A Multimedia Adventure with composers Elizabeth Brown and Frances White!

Photo by Lothar Osterburg from his multi-media art installation “Babel”

Momenta Quartet’s next New York City concert is approaching! Join us for “And so the heavens turned,” a multi-media project with composers Elizabeth Brown and Frances Whiteon the Interpretations series at Roulette:


509 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Admission: $20 general admission; $15 for students, seniors and Roulette members 

Book tickets HERE

“And so the heavens turned”

The Momenta Quartet 
Elizabeth Brown: shakuhachi
Thomas Buckner: narrator


Elizabeth Brown:
Dialect (2019) for solo shakuhachi
Shakuhachi: Elizabeth Brown

Just Visible in the Distance (2013) for string quartet 
(Written for Momenta)

Babel (2019) for string quartet and pre-recorded soundscape with a multi-media art installation by Lothar Osterburg 
(Written for Momenta)

Frances White:
The book of evening (2019) for string quartet and shakuhachi
WORLD PREMIERE (Written for Momenta)
Shakuhachi: Elizabeth Brown

And so the heavens turned (2015) for quartet and narrator
Text by James Pritchett
Narrator: Thomas Buckner

Here is a short preview trailer of Babel

This project was made possible through the generous sponsorship of the Sparkplug Foundation, and is a sponsored project, “And so the heavens turned” supported by New Music USA. To follow the project as it unfolds, visit our project page:


The Momenta Quartet joins forces with composers Elizabeth Brown and Frances White in a multimedia evening fusing Western contemporary music with Japanese aesthetics, literary references, and a video/sculpture installation by artist Lothar Osterburg.

Brown and White’s respective sound worlds embrace a sense of beauty and romanticism—inspired by the notion that music, storytelling, and language are intertwined, their combination leading to the most powerful artistic impact. Brown’s quartet Just Visible in the Distance, dedicated to Momenta, draws its title, inspiration, and form from W.G. Sebald’s book The Rings of Saturn. The piece, inspired by Sebald’s continuous narrative arc, consists of intuitively-assembled small movements, each flowing into the next.

White’s And so the heavens turned for quartet and narrator, a collaboration with writer James Pritchett, contemplates the mystery of storytelling itself. Pritchett’s text, inspired by the 11th-century Persian epic Shahnameh, is read before the music and during its closing, evoking at times the anguish and passion of the epic’s mythic lovers, at others a questioning stillness.

Past mythology comes into full play in the world premiere of Babel, a multimedia collaboration between Brown and Osterburg using music, video, electronics, and sculpture to celebrate NYC as a living organism. Momenta is spaced around Osterburg’s monumental interpretation of Babel, covered with pages from discarded books in a multitude of languages. Brown’s collected recordings of Emma Lazarus’s verse from the Statue of Liberty, read in English in a multitude of accents, form the soundscape’s center. In this positive version of Babel, nothing is destroyed; instead, it is cumulative, with its architectural history visible, its constant influx of immigrants the source of its life and beauty.

Composer Elizabeth Brown will also double as shakuhachi master on this concert! The spiritual and sonic qualities of the shakuhachi tradition, with its delicate timbre and poetic expression lending itself to musical storytelling, bring two world premieres to this concert. Brown’s Dialect for solo shakuhachi uses repeating, morphing phrases to trace the evolution of a unique language. White’s The book of evening for quartet and shakuhachi is drawn from Mark Strand’s beautiful poem Moon, picturing the moon appearing between clouds. The music reflects this as a sonic image, the shakuhachi surrounded by the strings’ musical “clouds.”  Strand’s moon creates a path to “those places where what you had wished for happens.” The music evokes longing for that place, vanishing as the book of evening closes.