Del Sol Quartet Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Whole Sol Festival

Del Sol Quartet (Benjamin Kreith and Rick Shinozaki, violins; Charlton Lee, viola; Kathryn Bates, cello) celebrates its 25th anniversary with the Whole Sol Festival, November 16-18, 2017, at the Atrium Theater in the San Francisco War Memorial Veterans Building. Special guests include Terry Riley, Gyan Riley, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Daniel Wohl - all performing their own compositions. Del Sol celebrates California's musical legacy of unfettered invention and openness with world premieres of music by Gabriela Lena Frank, Theresa Wong, Gyan Riley, and Erberk Eryilmaz. The festival will also mark the release of Del Sol's latest album on the Sono Luminus label, Dark Queen Mantra featuring new music by Terry Riley.

Founded in 1992, the Grammy-nominated Del Sol String Quartet shares living music with an ever-growing community of adventurous listeners. Del Sol's programming explores narratives and cultures from around the world, reflecting the stories and sounds of the Pacific Rim as vibrantly as those heard in European concert halls or East Coast art spaces. The ensemble has commissioned and premiered over 100 works from a diverse range of international composers, including Terry Riley, Mason Bates, Gabriela Lena Frank, Chinary Ung, Mohammed Fairouz, Tania León, Ken Ueno, Peter Sculthorpe, Reza Vali, and Per Nørgård. In 2018, the quartet will premiere a new string quartet by Frederic Rzewski at Miller Theatre at Columbia University in New York.

Based in San Francisco, the ensemble is a leading force in 21st century chamber music - whether introducing Ben Johnston's microtonal Americana at the Library of Congress, exploring Andean soundscapes with Gabriela Lena Frank and traditional musicians, deconstructing Ruth Crawford's radical experimental processes with East Bay schoolchildren, or rocking Mason Bates' techno grooves in his San Francisco club dance party.

Whole Sol Festival: November 16-18, 2017
The Atrium Theater at the San Francisco War Memorial Veterans Building

Thursday, November 16: Dark Queen Mantra
Music of Terry Riley with special guests Gyan Riley and Terry Riley
Opening night celebrates the music of Terry Riley and the release of Del Sol's new album, Dark Queen Mantra. The evening features Del Sol's distinctive, off-book versions of G Song and The Wheel & Mythic Birds Waltz, performed from memory. Guitarist Gyan Riley joins Del Sol in the first performance of an expanded version of Terry Riley's Dark Queen Mantra. Terry Riley will also play solo and in duo with Gyan.

"Terry Riley doesn't limit his music within a final double-bar but allows it to keep on growing - he composed more music for us to play after 'finishing' Dark Queen Mantra, and so we are performing an expanded version of that piece for the first time on this concert," Del Sol violinist Benjamin Kreith explains. "As a quartet, we've found new energy and growth through the experience of performing Terry's quartets off-book, by memory. As musicians, we've found an inspiring example - Terry has the strength to follow his own path balanced with the humility and curiosity of an eternal student."

Friday, November 17: It's Our Party
With special audience participation in Gyan Riley's piece for quartet and ukuleles
It's Our Party features three world premieres by young Turkish composer Erberk Eryilmaz, who brings the irresistible energy of his native folk music to the concert stage; Theresa Wong, a brilliant Berkeley-based composer/improviser, who explores the resonances of "just intonation;" and Gyan Riley, whose new piece for quartet features an audience-participation ukulele choir. This evening also includes electronic soundscapes and visuals by composer Daniel Wohl.

Saturday, November 18: Kanto Kechua
Music of Gabriela Lena Frank with special guest Gabriela Lena Frank
Closing night features the world premiere of Kanto Kechua by the award-winning, multicultural composer Gabriela Lena Frank, whose music reflects and explores her Peruvian heritage. Frank joins Del Sol with her whirlwind piano playing, and the concert will also include her favorite Andean-inspired chamber music. Equally at home with the Philadelphia Orchestra or volunteering in a rural high school, Gabriela Lena Frank embodies the ideals of musical community.

