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An American Journey with the Cassatt Quartet
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This project is funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.




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+ About the Performance
This program was recorded 02/25/2010 at Symphony Space.

The ever-adventurous Cassatt Quartet offers Pulitzer prize-winner Steve Reich's groundbreaking work, Different Trains (1988), which, using recorded interviews with Reich's governess, a Pullman porter and Holocaust survivors, juxtaposes memories of Reich's cross-country train trips as a child with those of Jews traversing Europe during WWII. The program also features two world premieres: John Duffy's We Want Mark Twain, with guest narrator Isaiah Sheffer; and Andy Teirstein's Restless Nation, inspired by a year traveling the country in a camper, living in the national parks.

 

PROGRAM

 

Andy Teirstein 

Restless Nation (world premiere)

I. Restless—My eyes were hungry

II. Rustic—Our Classroom is the Trail

III. A Little Rushed—Learning Breaks

IV. Andante —The Door of No Return

V. Hymn—Stories of Rocks and Rivers

VI. Vivace—The Way Home


John Duffy

We Want Mark Twain (world premiere)

I. Twain on Tour, ‘Round the World

II. Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher

III. Huck Finn and Jim


Mr. Sheffer

 

—Intermission—


Steve Reich

Different Trains

I. America- Before the War

II. Europe- During the War

III. After the War

+ About the Artists

The New York City based Cassatt String Quartet has performed throughout North America, Europe, and the Far East, with prestigious appearances at New York's Alice Tully Hall and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall; the Tanglewood Music Theater; the Kennedy Center and Library of Congress in Washington, DC; the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris; and Maeda Hall in Tokyo. Established in 1985, and named for the renowned American impressionist painter Mary Cassatt, the Cassatt made its YouTube debut featuring Daniel S. Godfrey's "Romanza" and released two Naxos CDs of quartets by Andy Tierstien and Dan Welcher, including "Cassatt," inspired by paintings of Mary Cassatt. Their annual educational residency, Cassatt In The Basin! in Odessa, Texas culminates at the Texas Music Educators Association conference in San Antonio, where they have been selected to present a chamber music clinic based on their Odessa residency. World premieres include music by composers Hitomi Kaneko for Music from Japan's 35th Anniversary, Andy Teirstein, Judith Shatin, Laura Kaminsky, and Samuel Zyman with pianist Sonia Rubinsky. The Cassatt has recently appeared at the American Academy in Rome, Cornell and Syracuse Universities, and offered mini-residencies at the Centro National de las Artes in Mexico City, the University of Texas at Austin, and Vassar College. They are in residence at the Seal Bay Festival of Contemporary American Chamber Music in Maine, New York's Hartwick College Summer Music Festival, and have held residencies at Princeton, Yale, and Syracuse University among others.

Isaiah Sheffer is a founder and the artistic director of Symphony Space, as well as host and director of Selected Shorts live at Symphony Space, on tour and on public radio nationwide. He is also a co-creator of The Thalia Follies Political Cabaret. 

Composer Andy Teirstein's work is inspired by the rich and diverse folk roots of modern culture. His music has been described by The New York Times and The Village Voice as "magical," "ingenious," and "superbly crafted," and has been heard at Carnegie Hall, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Joyce Theater, Dance Theater Workshop, Lincoln Center, and abroad. Mr. Teirstein's eclectic background-which also includes acting and writing-has led him to successful collaborations across a variety of genres. Mr. Teirstein studied with Henry Brant and Leonard Bernstein, and he has continued expanding his musical background by learning fiddle tunes in the pubs of Ireland, performing with a Mexican circus, and journeying to Romania and Bulgaria to collect traditional music. Mr. Teirstein has received numerous awards from organizations including Meet the Composer, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, The New York Foundation for the Arts, and ASCAP.

John Duffy, considered "one of the great heroes of American music," has composed more than 300 works for symphony, orchestra, opera, theater, television, and film. He and his music have received many awards in recognition of his excellent contributions to music: two Emmys, an ASCAP award for special recognition and achievement in film and television music, a New York State Governor's Arts Award, and the (New York City) Mayor's Award of Honor for Arts and Culture. As founder, president, and director of Meet the Composer, an organization dedicated to the creation, performance and recording of music by American composers, he has initiated countless programs to advance American music and to aid American composers. Currently, he heads the John Duffy Composers Institute at the Virginia Arts Festival dedicated to the inspiration, creation, and performance of music theater works by living composers and librettists.

Steve Reich was recently called "our greatest living composer" (The New York Times), "America's greatest living composer" (The Village Voice), "...the most original musical thinker of our time" (The New Yorker), and "...among the great composers of the century" (The New York Times). From his early taped speech pieces It's Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966) to his and video artist Beryl Korot's digital video opera Three Tales (2002), Mr. Reich's path has embraced not only aspects of Western Classical music, but the structures, harmonies, and rhythms of non-Western and American vernacular music, particularly jazz. In April 2009 Steve Reich was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his composition Double Sextet. Steve Reich's music has been performed by major orchestras and ensembles around the world, including the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, the New York Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta, the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, the Ensemble Modern conducted by Bradley Lubman, the Ensemble Intercontemporain conducted by David Robertson, the London Sinfonietta conducted by Markus Stenz and Martyn Brabbins, the Theater of Voices conducted by Paul Hillier, the Schoenberg Ensemble conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw, the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Robert Spano, the Saint Louis Symphony conducted by Leonard Slatkin, the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Neal Stulberg, the BBC Symphony conducted by Peter Eötvös, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.

+ About the Music

Commissioned by the Cassatt Quartet, Andy Teirstein's Restless Nation is inspired by the composer's family home-schooling expedition of 2008, during his sabbatical leave from teaching at New York University. He picked up a pop-up camper on ebay and travelled across the country with his wife, the painter Olga Hiiva, his daughter Zoya (13) and son Max (8). Along the way, there were three side-trips: to Senegal, Mexico, and Northern Ireland. There were several overarching objectives to the expedition. The children were able to observe the geological history, biosphere and natural resources of each area they visited, and their journals note the customs, food, music, and dances of the people they met.

"Restless Nation" is a musical evocation of the children's perspective. Photography by the composer provides a visual reflection on the journey, interspersed with subtitles, such as Max's comment while hiking through Bryce Canyon, "My eyes were
hungry...and I didn't know it." For a more in-depth view of the expedition, please visit Zoya and Max's travel web log at www.travelblog.com/Learning-As-We-Go. This piece is dedicated to Zoe and Max.

Steve Reich's groundbreaking work, Different Trains (1988), which, using recorded interviews with Reich's governess, a Pullman porter and Holocaust survivors, juxtaposes memories of Mr. Reich's cross-country train trips as a child with those of Jews traversing Europe during WWII. Different Trains marked a new compositional method, rooted in It's Gonna Rain and Come Out, in which speech recordings generate the musical material for musical instruments. The New York Times hailed Different Trains as "a work of such astonishing originality that breakthrough seems the only possible description....possesses an absolutely harrowing emotional impact." In 1990, Mr. Reich received a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Composition for Different Trains as recorded by the Kronos Quartet on the Nonesuch label.

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