The Music of Lucier, McIntosh & Mochizuki

Thu   Mar   30   2023 - 6:00 PM St. John's Cathedral

The two-piano, two-percussion quartet Yarn/Wire present a program of three works for this uncommon but magical combination of forces.

Alvin Lucier’s “Oases” was written for Yarn/Wire in 2016, and premiered at Pioneer Works, in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s a spacial piece, with the players moving at a distance, away from the stage. “When I came home from Europe in 1962,” Lucier tells Yarn/Wire in an interview, “I was dissatisfied with the music I heard there.” And so began his long arc of slow-to-unfold, resonant work – this case, making use of the snare drum in its most sensitive, least percussive way.

An avid climber, composer Andrew McIntosh collected field recordings including the winds and birds in the San Gabriel Mountains near the Little Jimmy backpackers camp in the Angeles National Forest. “At the time the forest was under several feet of snow, just beginning to melt and emerge from winter conditions. I wasn’t intending to write a piece about climate change or wildfire, but I had already been planning to use those recordings in this piece in late August of 2020 when the Bobcat Fire burned the trees captured in these recordings.” As Erica Scheinberg wrote in her liner notes for the Yarn/Wire recording of “Little Jimmy,” “This autobiographical and climatological context inevitably shapes the meaning of the field recordings McIntosh used in two of the six movements of Little Jimmy. The work itself assumes a kind of archival responsibility: the sounds of birds and trees captured on McIntosh’s recordings are preserved for posterity as long as the work continues to be performed.”

In Misato Mochizuki’s “Le monde des ronds et des carrés,” commissioned by Yarn/Wire in 2015, the piece, in the composer’s “attempts to install, in space and in music, geometric combinations arising from the shapes mentioned in the title – circles and squares – in exploring the relationships possible among the musicians, whether opposed to one another (square) or united (circle).” “I wrote the piece,” she adds, “having in mind the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II and asking myself what leads people to slaughter one another.” The composer, whose work opens with the percussionists walking around the pianos with handheld instruments, has an element of theatricality – guided, certainly by how Yarn/Wire in its personnel embodies old relationships of cohesion and conflict, antagonism and reciprocity.

Yarn/Wire is a New York-based percussion and piano quartet (Sae Hashimoto and Russell Greenberg, percussion; Laura Barger and Julia Den Boer, pianos) dedicated to the promotion of creative, experimental new music. The ensemble is admired globally for the energy and care it brings to performances of today’s most adventurous music, and New York Classical Review states that “Yarn/Wire may well be the most important new music ensemble on the classical scene today.” Founded in 2005, the ensemble seeks to expand the representation of composers so that it might begin to better reflect our communities and their creative potential.

Yarn/Wire has performed internationally at festivals including the Lincoln Center, Edinburgh International, Rainy Days (Luxembourg), Ultima (Norway), Festival 20/21 (Belgium), Contemplus (Prague), and Wien Modern (Austria) Festivals, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Hall, Dublin SoundLab, Monday Evening Concerts (Los Angeles), Brooklyn Academy of Music, and New York’s Miller Theatre. Their numerous commissions include works from composers such as Annea Lockwood, Enno Poppe, Michael Gordon, George Lewis, Ann Cleare, Catherine Lamb, Tyshawn Sorey, Peter Evans, Alex Mincek, Thomas Meadowcroft, Misato Mochizuki, Sam Pluta, Tyondai Braxton, Kate Soper, and Øyvind Torvund. The ensemble enjoys collaborations with genre-bending artists such as Tristan Perich, Ben Vida, Mark Fell, Sufjan Stevens, and Pete Swanson. Through the Yarn/Wire International Institute and Festival, plus other educational residencies and outreach programs, the quartet works to promote not only the present but also the future of new music in the United States. Their ongoing commissioning series, Yarn/Wire/Currents, serves as an incubator for new experimental music.

Yarn/Wire has recorded for the WERGO, Kairos, New Amsterdam, Northern Spy, Shelter Press, Distributed Objects, Black Truffle, Populist, and Carrier record labels in addition to maintaining their own imprint.

Knoxville, TN · USA

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