In a rare performance of Tan Dun‘s Ghost Opera for string quartet and pipa with water, metal, stones, and paper, new music veterans of the Momenta Quartet recall the haunting magic of Chinese peasant shamans. Zhou Yi, one of America’s leading pipa virtuosi, contributes her immense talent to the performance.
The composer describes this work as a reflection on human spirituality, which is too often buried in the bombardment of urban culture and the rapid advances of technology. It is a cross-temporal, cross-cultural, and cross-media dialogue that touches on the past, present, future, and the eternal; employs elements from Chinese, Tibetan, English, and American cultures; and combines performance traditions of the European classical concert, Chinese shadow puppet theater, visual art installations, folk music, dramatic theater, and shamanistic ritual.
To open the show, intrepid composer, improviser, and guitarist Gyan Riley pairs with Bang on A Can All-Star percussionist David Cossin (also a long-time collaborator of Tan Dun) for a set of structured improvisations based on motives from Tan Dun’s rich score, highlighting and providing context for the great nuances present in the work.
ABOUT MOMENTA QUARTET
The Momenta Quartet’s mission is to bring the best of contemporary music to audiences in New York City and around the world. Their vision of new music embraces composers from all cultures and from diverse musical backgrounds, including jazz and avant-garde improvisation. Momenta devotes the vast majority of its programming to living composers, many of whom are emerging or underrepresented in the New York new music scene. They give multiple performances of works on innovative concert programs that may include 20th/21st century masterworks and selected great music from the past. Praised by the New York Times for its “focused, fluid performance” and by Sequenza 21 for its “fire, fantasy and absolute musical commitment,” the Momenta Quartet has premiered over 50 works in the past eight years and has collaborated with over 80 living composers. Now in its ninth year in residence at Temple University, Momenta has also performed and lectured at Cornell, Columbia, Yeshiva and Hawaii Pacific Universities; Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore and Haverford Colleges; The Mannes School of Music and the Boston Conservatory; among others. The quartet has performed in England, Singapore and Indonesia and has received grants from the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Meet the Composer, the Aaron Copland Fund, the Brooklyn Arts Council and the New York State Council on the Arts.
ABOUT ZHOU YI
Praised for her “breathtaking” meticulous technique and expressiveness by the Washington Post, pipa virtuoso Zhou Yi began studying music at the age of five. After graduating from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Zhou Yi moved to New York. As a concert soloist, Zhou Yi’s performances include Tan Dun’s Concerto for Pipa and String Orchestra at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig Germany; Young People’s Concert with the New York Philharmonic; Bun-Ching Lam’s Pipa Concerto “Song of the Pipa”; and Sisters of the Grassland with the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra (Ohio). Zhou Yi collaborated with Damon Albarn (Gorillaz/Blur) in Spoleto Festival’s premiere show, Monkey: Journey to the West. Zhou Yi’s recent performances include: featured pipa soloist of Tan Dun’s Ma in 2014 NYU’s Vision & Voices Series; produced a show that was the first of its kind to meld eastern music sensibilities with western jazz to form an original hybrid of music; recorded the music for David Henry Hwang’s two off-broadway productions, The Dance and the Railroad and Kung Fu (The Bruce Lee Story). She also worked on Around the World in 80 Days and Carnigie Hall’s Musical Explorer program. Zhou Yi is a co-founder of the Ba Ban Chinese Music Society of New York. Besides pipa, she plays the guqin, liuqin, ruan, sanxian, and piano.
ABOUT GYAN RILEY
Gyan Riley won his first guitar in a raffle when he was 12 years old. After learning all of the songs in his cassette collection by ear, he began his life-long adventure in music, becoming the first full-scholarship graduate guitar student at the San Francisco Conservatory. He then spent 15 years living in the Bay Area, touring as a classical guitar soloist and in various ensembles, including performances with Zakir Hussain, Michael Manring, Mike Marshall, Dawn Upshaw, the San Francisco Symphony, the Falla Guitar Trio, the World Guitar Ensemble and his father, the composer/pianist/vocalist Terry Riley. Along the way, he completed various compositional projects, including those commissioned by the Carnegie Hall Corporation, the American Composers Forum, and the New York Guitar Festival. Gyan’s diverse work now focuses on his own compositions, improvisation, and contemporary classical repertoire. Recent performance highlights include Carnegie Hall, London’s Barbican Theatre, the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival, the Big Ears Festival, Moogfest, and soloing with the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra at Kimmel Center. Over the years, Riley has performed throughout Europe, Canada, Latin America and the US, both as a soloist and in various ensembles. Having recently relocated to New York City, Gyan can be frequently heard performing at such local venues as Le Poisson Rouge and Barbès, either in solo form or with various collaborators. Current touring ensemble projects include the duo Probosci with Timba Harris (violin), a trio with Iva Bittová (voice, violin) and Evan Ziporyn (clarinets) called Eviyan, and an electric guitar quartet called Dither. Gyan has four solo CD titles and several other ensemble/collaborative appearances, most recently recording for the Tzadik Records label in New York.
