Concert Tickets Are $25 At The Door   •   Students & Active Duty Military Can Attend For Free!

Orion String Quartet

Since its inception, the Orion Quartet has been consistently praised for the extraordinary musical integrity it brings to performances, offering diverse programs that juxtapose classic works of the standard quartet literature with masterworks by twentieth and twenty-first century composers. The Quartet remains on the cutting edge of programming with wide-ranging commissions from composers Chick Corea, Brett Dean, David Del Tredici, Alexander Goehr, Thierry Lancino, John Harbison, Leon Kirchner, Marc Neikrug, Lowell Liebermann, Peter Lieberson and Wynton Marsalis, and enjoys a creative partnership with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. The members of the Orion String Quartet—violinists Daniel Phillips and Todd Phillips (brothers who share the first violin chair equally), violist Steven Tenenbom and cellist Timothy Eddy—have worked closely with such legendary figures as Pablo Casals, Sir András Schiff, Rudolf Serkin, Isaac Stern, Pinchas Zukerman, Peter Serkin, members of TASHI and the Beaux Arts Trio, as well as the Budapest, Végh, Galimir and Guarneri String Quartets. The Orions serve as Artist Members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Quartet-in-Residence at New York’s Mannes School of Music, where they are featured in a four-concert series each year.

The 2016-17 season also brings the Orion Quartet’s return to the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for programs of Haydn and Bach, and of Puccini, Hugo Wolf and Giovanni Rota, which CMS LC also presents at Hugh Hodgson Concert Hall in Athens, Georgia. Soprano Tony Arnold joins the Orion at Washington, DC’s Library of Congress for Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2 and Brett Dean’s Quartet No. 2 “And once I played Ophelia.” New School Concerts presents the Orion twice, first in collaboration with the Dover Quartet in Mendelssohn’s Octet and Mozart’s Viola Quintet K. 516, and then in Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ. The Quartet is also being presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society at Benjamin Franklin Hall, and by the Chamber Music Society of Westchester. The Orion concludes the season with their annual return to the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, where they have become distinguished for commissions of unusual works by major composers.

The ensemble celebrated its 25th anniversary in the 2012-2013 season with a collaboration involving the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company at New York City’s Joyce Theater, for a special two-week project which featured music by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Ravel and Schubert, plus a specially commissioned Beethoven arrangement. WQXR’s The Greene Space presented a live-broadcast of the collaboration, including a performance and a conversation with the Quartet and Bill T. Jones.

Heard often on National Public Radio’s Performance Today, the Orion has also appeared on PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center, A&E’s Breakfast with the Arts, and three times on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America. Additionally, the Quartet was photographed with Drew Barrymore by Annie Leibovitz for the April 2005 issue of Vogue.

Formed in 1987, the Quartet chose its name from the Orion constellation as a metaphor for the unique personality each musician brings to the group in its collective pursuit of the highest musical ideals.

“A noisy standing ovation is nothing rare… but silence can be an even better indicator of a powerful performance. These musicians manage to seduce a rustling, coughing, whispering audience into utterly silent awe.”

The New York Times

“The group’s playing and interpretation was consistently beguiling and technically impeccable.”

The Los Angeles Times

Members:

Daniel Phillips (violin)
Todd Phillips (violin)
Steven Tenenbom (viola)
Timothy Eddy (cello)

Program

CURRIER
New Work for String Quartet

BEETHOVEN
String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 130

-Intermission-

DVORAK
String Quartet No. 14 in A-flat Major, Op. 105

Venue

Laurel Heights United Methodist Church
Address: 227 West Woodlawn
Time: 3:15 PM

Of cakes, biscuits and – oh, yes – focus

Have you ever tried to make a really magnificent cake from scratch?  Well, have you?  And how did it turn out?  That bad, yeah.  Some years ago, I, master of the oven, regent of icing, genius of the cake pans, decided I could make a Black Forest Cake.  For company.  If you’ve never enjoyed this masterpiece, a Black Forest Cake is composed of layers and layers of wonderfully rich cake interspersed with fillings of chocolate and nuts and fruit and pure magic and the whole thing’s topped with this chocolate icing that becomes a shiny, beautiful glaze.  There’s just one small problem:  it helps to know what you’re doing.  Four plus hours into this project, I had gone through most of the pots and bowls in my kitchen, there was chocolate everywhere and I was no closer to the imagined masterpiece than I had been when weighing the ingredients (oh yes, did I mention that this was a European recipe and the ingredients were given by weight?).  Sorry, guys, it’s chocolate ice cream over Oreos for dessert.  To quote a celebrity:  “So sad.”

But telling the story of my disastrous cake brought to mind the memory of my sainted mother – she with a degree in mathematics, minor in Greek; she who could make the world’s best roast beef and fried chicken – she whose biscuits would be coveted by the NHL as totally indestructible.  So maybe it’s genetic (not the math and Greek part).  My mother and I were not destined to bake wonderful things.  Or maybe it’s just a matter of focus.

