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Known for their virtuosity, exuberance, and often-daring repertory choices, the Pacifica Quartet consistently plays with “clarity, perfect togetherness and the finest of tuning” (The London Times). Their numerous awards include the Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2006, Musical America’s “Ensemble of the Year” in 2009, and a 2009 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance. Internationally recognized as one of the foremost interpreters of string quartet cycles, the Pacifica performed all of the Beethoven quartets on Music in the Park Series over three seasons, from 2008-2011. The Pacifica String Quartet’s immersive and unforgettable style takes us to a realm “to which only the miracle of music can transport us” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser, top prize-winner in the 2002 Tchaikovsky Competition, joins the Pacifica in Schubert’s beloved String Quintet and a new quintet by Pulitzer Prize-winning MacArthur Fellow, Julia Wolfe, a co-commission of the Schubert Club and three partnering presenters.
About Pacifica String Quartet
Sibbi Bernhardsson, violin
Masumi Per Rostad, viola
Brandon Vamos, cello
Recognized for its virtuosity, exuberant performance style, and often-daring repertory choices, over the past two decades the Pacifica Quartet has gained international stature as one of the finest chamber ensembles performing today. The Pacifica tours extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia, performing regularly in the world’s major concert halls. Named the quartet-in-residence at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in March 2012, the Pacifica was also the quartet-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009 – 2012) – a position that has otherwise been held only by the Guarneri String Quartet – and received the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance.
The Pacifica Quartet has carved a niche for itself as the preeminent interpreter of string quartet cycles, harnessing the group’s singular focus and incredible stamina to portray each composer’s evolution, often over the course of just a few days. Having given highly acclaimed performances of the complete Carter cycle in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Houston; the Mendelssohn cycle in Napa, Australia, New York, and Pittsburgh; and the Beethoven cycle in New York, Denver, St. Paul, Chicago, Napa, and Tokyo (in an unprecedented presentation of five concerts in three days at Suntory Hall), the Quartet presented the monumental Shostakovich cycle in Chicago and New York during the 2010-2011 season and in Montreal and at London’s Wigmore Hall in the 2011-2012 season. The Quartet has been widely praised for these cycles, with critics calling the concerts “brilliant,” “astonishing,” “gripping,” and “breathtaking.”
An ardent advocate of contemporary music, the Pacifica Quartet commissions and performs many new works, including those by Keeril Makan, in partnership with the Celebrity Series of Boston and the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, during the 2012-13 season, and Shulamit Ran, in partnership with the Music Accord consortium, London’s Wigmore Hall, and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, during the 2014-15 season. The work – entitled Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory – had its New York debut as part of the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center series.
In 2008 the Quartet released its Grammy Award-winning recording of Carter’s quartets Nos. 1 and 5 on the Naxos label; the 2009 release of quartets Nos. 2, 3, and 4 completed the two-CD set. Cedille Records recently released the third of four volumes comprising the entire Shostakovich cycle, along with other contemporary Soviet works, to rave reviews: “The playing is nothing short of phenomenal.” (Daily Telegraph, London) Recent projects include recording Leo Ornstein’s rarely-heard piano quintet with Marc-André Hamelin with an accompanying tour, the Brahms piano quintet with the legendary pianist Menahem Pressler, and the Brahms and Mozart clarinet quintets with the Metropolitan Opera’s principal clarinetist Anthony McGill.
The members of the Pacifica Quartet live in Bloomington, IN, where they serve as quartet-in-residence and full-time faculty members at the Jacobs School of Music. Prior to their appointment, the Quartet was on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana from 2003 to 2012. The Pacifica Quartet also serves as resident performing artist at the University of Chicago.
The Pacifica Quartet is endorsed by D’Addario and proudly uses their strings.
About Johannes Moser
Born into a musical family in 1979 as a dual citizen of Germany and Canada, Moser began studying the cello at the age of eight and became a student of Professor David Geringas in 1997. He was the top prize winner at the 2002 Tchaikovsky Competition, in addition to being awarded the Special Prize for his interpretation of the Rococo Variations.
Moser is gaining increasing renown for his efforts to expand the reach of the classical genre, as well as his passionate focus on new music, and over the next season looks forward to working on new works with Julia Wolfe and Andrew Norman. In October 2012 he premiered Magnetar, a concerto for electric cello by Enrico Chapela, which Moser performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, and in the 2013-14 season, he continued this relationship with the orchestra performing Michel van der Aa’s cello concerto Up-close.
Moser is committed to reaching out to young audiences, from kindergarten to college and beyond. From his 2010 American tour with toy pianist Phyllis Chen “Sounding Off: A Fresh Look at Classical Music”, to outreach activities on campuses and performances in alternative venues, Moser aims to present classical music in ways with which listeners of all ages can engage and connect.
A voracious reader of everything from Kafka to Collins, and an avid outdoorsman, Johannes Moser is a keen hiker and mountain biker in what little spare time he has.
