PUBLIQuartet had an incredibly exciting and dynamic 2017-18 season and we are thrilled with the progress we've made developing programs in education outreach, performing, collaborating, and commissioning new works for string quartet. Several of these programs culminated and others have only just begun.
We write this post from Avaloch Farm in Boscawen, NH, where we are working on next season's repertoire and the works we will record on our album in August! The album is called "Freedom and Faith" and explores themes of spirituality, awakening, and inspiration by composers Jessica Meyer, Shelley Washington, Hildegard von Bingen, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, and more. In true PQ style, we will delve into a sound world uniquely our own. You'll hear jazz, bluegrass, tango, Gregorian chant...even whistles! Check out more about the album on our Indiegogo page!
Last year was the culmination of our third round of PUBLIQ Access, a program that showcases and promotes the works of emerging composers. This third round upgraded our previous format of call-for-scores to a full commission based program. We workshopped with the three composers we commissioned twice: once at Avaloch Music Farm Institute in New Hampshire, and once in NYC. Steven Snowden, one of the three composers chosen, received his world premier of Silent Sentinels, on the 100th anniversary of the Night of Terror, a historic moment in the suffragette movement. The premiere took place in what was originally Occoquan Workhouse, now known as the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center in Virginia. The multi-media work includes video of Harry Truman, live audio-processing, and images of the actual suffragettes who were arrested on that fateful night. Jessica Meyer, another commission, received her world premiere of her funky soul-spiked, Get into the Now, a piece surrounding ideas of inspiration and resilience at Sixth and I Synagogue in Washington DC through Washington Performing Arts. And Xian Wang received her premiere of her haunting Nevermore for quartet and live video processing received her premiere in May in Areté, Brooklyn.
PUBLIQ Access 4.0 “Our Environment” is already underway with our freshly announced winners, Vahid Jahandari, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, and Gemma Peacocke, and a scheduled premiere date on Earth Day, April 22, 2019 at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, as part of our upcoming National Sawdust Residency. Our first of three NS concerts on November 7, 2018 will feature the works of Andy Akiho, including his Ligneous Suite for string quartet and marimba, which we premiered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2017 with percussionist Ian Rosenbaum. Our second concert will take place on February 10, 2019 and will be based on the music from our upcoming album Freedom and Faith, which features works by all-female composers past to present and explores ideas of spirituality, resilience, and inspiration.
In addition to curating shows at National Sawdust, we've also taken on collaborations with fellow musicians and mentors, giving the US premiere of Kate Moore's Bushranger Psychodrama with percussionist Doug Perry and vocalists Iarla ó Lionáird at Symphony Space in the Fall of 2017 and the world premiere of Sam Suggs' bass concerto Ursa for string quartet and vibraphone at the Sheen Center for the Arts in March 2018. We also worked closely with John Corigliano on his Farewell quartet, and performed this sprawling work at National Sawdust for his 80th Birthday Celebration concert and at the Barns at Wolf Trap in April 2018.
Education is also a major part of our mission because our approach to teaching includes improvisation and composition, which frees up our students to think outside the box and make music for themselves. In September 2017, we visited the Bronxville High School as part of a multi-visit composition residency culminating in a performance of the student's works for the school district in January 2018. While on tour, we led improv and composition workshops of middle school, high school, and college students in Colorado and Wyoming in October 2017. In February 2018 we hosted a chamber music masterclass at the National Opera Center produced by the Associated Chamber Music Players, which reached thousands of people via their live-stream service. We've also visited public schools doing masterclasses and improv workshops in Ossining through Friends of Music and Washington DC as a special collaboration with improvising violinist Chelsey Green through Washington Performing Arts. This coming September we are visiting Alfred University in Alfred, NY where we will be working with students on improvisation, chamber music technique, performance practice.
As we find ourselves on our last day at the wonderful Avaloch Farm Music Institute, a blissful artist residency in Boscawen, NH, we come away with several group compositions that fall into our project MIND THE GAP. We create MTGs by merging styles of multiple composers and periods after much experimentation and deliberation, usually focusing on a social issue. Our MTGs have been performed in all of our concerts from our tour out west to our return visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the Young Patrons Gala in April 2018.
Thank you to New Music USA for inviting us into the Impact Fund cohort! Your support enabled us to take our ensemble to the next level and achieve our dream projects! We look forward to commissioning new music through PUBLIQ Access, visiting more schools for improvisation and composition workshops, and continuing to develop our musical voice through thoughtfully curated concerts, composition, and improvisation.