Amaryllis and Belladonna are two new, modular, and interlocking projects by Brooklyn-based guitarist, composer and MacArthur fellow Mary Halvorson, both to be released on her debut collaboration with Nonesuch Records in May 2022.
Belladonna is a set of compositions written specifically for Halvorson on guitar plus The Mivos Quartet: Olivia De Prato (violin), Maya Bennardo (violin), Victor Lowrie Tafoya (viola), and Tyler J. Borden (cello). This is Halvorson’s first time writing for String Quartet. Six through-composed compositions for Mivos spin Halvorson’s compositional voice in a fresh context, and the music is augmented by Halvorson’s guitar throughout, adding elements of chance and improvisation to the music.
Amaryllis is a sextet which filters Halvorson’s compositional explorations of melody, harmony and counterpoint through the lens of six master improvisers, arranged in a way that allows for the music to unfold differently every time. The brand-new sextet features Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), Jacob Garchik (trombone), Patricia Brennan (vibraphone), Mary Halvorson (guitar), Nick Dunston (bass) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums). The Mivos Quartet joins for half of the music, forming a unique tentet and making this Halvorson’s largest project to date. The music bridges many musical influences and genres from jazz, experimental, new music, and beyond.
Adam O’Farrill (trumpet)
Jacob Garchik (trombone)
Patricia Brennan (vibraphone)
Mary Halvorson (guitar)
Nick Dunston (bass)
and Tomas Fujiwara (drums)
plus The Mivos Quartet:
Olivia De Prato (violin)
Maya Bennardo (violin)
Victor Lowrie Tafoya (viola)
Tyler J. Borden (cello)
Guitarist, composer and MacArthur Fellow Mary Halvorson has been called “NYC’s least-predictable improviser” (Howard Mandel, City Arts), “the most forward-thinking guitarist working right now” (Lars Gotrich, NPR.org) and “one of today’s most formidable bandleaders” (Francis Davis, Village Voice). Ms. Halvorson is best known for her trio, quintet, and octet; the latter is featured on her 2016 album Away With You. Her latest project as a bandleader is a sextet called Code Girl, for which she wrote music and lyrics, with Amirtha Kidambi (voice), Maria Grand (saxophone and voice), Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), Michael Formanek (bass) & Tomas Fujiwara (drums). Collaborative projects include the longstanding collective ensemble Thumbscrew (also with Formanek and Fujiwara), and a chamber-jazz duo with violist Jessica Pavone. Ms. Halvorson has also performed in bands led by Anthony Braxton, Tim Berne, Taylor Ho Bynum, Trevor Dunn, Tomas Fujiwara, Ingrid Laubrock, Jason Moran, Joe Morris, Tom Rainey, Tomeka Reid, Marc Ribot, Ches Smith and John Zorn, among others.
Brooklyn-bred Adam O’Farrill, 26, has emerged as a “rising star as a player and composer” (PopMatters) and “a blazing young trumpet talent” (The New York Times). Beginning his career in his teenage years performing with his father, the pianist and composer Arturo O’Farrill, Adam has gone on to work with a wide range of artists such as Mary Halvorson, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Mulatu Astatke, Brasstracks, Kambui Olujimi, Samora Pinderhughes, Sarah Kay, and Anna Webber. His most recent album, 2018’s El Maquech (Biophilia Records) received critical acclaim, including the Wall Street Journal, who wrote that “the band presents rambunctious music that is equally rustic and modern,” as well as receiving Best of the Year mentions from The Boston Globe and the NPR Jazz Critics Poll. In both 2019 and 2021, O’Farrill won the Downbeat Critics Poll for Rising Star Trumpeter. Adam has been recognized and awarded for his composing as well, receiving commissions and grants from The Jazz Gallery, The Shifting Foundation, Metropolis Ensemble, and ASCAP.
Jacob Garchik, multi-instrumentalist and composer, was born in San Francisco and has lived in New York since 1994. At home in a wide variety of styles and musical roles, he is a vital part of the Downtown and Brooklyn scene, playing trombone in groups ranging from jazz to contemporary classical to Balkan brass bands. He has released 5 albums as a leader including The Heavens: the Atheist Gospel Trombone Album. In 2018 he won the “Rising Star – Trombone” category in the Downbeat Jazz Critic’s Poll. Since 2006 Jacob has contributed nearly 100 arrangements and transcriptions for Kronos Quartet of music from all over the world. In 2017 he composed the score for “The Green Fog” (2017), a found-footage remake of Vertigo, directed by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, and Galen Johnson.
Patricia Brennan “has recently started to make her presence known on the New York avant-garde, working with such prominent bandleaders as Matt Mitchell and Michael Formanek.” observed The New York Times. Patricia is a member of Grammy-nominated John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus, Matt Mitchell’s Phalanx Ambassadors, the Webber/Morris Big Band, and Tomas Fujiwara’s 7 Poets Trio. She has also collaborated with pianist Vijay Iyer as a member of Blind Spot and Open City. Patricia has appeared on several recordings, including an ECM recording with Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus called “The Distance”. Patricia released her solo debut album “Maquishti” in January 2021 under the label Valley of Search. Patricia Brennan is a BlueHaus Mallets artist and currently teaches at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and at the Jazz Studies program at NYU Steinhardt.
