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Scott Wollschleger's "White Wall" on PSNY

In the middle of winter, it's only natural for the mind to focus on the sharpness of the cold, the whiteness of the snow, and the stillness of sound. Scott Wollschleger's second string quartet, titled "White Wall", is, in the composer's words, "music written at the end of the world." Exploring the idea of "white noise", Wollschleger recasts the string quartet as a lone child, breathing and sighing to itself as the world fades to white. An organic whole, the ensemble becomes still in time, emitting patterns of sounds that are constantly under erasure. Wollschleger's play with duration, rhythm, and timing creates an evanescent temporality to his work, disappearing the moment it comes into sound. This echoes his other works, such as Blue Inscription for solo piano, and Brontal No. 3 for large ensemble.

Commissioned by the Mivos Quartet and premiered by them at the DiMenna Center in New York, the quartet was also performed at the 2014 International Music Institute at Darmstadt, Germany. Check out a beautifully recorded video below.  

Hannah Lash & Ted Hearne at the Guggenheim

The Guggenheim Musem's Works and Process series, which pairs artists working across media and presents collaborations in the making, will present the culminating performance of Broken Story (wherein there is no ecstasy), a collaborative work between composers Hannah Lash, Ted Hearne, Caroline Shaw, and David Lang, and choreographer Pam Tanowitz. Performed by four dancers and the FLUX Quartet, this collaborative work consists of four new works for string quartet, specifically composed and molded to the space of the Guggenheim's Peter B. Lewis Theater

Hannah Lash's contribution to this work is also available as a standalone string quartet, entitled Pulse-Space. Hearne's quartet will be available from PSNY; in the meantime, be sure to check out his ambitious opera project The Source, which, after its celebrated premiere at BAM, is now entering the recording studio. 

Fred Lerdahl’s "Give and Take" at Musica nova Helsinki

This week, the Musica nova Helsinki Festival hosts Fred Lerdahl as one of three composers in residence. The biannual festival is Finland’s largest contemporary music festival and one of the leading events of its kind in Europe. Give and Take is the third work Lerdahl has written for the festival’s artistic director, Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen.

Karttunen gave the piece its world premiere on February 9th at the Helsinki Music Center’s Camerata Hall with his frequent collaborator Ernst Kovacic on violin. This year’s edition of Musica nova Helsinki also features performances of Lerdahl’s Imbrications, Spirals, and Time After Time, all of which are available on PSNY.

With Give and Take, which is dedicated to Karttunen, Lerdahl pays tribute to the festival’s theme of “Dialogues.” Lerdahl elaborates:

The title Give and Take evokes the responsive and varied interaction of the violin and cello throughout the piece. They are in an intense conversation, sometimes echoing and elaborating one another, other times each going its own way in its own tempo, still other times one breaking off with a change in direction that is soon followed by the other.

Lerdahl’s two previous works for Kartunnen, Arches and There and Back Again, both premiered in 2010. Lerdahl wrote There and Back Again, a short piece for solo cello, to commemorate the cellist’s 50th birthday. Arches, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, was the result of a Fromm Foundation commission. The works premiered just four days apart, with Kartunnen traveling to New York from his 50th birthday concert in Amsterdam to give the premiere of Arches at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. Listen to a sample of There and Back Again below:

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