The Anzû Quartet performs French composer Olivier Messiaen’s (1908-1992) Quatuor pour la fin du temps, the towering masterpiece of the 20th century famously composed and premiered in the Stalag VIIA Prisoner of War Camp in 1941. The quartet, inspired by the Book of Revelation, birdsong, and Messiaen’s experience of synesthesia, reflects the juxtaposing themes of immeasurable destruction, religious salvation, hope, and devastation. The Anzû Quartet is dedicated to performing this work as well as to cultivating and commissioning a new repertoire to complement and expand upon this instrumentation.
Ken Thomson, clarinet
Olivia De Prato, violin
Ashley Bathgate, cello
Karl Larson, piano
Please note: this performance will be in person only and will not be live streamed.
Formed in 2020, the Anzû Quartet is an ensemble dedicated to the music of our time and the recent canon. A collaboration between internationally renowned performers of contemporary music, this new quartet pays homage to Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps by actively commissioning and performing new works for this iconic instrumentation alongside Messiaen’s original masterpiece. Anzû Quartet’s first performance season in 2021 finds the ensemble in New York, Berlin, and Croatia, along with a digital premiere at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance.
The members of Anzû are veterans of New York City’s vital contemporary music community and have frequently collaborated with one another across a wide range of musical endeavors and acclaimed international performances. Olivia De Prato (violin), Ashley Bathgate (cello), Ken Thomson (clarinet) and Karl Larson (piano) have been lauded by critics and musicians worldwide, and have been instrumental in helping form and cement the work of important NY-based chamber groups such as the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Mivos Quartet, Ensemble Signal, and Bearthoven. They have premiered works by some of the most important composers of our time at some of the most prestigious venues in the world.
The name Anzû refers to a massive, fire and water breathing bird found in Babylonian and Sumerian mythology. In these ancient texts, Anzû is linked to death and destruction as well as birth and creation, reflecting the juxtaposing themes of calamity and salvation often expressed through birdsong in Messiaen’s quartet. www.anzuquartet.com
Ken Thomson, a staple of New York City’s contemporary music and jazz communities, is widely regarded for his ability to blend a rich variety of influences and styles into his own musical language while maintaining a voice unmistakably his own. Active as a freelancer internationally, he is also member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, one of the world’s preeminent new music ensembles. He has a growing catalog of music composed for ensembles of different sizes, and has released multiple records both as a bandleader combining composed and improvised music (Sextet, Slow/Fast), and of his chamber music works (Thaw, 2013 (JACK Quartet)) and Restless, 2016 (Bathgate/Larson)).
Internationally recognized as a soloist as well as a chamber musician, Austro-Italian violinist Olivia De Prato has been described as “flamboyant…. convincing” (The New York Times) and an “enchanting violinist” (Messaggero Veneto, Italy). She has established herself as a passionate performer of contemporary and improvised music in New York City, breaking boundaries of the traditional violin repertoire, while regularly performing in Europe, South America, China and across the United States. Olivia is a member of New York contemporary music ensembles Ensemble Signal and Victoire, and is the co-founder and first violinist of the Mivos String Quartet.
American cellist Ashley Bathgate has been described as an “eloquent new music interpreter”(New York Times) and “a glorious cellist”(The Washington Post) who combines “bittersweet lyricism along with ferocious chops”(New York Magazine). Her “impish ferocity”, “rich tone” and “imaginative phrasing” (New York Times) have made her one of the most sought after performers of her time. For ten years Bathgate was a member of the acclaimed sextet Bang on a Can All-Stars. She is also a member of the chamber music group HOWL, TwoSense with pianist Lisa Moore, and Bonjour, a low-strung, percussive quintet. (ashleybathgate.com)
Brooklyn-based pianist Karl Larson is a specialist in the music of our time. Consistently presenting adventurous programs. Karl has premiered many solo piano and chamber pieces, including works by Michael Gordon, Sarah Hennies, Chris Cerrone, Scott Wollschleger, and David Lang. Recent performances and projects include appearances at MASS MoCA, Roulette, and the Teatro General San Martín in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as well as the release of Dark Days, an album featuring the solo piano music of Scott Wollschleger. (www.karllarsonpiano.com)