About Julia Wolfe
As a composer, Julia Wolfe draws inspiration from folk, classical, and rock genres, bringing a modern sensibility to each while simultaneously tearing down the walls between them. Her music is distinguished by an intense physicality that pushes performers to extremes and demands attention from audiences. Wolfe came to composing when, as a freshman, she accidentally entered Jane Heirich’s class at the University of Michigan, where she was enrolled in the liberal arts Residential College. While Wolfe grew up in a household of music lovers and played piano and folk guitar, this class, in which all music was presented without hierarchy, would be Wolfe’s first formal composition training. She was drawn to the course and, eventually, the life calling, because she wanted to be a creator rather than an observer. The study of social sciences continues to interest Wolfe to this day, but composing gave her an opportunity to make something. Continue Reading
Wolfe went on to study at Yale and Princeton universities, and is currently on the composition faculty at the Steinhardt School at New York University. Nearly 30 years ago she co-founded the music collective Bang on a Can with composers Michael Gordon and David Lang. The organization was so-named after Wolfe casually described what they wanted to achieve as ‘a bunch of composers sitting around banging on cans.’ Wolfe has collaborated with theater artist Anna Deveare Smith, choreographer Susan Marshall, designers Jeff Sugg and Jim Findlay, and director François Girard, among others. Her music has been heard at venues throughout the world, including Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Olympic Arts Festival, LG Arts Center (South Korea), SettembreMusica (Italy), and Theatre de la Ville (France), and has been recorded on Cantaloupe Music, Teldec, Point/Universal, Sony Classical, and Argo/Decca.
Wolfe’s recently announced upcoming work is an evening-length piece for orchestra and women’s choir. The piece will draw on oral history and archival materials to recreate the world of the women who worked in New York City’s garment industry in the early 20th century. Scenic projection by Jeff Sugg will complement the text and music. The piece is a commission by the New York Philharmonic to be presented in its 2018-19 season. In the lead-up to the premiere, Wolfe will lead workshops at the New York Philharmonic’s commissioning partners: Cal Performances at the University of California, Berkeley; the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Campus-wide discussions about history, music, and creative writing will be an important part of Wolfe’s writing process.
Wolfe’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning evening-length oratorio, Anthracite Fields for chorus and instruments, draws on oral histories, interviews, speeches, and more. ‘My aim with Anthracite Fields,’ Wolfe wrote, ‘is to honor the people who persevered and endured in the Pennsylvania Anthracite coal region during a time when the industry fueled the nation, and to reveal a bit about who we are as American workers.’ Anthracite Fields, premiered and commissioned by the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, is written in five movements, each based on a source text describing a way the coal industry affected life in America. The recording of Anthracite Fields, with the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, was nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Last fall the piece was performed in the Pennsylvania coal country which inspired it. The Los Angeles Times wrote that Anthracite Fields ‘captures not only the sadness of hard lives lost…but also of the sweetness and passion of a way of daily life now also lost. The music compels without overstatement. This is a major, profound work.’
Wolfe’s look at Appalachian working culture, Steel Hammer, takes on the many faces of the John Henry legend, using mountain dulcimer, banjo, harmonica, bones, clogging, and body percussion. ‘Steel Hammer is inspired by my love for the legends and music of Appalachia,’ Wolfe explains. ‘The text is culled from the over 200 versions of the John Henry ballad. The various versions, based on hearsay, recollection and tall tales, explore the subject of human vs. machine in this quintessential American legend. Many of the facts are unclear — some say he’s from West Virginia, some say he’s from South Carolina, some say he’s from New Jersey — but regardless of the details, John Henry, wielding a steel hammer, faces the onslaught of the industrial age as his superhuman strength is challenged in a contest to out-dig an engine.’ Steel Hammer was recorded by the Norwegian vocal ensemble Trio Mediaeval and the Bang on a Can All-Stars for Cantaloupe Music in 2014. It recently toured in an expanded theatrical form with director Anne Bogart and her SITI Company. The Boston Globe called Steel Hammer ‘[an] epic explosion and reconstruction of the folk ballad.’
Wolfe has written a major body of work. Her string quartets, as described by The New Yorker, ‘combine the violent forward drive of rock music with an aura of minimalist serenity [using] the four instruments as a big guitar, whipping psychedelic states of mind into frenzied and ecstatic climaxes.’ Wolfe’s Cruel Sister for string orchestra, inspired by a traditional English ballad, was commissioned by the Munich Chamber Orchestra and received its U.S. premiere at the Spoleto Festival. Fuel for string orchestra is a collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison, commissioned by Ensemble Resonanz. Wolfe’s body concerto riSE and fLY, commissioned by the BBC and performed last season by the Cincinnati Symphony, features percussionist Colin Currie playing rapid-fire body slaps and street percussion. The influence of pop culture can be heard in many of Wolfe’s works, including Lick and Believing for the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Lick, based on fragments of funk, has become a manifesto for the new generation of pop-influenced composers. The raucous my lips from speaking for six pianos was inspired by the opening riff of the Aretha Franklin tune Think. Wolfe’s Dark Full Ride is an obsessive and relentless exploration of the drum set, beginning with an extended hi-hat spotlight. In LAD, Wolfe creates a kaleidoscopic landscape for nine bagpipes. Wolfe recently created the city-wide spectacle Travel Music with architects Diller Scofidio+Renfro in Bordeaux, France, filling the streets of the old city with 100 musicians walking and riding in pedicabs.
Date & Venue
Sunday, November 6, 2016, 4pm
Pre-concert talk at 3pm.
Saint Anthony Park United Church of Christ
The pre-concert talk at 3pm will include a conversation between Schubert Club Director Barry Kempton and Music in the Park Series founder Julie Himmelstrup reviewing some of highlights of her 36-year leadership of the Music in the Park Series.
Concert length is estimated to be 2 hours with one intermission.
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Julia Wolfe: Splendid Hopes
Schubert: Quintet in C
Program subject to change. Concerts are estimated to be two hours in length with one intermission.