography, spanning Bolcom's career from age 11 to 78." Bolcom tells Reich, "I tend to ask performers to do what I know I can't do. If I had my druthers, I would be a string quartet. I'd be an 8-armed, 4-playered entity.

Bolcom is a National Medal of Arts-winning American composer of chamber, operatic, vocal, choral, cabaret, ragtime and symphonic music. Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times calls him "a master musician of wide-ranging tastes and skills" who creates "beguiling music." Bolcom was a member of the faculty of the University of Michigan's School of Music from 1973 until his retirement in 2008. He won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1988 for 12 New Etudes for Piano, and his setting of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience, on the Naxos label, won four Grammy Awards in 2006. As a pianist he has performed and recorded his own work, frequently in collaboration with his wife and musical partner, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris. White Pine Records recently released their 25th album, Autumn Leaves.

Peter Robles of Serious Music Media has served as Program Consultant for All Terrain String Festival: Bolcom 4x4.


Friday, March 31
Harlem Quartet
Tickets: $20
Running Time: 90 minutes, including one intermission

What distinguishes the Harlem Quartet are superb musicianship, a genre-bending repertoire and a mission to advance diversity in classical music and engage new audiences with works by minority composers. This versatile ensemble easily transitions from classical music to jazzier fare. Its virtuosity and range are on full display in this program of works including "The Hunt," from Mozart's String Quartet no. 17 in B-flat Major, K.458; Bolcom's Three Rags for String Quartet;jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie's A Night in Tunisia; Latin American composers Rafael Hernández Marín's El Cumbanchero and Abelardo Valdés' Almendra;and contemporary music giant Osvaldo Golijov's Last Round, a grand finale in which the Harlem Quartet will be joined by the Shanghai Quartet and legendary jazz bassist John Patitucci.

The Harlem Quartet has received praise for its "panache" from The New York Times and for "bringing a new attitude to classical music, one that is fresh, bracing and intelligent," from The Cincinnati Enquirer. Since its 2006 debut at Carnegie Hall, the New York-based ensemble has performed throughout the U.S., the U.K., France, Belgium, Panama, Canada and in South Africa under the auspices of the U.S. State Department. The Quartet completed the Professional String Quartet Residency Program at New England Conservatory and participated in its exchange program in Paris, working extensively with violinist Günter Pichler. The Harlem Quartet has collaborated with Itzhak Perlman, Ida Kavafian, Carter Brey, Paul Katz, Fred Sherry, Anthony McGill, Paquito D'Rivera and Misha Dichter, and with jazz legends Chick Corea and Gary Burton on their Grammy Award-winning album Hot House. The ensemble has performed for the Obamas at the White House and been featured on WNBC, CNN, NBC's "Today Show," WQXR-FM, and PBS' "Newshour."

The Harlem Quartet is: Ilmar Gavilán and Melissa White (violins), Jaime Amador (viola) and Felix Umansky (cello).

Saturday, April 1
Chiara String Quartet
Tickets: $20
Running Time: 60 minutes, no intermission

The Chiara String Quartet performs amazing feats of musical memorization by playing without printed sheet music. Equally renowned for bringing fresh excitement to traditional string quartet repertoire and for creating insightful interpretations of new music, the Chiara has been lauded for its "highly virtuosic, edge-of-the-seat playing" (The Boston Globe). The Grammy-nominated ensemble is committed to the creation of new music and has commissioned and premiered works by contemporary composers since its inception, including two works featured in this concert: Jefferson Friedman's String Quartet no. 2 and Gabriela Lena Frank's Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout, both of which the Quartet will play by heart.Rounding out the program is Bolcom's Octet: Double Quartet, an homage to Mendelssohn's Octet, performed by Chiara and the Shanghai Quartet.

The Chiara String Quartet has established itself among America's most respected ensembles. Its members are currently Hixson-Lied Artists-in-Residence at the Glenn Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and were the Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University from 2008 until 2014. The Chiara was the quartet-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the 2015-16 season. Their recordings include Brahms by Heart, Bartók by Heart, a Grammy-nominated recording of Jefferson Friedman's String Quartets nos. 2 and 3, the Mozart and Brahms clarinet quintets and the world premiere recordings of Robert Sirota's Triptych and Gabriela Lena Frank's Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout. In addition to the Chiara Quartet's regular performances in major concert halls across the country, including Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall, it was one of the first string quartets to perform in alternative venues for chamber music performance. The Chiara trained and taught at The Juilliard School, mentoring for two years with the Juilliard Quartet as recipients of the Lisa Arnhold Quartet Residency.

Chiara String Quartet is Rebecca Fischer and Hyeyung Julie Yoon (violins), Jonah Sirota (viola) and Gregory Beaver (cello).