…I had gone through most of the pots and bowls in my kitchen, there was chocolate everywhere and I was no closer to the imagined masterpiece than I had been when weighing the ingredients.

I have become convinced over the years of listening to and thoroughly enjoying musical compositions that are truly works of genius, that the secret of that genius, much like the secret of producing something as magical as a Black Forest Cake or a perfect biscuit, has something to do with the ability to focus.  Consider, for example:  Beethoven became deaf but could still compose music.  How?  His mind was such that he could not only remember sounds, but he could concentrate, focus on what he wanted to write.  I’m certain that the ability to do this involved enormous effort and powers of memory.

As you know, a great genius of our present day has just died. Stephen Hawking is another example of my thesis.  In his lifetime, he progressively lost the ability to express his genius by usual means, and yet he wrote books explaining some of the most complex concepts of the universe.  He couldn’t test concepts with his peers in the usual back and forth of creative conversation; he had a means of communication, but it was limited.  How much of what he thought was lost?  How much of what Beethoven heard in his mind was lost?  How much genius resides, untapped and unspoken, in the brains of geniuses?

Focus is the power to concentrate, to bring the mental powers we all possess to a greater or lesser degree, to the problem of musical composition or the power to intellectualize the workings of the cosmos.  Focus is also the ability that allows us mere mortals to appreciate the genius of music, the genius of beauty, the genius of astrophysics.

Focus is also the ability that allows us mere mortals to appreciate the genius of music, the genius of beauty, the genius of astrophysics.

And how many Black Forest cakes are out there, just waiting for me to bring my sterling intelligence and focus to bear on the task of creation?

– E Doyle

American Brass Quintet Outreach Event

American Brass Quintet Outreach at Sacred Heart Chapel on March 5, 2018

On March 5, 2018 we heard an inspired Outreach Concert by the American Brass Quintet in the stunning Sacred Heart Chapel.  The title ‘chapel’ is a misnomer as the building is a remarkably beautiful and rather large English Gothic church which took 28 years to build.  It boasts an incredible, at least 4 to 5 seconds, reverberation of sound.  The chapel is a great source of pride to the people in the San Antonio community at large and to the West Side neighborhood in particular.  It was a fitting spot in which to hear resplendent and impeccably performed brass music.  The members of ABQ relished being able to perform in this space.

The American Brass Quintet played selections taken from their program performed on Sunday, including the commissioned work the river remembers by San Antonio composer James Scott Balentine.  San Antonio Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla gave a beautifully dramatic reading of her poem, This River Here, which provided the inspiration for Dr. Balentine’s workThere was an interesting panel discussion among composer, poet, and performers regarding the creative process in presenting, experiencing, and creating a work of art.  Over the weekend the work was played three times.  Each time the depth, flow and mystery of the San Antonio River was expanded.

This concert was a fitting and memorable tribute to our San Antonio’s Tricentennial.

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

Review: The Brass Masters

You could have spent last Sunday glued to the television and watching the Oscar hoopla – or you could have enjoyed some real talent at the American Brass Quintet concert.  You could have paid homage to the little gold-plated statue at the Oscars – or you could have enjoyed some real, honest-to-goodness brass, learned something about canons (no, not the kind that fire cannon balls) and listened to music and poetry that go right to the heart.  You could have.

Just in case someone stole your pickup truck with your favorite hound in it, or Aunt Mattie over in Floresville was stuck in a tree, or your flu had come back so bad you couldn’t raise your head from the pillow – just in case, you poor soul, you missed this concert, I’ll be kind and tell you what you missed:

First there’s just the sound, the Temple-filling, soul-filling sound of five brass instruments.  Think about this:  can you imagine what honey or molten gold would sound like if they could sound?  Well, that’s what these five instruments in concert sounded like.  The tones and the harmonies blended and then flowed separately, then blended again.  You would have heard centuries’ worth of songs, music that would have been familiar to Queen Elizabeth I or King James I; music that would have been heard in old St. Petersburg; music that celebrates the common man and the joy of the everyday in the 20th century.

Can you imagine what honey or molten gold would sound like if they could sound?  Well, that’s what these five instruments in concert sounded like.

And there was a special treat:  music composed around a breathtakingly poignant poem by Carmen Tafolla, San Antonio’s own poet laureate.  The poem spoke ever so simply and ever so eloquently of the river, our river and, as recited by the author, it would have just broken your heart.  The music, composed by James Balentine, was equally simple and eloquent.  Performed as it was by this particular group, the music spun out the story of the poem in a universal language of pure beauty.  By the way, it was also a world premiere of the work and was commissioned for San Antonio’s 300th birthday. Take that, Hollywood!

