Chamber Metal in May!

The Momenta Quartet would like to invite you to 2 outbursts of “Chamber Metal” this month:

THIS Sunday, May 19, 4p
Look and Listen Festival
Pratt Manhattan Gallery
144 West 14th Street, 2nd Floor (between 6th and 7th Avenues)
New York, NY
Tickets: $15 in advance or at the door, $35 All-Festival pass

Momenta will be joined by violist Jessica Meyer and cellist Sean Katsuyama for the US premiere of ECHOPRAXIA (2006) by Cypriot avant-garde composer Evis Sammoutis. The program also features such New York new music luminaries as flutist Claire Chase and the Sybarite 5.

Thursday, May 30, 7pm
The Americas Society
680 Park Ave, NYC (at E. 68th St.)
Admission: $20 at the door; Free for Americas Society members

The “chamber metal” component of the program will be the official WORLD PREMIERE of the visceral (and complex!) quartet Uma Faca Só Lâmina (A KNIFE ALL BLADE,1998) by self-professed “Brazilian Madman” Arthur Kampela. More genteel world premieres by Ileana Pérez Velázquez (Cuba) and Manena Contreras (Venezuela) will also be featured.

So, what is CHAMBER METAL?

We must give credit where credit is due. The term was brought to our attention (and probably coined by) the composer and avant-jazz drummer Sean Noonan, whose music we will perform again next fall. I define “chamber metal” as any music that combines the intensity of heavy metal with the intricacies of classical contemporary chamber music (or the intensity of classical contemporary chamber music with the intricacies of metal…)

Just to give you a point of reference: I would apply this category to about 90% of the pieces I have performed with one of my other favorite groups, the Argento Chamber Ensemble. Of these, perhaps some of you have may have heard the great “spectral” compositions by Georg Friedrich Haas or Gérard Grisey.

Quintessential “chamber metal” aspects of both Evis Sammoutis’ and Arthur Kampela’s music are: DRAMA, rhythmic drive, extended techniques which evoke percussion and electronica, and a rich variety of timbre ranging from the limits of auditory perception to an almost violent distortion of the sound.

And violence…I feel in sync with nature as Momenta obsessively rehearses this somewhat obsessive music in the wunderschönen month of May. As I enjoy the warm breeze, the gentle pastel tones of cherry blossoms and young foliage, I remember that spring can also be a violent season. My most remarkable experience of this was the awe-inspiring sound of the ice breaking on Lake Michigan in late March many years ago. Springtime is not all bunny rabbits and ducklings. And if it were, well – how did they get there?  Would we run away in terror if we could hear the sound of blossoms exploding from out of their buds? Something to think about as you potentially bask in the not-so-dulcet strains of Momenta this Sunday and/or on Thursday, May 30th.

And for those of you who prefer the softer side of Momenta – we will be playing some Haydn, Britten and Puccini in Dobbs Ferry, NY:

Monday, May 20, 1pm
Dobbs Ferry Woman’s Club
54 Clinton Ave.
Dobbs Ferry, NY
Tickets: $15 at door, reception to follow

Here in New York City, we will also ring in the summer season with some sweeter music at the Chelsea Music Festival.

Best wishes and enjoy the rest of the spring (if you still can),


Photo by John Gurrin