Saturday, April 1
Mingle with the Musicians Dinner
Tickets: $25

Audiences are welcome to a delicious buffet dinner with honored composer William Bolcom, Peak Performances Executive Director Jedediah Wheeler and members of the Chiara and Shanghai Quartets.

Saturday, April 1
Arditti Quartet
Tickets: $20
Running Time: 90 minutes, including one intermission

It is said that when violinist Irvine Arditti founded his quartet in 1974, the history of contemporary music was forever changed, leaving an indelible mark on the strings repertoire of the 20th century. According to New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini, Arditti has "one message for composers who dare to write pathbreaking and technically punishing music: 'Bring it on.'"

At the Kasser, Arditti will perform a wide-ranging program of music, including the New York / New Jersey premiere of Bolcom's String Quartet no. 8; the New York / New Jersey premiere of Hilda Paredes' Son dementes cuerdas, with beloved classical guitarist Eliot Fisk; Elliott Carter's String Quartet no. 5;and Chaya Czernowin's Anea Crystal: Anea, with the Shanghai Quartet.

The Arditti Quartet enjoys a worldwide reputation for its spirited and technically refined interpretations of contemporary and earlier 20th century music. Hundreds of string quartets and other chamber works have been written for the ensemble since its founding, giving the Arditti Quartet a firm place in music history. The ensemble believes that close collaboration with composers is vital to the process of interpreting modern music and therefore attempts to work with every composer whose music it plays. Its discography now features over 200 CDs, the most extensive available of quartet literature in the last 40 years. The Arditti Quartet has received many prizes, including the prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize-sometimes known as the Nobel Prize of music-for lifetime achievement. They are the only ensemble ever to receive this honor.

Arditti Quartet is: Irvine Arditti and Ashot Sarkissjan (violins), Ralf Ehlers (viola) and Lucas Fels (cello).

Guitarist Eliot Fisk is known worldwide as a charismatic performer famed for his adventurous and virtuosic repertoire. As his mentor Andres Segovia once wrote, he is "at the top line of our artistic world." In the 2016-17 season Fisk continues to break new ground for the guitar with marathon performances of his transcriptions of all six Bach solo cello suites at the National Gallery in Washington, DC. He regularly performs as soloist with prominent orchestras and for major concert series and guitar festivals around the world. The repertoire of the classical guitar has been transformed through Fisk's innumerable transcriptions and the many new works dedicated to him by contemporary composers.

Sunday, April 2
Shanghai Quartet
Tickets: $20
Running Time: 90 minutes, including one intermission

Known worldwide for its passionate musicality, impressive technique and an expansive repertoire melding the delicacy of Eastern music with the emotional breadth of the Western canon, the Shanghai Quartet is one of the world's foremost chamber ensembles. From traditional Chinese folk music to masterpieces of Western musical literature to cutting-edge contemporary works, the Quartet has expanded the musical palette of its devoted fans since its founding at the Shanghai Conservatory in 1983.

In this concert, Shanghai will perform the world premiere of Bolcom's String Quartet no. 12, which consists of nine succinct, contiguous movements in a nocturnal setting and was commissioned by Peak Performances; Antonín Dvor?ák's String Quartet no. 14 in A-flat Major, op. 105, B. 193; and Pulitzer Prize-winning Chinese-Americancomposer Zhou Long's Poems from Tang.

The Shanghai Quartet, ensemble-in-residence at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, has an international reputation for superb musicianship, championing new music, and juxtaposing traditions of Eastern and Western music. The Quartet collaborates with the most distinguished artists around the globe and regularly tours the major music centers of Europe, North America and Asia. Recent festival performances range from the International Music Festivals of Seoul and Beijing to the Festival Pablo Casals in France, Beethoven Festival in Poland, Yerevan Festival in Armenia and the Cartagena International Music Festival in Colombia. The Quartet has appeared at Carnegie Hall in chamber performances and with orchestra, and has collaborated with noted artists from Yo-Yo Ma to Menahem Pressler, and from pipa virtuosa Wu Man to the male vocal ensemble Chanticleer. The ensemble has premiered many important new works, including David Del Tredici's Bullycide and Penderecki's String Quartet no. 3: Leaves from an Unwritten Diary.

Shanghai Quartet is: Weigang Li and Yi-Wen Jiang (violins), Honggang Li (viola) and Nicholas Tzavaras (cello).

Legendary bassist and three-time Grammy Award-winner John Patitucci has performed throughout the world with his own band and with jazz luminaries Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Stan Getz, Pat Matheny, Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Nancy Wilson and many others. The New York Times has praised his "rich, room-filling sonority" and "dazzling technique."

Peak Performances is a program of the Office of Arts and Cultural Programming at Montclair State University and has been honored by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts with an Arts Citation of Excellence and Designation of Major Impact. Programs in this season are made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Alison and James T. Cirenza; Holly and Robert Gregory; and The Honorable Mary Mochary.

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