ABOUT DAVID COSSIN
David Cossin was born and raised in Queens, New York, and studied classical percussion at the Manhattan School of Music. His interest in classical percussion, drum set, non-western hand drumming, composition, and improvisation has led to performances across a broad spectrum of musical and artistic forms to incorporate new media with percussion. David is a regular member of the Bang On A Can All-Stars and has recorded and performed internationally with composers and ensembles including Steve Reich and Musicians, Philip Glass, Yo-Yo Ma, Meredith Monk, Tan Dun, Cecil Taylor, Talujon Percussion Quartet, and Real Quiet. Numerous theater projects include collaborations with Blue Man Group, Mabou Mines, and director Peter Sellars. David was featured as the percussion soloist in Tan Dun’s Grammy and Oscar winning score to Ang Lee’s film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Most recently, David is happy to have performed with Sting on his latest world tour, Symphonicity. David has performed as a soloist with orchestras throughout the world including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestra Radio France, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Sao Paulo State Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Gothenburg Symphony, Hong Kong Symphony, and the Singapore Symphony. David ventures into other art forms include sonic installations, which have been presented in New York, Italy and Germany. David is also an active composer and has invented several new instruments, which expand the limits of traditional percussion. David is the curator for the Sound Res Festival, an experimental music festival in southern Italy and also teaches percussion at Queens College in New York City.
ABOUT JOSHUE OTT
New York-based visualist and software designer Joshue Ott creates cinematic visual improvisations, performed live and projected in large scale. Working from hand-drawn forms manipulated in real-time with superDraw, a software instrument of his own design, Joshue composes evolving images that reside somewhere between minimalism, psychedelia, and Cagean chance, delivered with an inescapably human touch. Supple yet digital, ephemeral but instantly memorable, Joshue renders sound into vision, yielding an immersive multi-sensory experience that is at once immediate and synergistic, a unique visual narrative born in the moment. Performing with musicians from all genres between classical and avant-electronica, Joshue’s visuals have been featured at Unsound festival NY, Biennial of the Americas, Mutek, Communikey, Plateaux festival (Poland), GAFFTA, Le Cube gallery (Paris), the Playgrounds Audiovisual Art Festival (Netherlands), and the 2006 Ars Electronica Animation Festival. He has performed with the American Composer’s Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; with Son Lux at MASS MoCA; with Gina Gibney Dance at the Baryshnikov Arts Center; and frequently at venues throughout New York City, including Le Poisson Rouge, Roulette, and Galapagos. Joshue is also the visual mastermind behind the hit iOS apps Thicket, snowDrift, Falling Stars, and Pitch Painter. Joshue was recently commissioned by Intel to create a game called Tangled Curiosity that explored new ways of interacting with user’s social media feeds.
ABOUT EAR HEART MUSIC
“… a feisty contemporary-classical concert series” –The New York Times
A showcase of highly talented and adventurous performers, composers, and collaborative artists, Ear Heart Music is a modern chamber music series for modern ears. “Embracing a landscape where cross-genre collaboration is not the exception or a special occasion but the rule and standard operating procedure, this contemporary chamber music series, organized by the flutist Amelia Lukas, keeps up its high ambitions with a season at Roulette full of new and recent compositions” (The New York Times).
Ear Heart Music “has become a staple in the New York new music soundscape” (Time Out New York). Its thoughtfully designed programs highlighting recent masterworks stimulate creative thought and instill new avenues of perspective in the listener. The consistent level of intelligent and inspiring music-making resonates in the mind and body. Shows include electronic processing, performance art, visual art, film, and dance, providing deeper context for the music. Unique artist pairings, diverse programming, and the integral incorporation of new work all contribute to Ear Heart Music playing a major role in reshaping the chamber music landscape for the 21st century.
Since September 2009, Ear Heart Music has produced over 75 unique concerts with over 60 world premieres. The 2013-14 season features the debut of the Ear Heart Music Ensemble, star vocalists Lucy Shelton and Hai-Ting Chinn, two cutting edge dance companies, three star string quartets, two chamber operas, six world premieres, and numerous multimedia extravaganzas.