And then the canons of the 16th century.  Imagine the great castle halls and the cathedrals with this glorious music resounding in the vast spaces.  Imagine the pleasure of following the musical lines through their twists and turns, counterpoints and harmonies, understanding the inherent structure where there seems to be none.  How do they do that?  I think it’s magic, pure and simple.  Finally, the composition by American composer Eric Ewazen, a work dedicated to the American Brass Quintet on the occasion of their 30th anniversary, demonstrated the artistry and complete versatility of these five musicians.  In three movements, the music went from languid to playful to joyous to sonorous.  Pick your adverb; it was all of that and more.

Michael Powell, the ABQ trombonist, described brass players as “plumbers,” since their artistry depends on pipes and tubes and conduits, but I assure you that if the ABQ are plumbers, then I am in line for a Pulitzer.  Just sayin’. No, these gentlemen, all teachers of the next generation of premiere artists, are truly brass masters.  Don’t say I didn’t tell you…

In three movements, the music went from languid to playful to joyous to sonorous. Pick your adverb; it was all of that and more.

And don’t forget the last concert of this exceptional, sparkling season:  the Orion String Quartet, a group that has become the standard of excellence in the world of chamber music, will perform April 15th at Laurel Heights United Methodist Church, 227 W. Woodlawn (corner Belknap).  Buy Aunt Mattie a ladder and be there!

– E Doyle

 

American Brass Quintet

The American Brass Quintet is internationally recognized as one of the premier chamber music ensembles of our time, celebrated for peerless leadership in the brass world. As 2013 recipient of Chamber Music America’s highest honor, the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award for significant and lasting contributions to the field, ABQ’s rich history includes performances in Asia, Australia, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East and all fifty of the United States; a discography of nearly sixty recordings; and the premieres of over one hundred fifty contemporary brass works.

ABQ commissions by Robert Beaser, William Bolcom, Elliott Carter, Eric Ewazen, Anthony Plog, Huang Ruo, David Sampson, Gunther Schuller, William Schuman, Joan Tower, and Charles Whittenberg, among many others, are considered significant contributions to contemporary chamber music and the foundation of the modern brass quintet repertoire. The ABQ’s Emerging Composer Commissioning program has brought forth brass quintets by Gordon Beeferman, Jay Greenberg, Trevor Gureckis, and Shafer Mahoney. Among the quintet’s recordings are eleven CDs for Summit Records since 1992 including the ABQ’s 50th release State of the Art—The ABQ at 50 featuring recent works written for them.

Committed to the promotion of brass chamber music through education, the American Brass Quintet has been in residence at The Juilliard School since 1987 and the Aspen Music Festival since 1970. Since 2000 the ABQ has offered its expertise in chamber music performance and training with a program of mini-residencies as part of its regular touring. Designed to offer young groups and individuals an intense chamber music experience over several days, ABQ mini-residencies have been embraced by schools and communities throughout the United States and a dozen foreign countries.

The New York Times recently wrote that “among North American brass ensembles none is more venerable than the American Brass Quintet,” while Newsweek has hailed the ensemble as “the high priests of brass” and American Record Guide has called the ABQ “of all the brass quintets, the most distinguished.” Through its acclaimed performances, diverse programming, commissioning, extensive discography and educational mission, the American Brass Quintet has created a legacy unparalleled in the brass field.

To commemorate SA300 – the San Antonio Tricentennial, the San Antonio Chamber Music Society, as a SA300 Community Partner, has commissioned beloved San Antonio composer James Balentine to write a special work for the American Brass Quintet. Mr. Balentine puts it this way: ‘I was inspired by a poem by San Antonio’s first Poet Laureate, Carmen Tafolla – the poem is “This River Here“, and the title of the piece is “the river remembers“, a partial quote from the introduction to the poem, which Carmen graciously allowed me to use as the title for this piece. The poem is a wonderful reflection on the history and flavor of San Antonio.’ This special commission is a gift from the San Antonio Chamber Music Society to our city on its 300th birthday, and will be given it’s world premiere in San Antonio by the American Brass Quintet. We will also be honored by the presence of Ms. Tafolla, who will be reading her poem at this concert.

“The quintet’s clear sound and precise articulation let the music speak with big-time personality.”

Harvey Steiman, The Aspen Times

“The high priests of brass.”

Newsweek

Members:

Kevin Cobb (trumpet)
Louis Hanzlik (trumpet)
Eric Reed (horn)
Michael Powell (trombone)
John D. Rojak (bass trombone)

Program

Consort Music of Elizabethan and Jacobean England
(edited by Louis Hanzlik)

Suite from 19th Century Russia
(ed. Kevin Cobb)

LASSER
Common Heroes, Uncommon Land

-Intermission-

BALENTINE
the river remembers
Special Commission for the San Antonio Tricentennial
(World Premier)

Canons of the 16th Century
(ed. Ray Mase)

EWAZEN
Frost Fire

Venue

Temple Beth-El
Address: 211 Belknap Place
Time: 3:15 PM

Pin It on Pinterest