The Quartet’s extra-musical collaborations have drawn attention in recent months. Presented at universities in the East and Midwest, Lyric in Time of War combines the music of Bach, Shostakovich, Bartók, Sirota, Beethoven, and Barber with readings by Tom Sleigh and Phil Klay. Sleigh, a distinguished poet, dramatist and essayist whose honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, directs Hunter College’s MFA program in creative writing. He reads from his recent collection Station Zed. Klay, a former Marine officer who served a 13-month tour in Iraq, reads from his first published collection, Redeployment, which won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics’ Circle Leonard Award, among others. Another presentation reaching audiences whose appetites comprise both music and literature is Suite on The Enchantress of Florence, based on Salman Rushdie’s novel. This program includes Rushdie reading from that and from earlier works (such as The Ground Beneath Her Feet) interspersed with the suite composed by Paul Cantelon for this event, as well as the author’s favorites from the standard quartet canon. In each of these offerings, the readings and music reflect each other’s depth and power, leaving audiences with senses enhanced by both essential languages. — Daniel Avshalomov
This season the Quartet will première American Pilgrimage, composed by Robert Sirota for the ASQ. According to the composer, he conceived American Pilgrimage as a companion piece to his first string quartet, Triptych, written in 2002 as an impassioned response to the 9/11 tragedy. “American Pilgrimage,” he says, “is a celebration of the beauty, pathos, and variety of both our geography and culture.” It is laid out in four movements:
- Morning: Waldo County, Maine
- Mid-day: Mother Emanuel Church, Charleston, South Carolina
- Sunset: High Desert, Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Evening: Manhattan
In October 2016, the Quartet will travel to Guanajuato, Mexico, to perform early and middle Beethoven string quartets at the Festival Internacional Cervantino. The festival this year commemorates the 400th anniversary of the death of Cervantes with an ambitious program of events, as may be seen in the video below (in Spanish).