Nick Dunston is an acoustic and electroacoustic composer, improviser, and bassist. An “indispensable player on the New York avant-garde” (New York Times) he’s performed with artists such as Marc Ribot, Ches Smith, Imani Uzuri, Ingrid Laubrock, Tyshawn Sorey, Anna Webber, and Amirtha Kidambi. In addition to 3 critically acclaimed albums released under his name, as a composer he has also been commissioned by artists such as Bang on a Can, Ex-Aequo, Johnny Gandelsman, T R O M P O, Joanna Mattrey, and Clifton Joey Guidry III. In 2019 he was named a Van Lier Fellow at Roulette.
Tomas Fujiwara is a Brooklyn-based drummer, composer, and bandleader. Described as “a ubiquitous presence in the New York scene…an artist whose urbane writing is equal to his impressively nuanced drumming” (Point of Departure), Tomas is an active player in some of the most exciting music of the current generation, with his bands Triple Double, 7 Poets Trio, and Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up; the collective trio Thumbscrew (with Mary Halvorson and Michael Formanek); and a diversity of creative work with Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Mary Halvorson, Matana Roberts, Joe Morris, Taylor Ho Bynum, Nicole Mitchell, Ben Goldberg, Tomeka Reid, Amir ElSaffar, Benoit Delbecq, and many others. “Drummer Tomas Fujiwara works with rhythm as a pliable substance, solid but ever-shifting. His style is forward-driving but rarely blunt or aggressive, and never random. He has a way of spreading out the center of a pulse while setting up a rigorous scaffolding of restraint…A conception of the drum set as a full-canvas instrument, almost orchestral in its scope.” (New York Times).
The Mivos Quartet, “one of America’s most daring and ferocious new-music ensembles” (The Chicago Reader), is devoted to performing works of contemporary composers and presenting new music to diverse audiences. Since the quartet’s beginning in 2008 they have performed and closely collaborated with an ever-expanding group of international composers representing a wide aesthetic range of contemporary composition. Recent engagements during the 2020/21 season have included performances and residencies at the Festival for New American Music, Asphalt Festival, the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, and Boston University premiering newly commissioned works by Michaela Catranis and Benjamin Sabey.
Mivos is invested in commissioning, premiering, and growing the repertoire of new music for string quartet, striving for rich collaborations with composers over extended periods of time. Recently, Mivos has collaborated on new works with Michaela Catranis (Fondation Royaumont), Chikako Morishita (rainy days festival), George Lewis (ECLAT Festival Commission), Sam Pluta (Lucerne Festival Commission), Eric Wubbels (CMA Commission), Kate Soper, Scott Wollschleger, Patrick Higgins (Zs), and poet/musician Saul Williams. For this work and the continuation of it, the quartet was the recipient of the 2019 Dwight and Ursula Mamlok Prize for Interpreters of Contemporary Music.
Beyond expanding the string quartet repertoire, Mivos is committed to working with guest artists exploring multi-media projects and performing improvised music. Mivos has worked closely with artists such as Cécile McLorin Salvant (Ogresse), Ambrose Akinmusire (Origami Harvest), Ned Rothenberg, Timucin Sahin, and Nate Wooley. In the upcoming season Mivos will begin a new project working with guitarist, composer, and 2019 MacArthur Fellow, Mary Halvorson.
Mivos has performed to critical acclaim on prestigious series such as Noon to Midnight (USA), Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), Jazz at Lincoln Center (USA), the New York Phil Biennial (USA), Wien Modern (Austria), the Darmstadt Internationalen Ferienkurse für Neue Musik (Germany), rainy days festival (Luxembourg), Asphalt Festival (Germany), HellHOT! New Music Festival (Hong Kong), Shanghai New Music Week (Shanghai, China), Música de Agora na Bahia (Brazil), Aldeburgh Music (UK), and Lo Spririto della musica di Venezia (Italy).
In addition to their performance season, Mivos is committed to the education of young composers and string players, and is regularly the quartet in residence at the Creative Musicians Retreat at the Walden School (USA) and the Valencia International Performance Academy and Festival (Spain). The quartet has conducted workshops at Columbia University, Harvard University, Boston University, UC Berkeley, US San Diego, Duke University, Royal Northern College of Music (UK), Shanghai Conservatory (China), University Malaya (Malaysia), Yong Siew Toh Conservatory (Singapore), the Hong Kong Art Center, and MIAM University in Istanbul (Turkey) among others. Along with their work at educational institutions, Mivos grants the Mivos/Kanter String Quartet Composition Prize, a yearly award to support the work of emerging and mid-career composers residing in the USA, and the I-Creation prize, a competition for composers of Chinese descent worldwide.
The members of Mivos are violinists Olivia De Prato and Maya Bennardo, violist Victor Lowrie Tafoya, and cellist Tyler J. Borden. Mivos operates as a non-profit organization dedicated to performing, commissioning, and collaborating on music being written today.