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In the Blue Room with Del Sol

Sun 8.5 8pm

Sunday, August 5, 2012, 8pm
Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium

Del Sol String Quartet Chamber Music Concert

Lou Harrison: Quartet Set
Chinary Ung: Spiral X: In Memoriam
Elena Kats-Chernin: Fast Blue Village
Jose Evangelista: Spanish Garland
Mason Bates Bagatelles for Amplified String Quartet and Electronica
           [World Premiere | Commissioned by Chamber Music America]

TICKETS: $25-30

The San Francisco-based Del Sol String Quartet is known for working with living composers from a wide range of cultural perspectives, and for this evening's special recital they have curated a chamber program that includes works by several composers familiar to Cabrillo Festival audiences. The major work of the evening is the world premiere of Mason Bates’ Bagatelles for Amplified String Quartet and Electronica, commissioned by Chamber Music America. Bates is perhaps best known for his expansion of the orchestra to include electronics, and his orchestral works have been featured at the Festival on three occasions. He currently serves as a composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony and spends many nights as DJ Masonic, a popular figure in the underground dance club scene. He joins us for the performance tonight when Del Sol String Quartet also performs works by Lou Harrison, Jose Evangelista, Elena Kats-Chernin, and Chinary Ung. The Quartet features violinists Kate Stenberg and Rick Shinozaki, Charlton Lee on viola, and Kathryn Bates Williams on cello.

"masters of all musical things they survey" —Gramophone Magazine

"high spirited…dynamic" —New York Times

Program Notes

String Quartet Set (1979)
Lou Harrison (1917-2003)

Lou Harrison’s String Quartet Set was commissioned in 1979 by Robert Aitken, the New Music Concerts of Toronto, and the Canada Council. The Orford String Quartet performed the premiere the same year in Toronto. It was recently recorded by the Del Sol String Quartet on a CD for release in 2013 on Sono Luminous Records. The Quartet has provided the following notes:

Variations on Walther von der Vogelweide’s “Song of Paradise” (“Nu alrest leb’ ich mir werde”): These variations were begun in the 1940s when Harrison first encountered the Minnesinger’s lovely melody. Walther lived from 1170 to 1228, and the variations are in European-style quintal counterpoint, also medieval in origin.
Plaint: We all complain, at least a little.
Estampie: A medieval peasant’s stamping dance, roughneck and Breughelish.
Rondeaux: This homage to Dandrieu and the French Baroque is Harrison’s only fully “harmonic” piece in the European style.
Usul (Turkish for a rhythmic mode): As eighteenth-century European composers wrote Turkish marches imitating the Janissary bands, this movement imitates the gentle melodic style of an old Turkish Court.

String Quartet Set was recorded recently by the Del Sol String Quartet and will be released on their next CD by Sono Luminus Records in 2013.

Spiral X: In Memoriam for Amplified String Quartet ((2007)
Chinary Ung (b. 1942)

Born in Cambodia, it was not until he was a teenager that Chinary Ung heard Western music for the first time. After immigrating to the United States in 1964, he received his doctorate in 1974 from New York’s Columbia University, and now teaches composition at the University of California at San Diego. In 1989 he received the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for his second orchestral piece Inner Voices (1986), given its West Coast premiere at the 1989 Cabrillo Festival, where Ung was a Festival Guest Composer. Spiral X (Spiral Ten) was introduced by the Del Sol String Quartet on October 19, 2007 at the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Genocide is not an easy theme to acknowledge in music, but for Ung, whose studies in Buddhism have led him to express compassion for human suffering, it had become a necessity. In 2007, when he was awarded a Koussevitsky Commission to write a work for the Del Sol String Quartet, he decided to compose a tenth work in his “Spiral” series that would commemorate the Cambodian holocaust perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. Among the 1.7 million killed in Cambodia during those years were half of Ung’s family members and many close friends.

The cries and shouts emanating from the four members of the string quartet as
Spiral X is performed present a tremendous challenge. The players intone nonsensical phonemes and sing in raw village style, very explicitly scored. In addition, various members are asked to sing and whistle, often while playing completely different material. Much of the work appears to be a dialogue between very different individual personalities until the conclusion, with its shamanistic unison shouting directed at dispelling the suffering of the victims, living and dead.

Suggested recording:

Ring of Fire: Music of the Pacific Rim, Del Sol String Quartet
Other Minds Records  B001C47ZQU

Fast Blue Village (2007)
Elena Kats-Chernin (b. 1957)

Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Elena Kats-Chernin studied music at the Gnessin Musical College in Moscow before immigrating to Australia in 1975. After graduating from the New South Wales Conservatory of Music in 1981, she spent the next thirteen years in Germany studying with composer Helmut Lachenmann before returning to Sydney in 1994, where she now lives. She has composed extensively for dance, chamber ensemble and piano, as well as having written three operas and two piano concertos.

Kats-Chernin has been at the Cabrillo Festival on two previous occasions: in 2010 for the American premiere of her
Heaven is Closed (2000), and last year for the American premiere of Re-Collecting ASTORoids (2010).
Fast Blue Village is part of a series of pieces that derive their materials from a piece Kats-Chernin wrote for Present Music in Milwaukee that was introduced in April 2007. It was called Village Idiot, scored for twelve instruments, and was fifteen minutes long. The piece went so well that she had some requests to make different shorter versions of it for different instrumentations. Fast Blue Village is for string quartet, but there is also a shorter, four-minute version, Urban Village 3, for viola and piano, written for the daughter of one of Kats-Chernin’s colleagues for her Conservatorium High School exam. The composer also wrote a version for the Clarity Quartet called Urban Village 4, for four clarinets. Kats-Chernin composed this particular version of Fast Blue Village to play herself at a Live Green Event in Sydney in August 2007. It is written in 5/4 meter, but the patterns are divided in different ways in different sections.

Fast Blue Village
was recorded recently by the Del Sol String Quartet and will be released on their next CD by Sono Luminus Records in 2013.

Spanish Garland: Twelve Folk Melodies from Spain (1993)
José Evangelista (b. 1943)

Born in Valencia, Spain, José Evangelista began musical studies while simultaneously studying physics. After settling in Montreal, Canada in 1970, he studied composition with André Prevost and Bruce Mather, and has been a professor of music at the University of Montreal since 1979. His music has been performed by a wide variety of ensembles, including the Kronos Quartet and Ensemble Modern in Frankfurt, and he served as composer-in-residence with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra between 1993 and 1995.

Evengelista’s music is based exclusively on melody. In order to achieve this, he has developed a heterophonic method of composing in which the melodic line generates echoes of itself and creates an illusion of polyphony. His music draws its roots from several musical traditions: to his Spanish origins he has added the influence of the Indonesian gamelan, the Western avant-garde, and that of various modal musics.

Spanish Garland consists of twelve Spanish folk melodies, including work songs, lullabies, entertainment songs, religious songs and dances. They come from a variety of regions in Spain and most are fairly old. Evangelista’s purpose in writing Spanish Garland was to present the melodies without formal developments or modulations in order to emphasize the validity of Spanish music in its pure linear dimension, that is, as melody.

Spanish Garland
was recorded recently by the Del Sol String Quartet and will be released on their next CD by Sono Luminus Records in 2013.