Dark Queen Mantra: Music of Terry Riley and Stefano Scodanibbio (Sono Luminus, August 25)

On August 25, the quartet adds another eclectic album, Dark Queen Mantra, to its critically acclaimed eight-album discography. The album features Terry Riley's Dark Queen Mantra (2015) performed by Del Sol with Terry Riley's son, guitarist Gyan Riley; Mas Lugares (su Madrigali di Monteverdi) by Stefano Scodanibbio (2003); and Terry Riley's The Wheel & Mythic Birds Waltz from 1983.

Like many worthwhile endeavors, this album began with a friendship. Del Sol violist Charlton Lee first met guitarist Gyan Riley while playing in an ensemble led by the composer/bassist Gavin Bryars. "I'd been wanting to find more opportunities to play with Gyan ever since we met," Charlton explains. "And with Terry's 80th birthday on the horizon it seemed a perfect time to commission a new piece for all of us to play together." The quartet had its first chance to play the music of Stefano Scodanibbio thanks to Gyan Riley, who curated a memorial concert celebrating Scodanibbio's music at The Stone in New York and invited Del Sol to participate. An avant-garde double bassist, Scodanibbio was also a collaborator of Terry Riley, notably on diamond fiddle language, and so Del Sol pairs his music with Riley's on this album.

Dark Queen Mantra was commissioned for Del Sol Quartet and guitarist Gyan Riley to mark Terry Riley's 80th birthday year. The piece begins brightly with "Vizcaino," named for the hotel in Algeciras where Riley first stayed on arrival in Spain. The distinctively Spanish opening motive plays with shifting groupings and irregular accents. Riley began writing the second movement, "Goya with Wings," with Francisco Goya's paintings in mind. The final movement, "Dark Queen Mantra," explores a heavier and more insistent groove. As Riley put it, "it gets dark."

Stefano Scodanibbio's Mas Lugares (su Madrigali di Monteverdi) refracts Monteverdi through the lens of bassist/composer Scodanibbio's prodigious timbral imagination. The piece is dedicated to Luciano Berio, another master of transcription and reinvention of music of the past.

In his The Wheel & Mythic Birds Waltz, Terry Riley views an Indian tabla rhythm through a kaleidoscope of possibilities, gently shifting the meter to set it dancing in new ways. Sometimes the music surges forward with sweeping melodies, sometimes it lingers looping in eddies. In a pre-concert talk with Del Sol Quartet in Camptonville, California, Riley revealed that the birds he imagined in the piece came from Anagorika Govinda's account of Tibetan Buddhism, The Way of the White Clouds. He had been reading the book and wanted to give the birds a dance to do.

More about Del Sol Quartet

Del Sol Quartet has performed at prestigious venues around the world, including the Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, Smithsonian Museum and National Gallery of Art in Washington DC; Symphony Space in New York City; Other Minds Festival of New Music in San Francisco; Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Santa Cruz, CA; Clefworks Festival, Montgomery, AL; Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Houston; Santa Fe Opera in NM; Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, NY; Candlelight Concerts, Columbia, MD; University of Vermont Lane Series in Burlington, VT; Davos and Hirzenberg Music Festivals in Switzerland; and the Chengdu Festival of Contemporary Music in China.

Del Sol has breached the wall between pit and stage in Stringwreck, its cheeky collaboration with critically acclaimed choreographers Janice Garrett and Charles Moulton; explored the intimate impact of AIDS in composer Ricky Ian Gordon's deeply moving, autobiographical chamber opera, Green Sneakers, with baritone Jesse Blumberg; and immersed the audience in a four-dimensional soundscape created with composer and video artist Chris Jonas in Garden. Whether diving deeply into a single work or transcending the limits of genre, Del Sol's carefully crafted chamber music programs engage audiences fully in the concert experience.

With its deep commitment to education, Del Sol has reached thousands of K-12 students through inventive school performances, workshops, coaching and residencies. The Quartet members also have worked closely with student composers, musicians and faculty artists at universities across the country, including Dartmouth, MIT, Brandeis, Northeastern, Georgetown, Carnegie Mellon, University of New Mexico, University of California at Berkeley, San Diego, and Santa Cruz, Chapman, Augustana, Illinois State, the Peabody Institute, the Manhattan School of Music and San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

The Whole Sol Festival is sponsored in part by a grant from Grants for the Arts, with additional support from the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, The Amphion Foundation, Inc. and the Mervyn L. Brenner Foundation. The piano performances at this festival are sponsored in part by a grant from the Ross McKee Foundation.


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