Alvin Singleton 75th Birthday Concert and more March Madness!

The Interpretations series is celebrating the great American composer Alvin Singleton at 75! I hope you all can join the Momenta Quartet, pianist Joseph Kubera, cellist Meaghan Burke and bassist James Ilgenfritz this Thursday for this very special occasion:

Thursday, March 10, 8pm
Alvin Singleton at 75!
509 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
Admission: $20 general, $15: students/seniors/Roulette members

Argoru IV for Solo Viola (1978): USA Premiere
-Stephanie Griffin, viola
Be Natural (1974)
-Stephanie Griffin, viola; Meaghan Burke, cello; James Ilgenfritz, double bass
Argoru I (1970)
In My Own Skin (2010)
Baked in the Cake (2011)
-Joseph Kubera, piano
Somehow We Can (1994)
Secret Desire to be Black (1988)
-Momenta Quartet

In the words of Kyle Gann:

Singleton’s music is soulful, with an understated simplicity that I particularly prize. Despite the studied economy of his means and the set character of his images, the music is never cold … nor abstract. It glows with warmth, it hovers in the air, it paces itself with a glacial but palpably intuitive momentum. It refuses to pander to either academicism or populism, but is so honest and self-assured that listeners flock to it anyway.

This Thursday’s concert will provide a rare retrospective of Alvin Singleton’s work. Born on December 28, 1940 in Brooklyn, NY, Alvin attended New York University and Yale. As a Fulbright Scholar, he studied at Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy. After living and working in Europe for fourteen years, Singleton returned to the United States to become Composer-in-Residence with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. His music is widely performed, and he is the recipient of many awards.  Singleton’s music is published by Schott Music Corporation, and is recorded on the Albany Records, Elektra/Nonesuch, Tzadik, Telarc, First Edition and Innova labels. In 2014, Singleton was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

I will open this unique concert with a viola solo that Alvin wrote in Darmstadt in 1978, and has not been performed since! Clearly Kyle Gann never heard it – how would he have? Although it does not quite fit in the “understated simplicity” category, it is still indeed quite soulful, beneath its extreme virtuosity and daunting technical demands. On to something completely different, we will follow Argoru IV for solo viola with one of Alvin’s early works exploring the use of improvisation: a graphic score for viola, cello and bass. Following legendary new music pianist Joseph Kubera’s performance of three piano pieces spanning four decades of Alvin’s musical career, Momenta will perform two touching and poetic quartets from the late 80s and early 90s.
Meanwhile, Momenta will be returning to Haverford College on Saturday, March 19 at 8pm for a rare double bill of Charles Ives’ monumental String Quartet no. 2 and Tan Dun’s fully theatrical Ghost Opera with pipa virtuoso Zhou Yi. If you know anyone in the Haverford/Philadelphia area, please spread the word.  More Information

Almost immediately upon our return to New York City we will be giving our annual concert at The Center for Jewish History, under the auspices of Yeshiva University:

Monday, March 21, 7:30pm
Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th St.
New York, NY 10011

We’ll be giving two world premieres!:
String Quartet no. 4 by David Glaser (all of his quartets were written for us!) and String Quartet no. 2 by Jeffrey NicholsThe program will also feature a very special guest artist – my former teacher, Samuel Rhodes in Mendelssohn’s String Quintet and a solo viola piece that Milton Babbitt wrote especially for him, “Play it Again Sam” in honor of Babbitt’s 100th birthday.

So, as you see – we are keeping busy! As if that were not enough, please save the dates:

March 30, 7pm at the Italian Academy, Columbia University: an all-Boccherini concert, of all things, with the illustrious cellist and Michael’s former teacher Marcy Rosen!

And if you get tired of hearing the acoustically perfect string quartet medium, there will be an opportunity to hear seven acoustically imperfect violas playing in perfect harmony on March 31 at 8pm at The Ukrainian Restaurant Space (140 Second Avenue at East 9 Street). Tickets are $20 at the door.

This concert will feature the world premiere of my Poem from Exile (2015) for seven violas alongside new works featuring up to ten violas by Daniel Goode, Philip Corner, Gayle Young, Dean Rosenthal and Lev Zhurbin. Not a Momenta event, as such, but definitely a curiosity!

I hope you are all enjoying the onset of Springtime and hope to see you at one of these events soon!

All the best,

Stephanie Griffin