Momenta’s Season Finale at The Stone!

The Momenta Quartet and the League ISCM present:
“Music by Improvisers”
The Stone at The New School
Glass Box Theater
55 W. 13th Street, NY, NY 10011

Admission:  $20, tickets available at the door

With special guest vocalist M. Lamar



Stephanie Griffin: “BIO Rhythms II” for string quintet (2018) WORLD PREMIERE
with James Ilgenfritz, double bass

Anders Nilsson: “Utterly” for string quartet (2016) WORLD PREMIERE

Traditional Negro Spiritual, arranged by M. Lamar and James Ilgenfritz:
“Oh Graveyard” from Funeral Doom Spirituals (2016)
with M. Lamar, voice and piano

Adam Rudolph: “Syntactic Adventures” – In Memoriam Yusef Lateef (2016)

James Ilgenfritz: String Quartet No. 1 “Unbroken” for Pauline Oliveros, Connie Crothers, and Robert Ashley (2016)

Program Notes

 Photo by John Gurrin

Described as “enthralling” by the Los Angeles Times, Stephanie Griffin is an active classical, contemporary and avant-jazz violist and composer. She recently received the 2017 Emerging Composer Fellowship from the Jerome Foundation and the 2016 New York Foundation for the Arts composition fellowship. She performs regularly as a soloist and with the Momenta Quartet, Continuum, and the Argento Chamber Ensemble, was a 2014 Fellow at Music Omi, and serves on the faculty of Brooklyn and Hunter Colleges. She holds a doctorate from the Juilliard School where she studied with Samuel Rhodes and has recorded for Tzadik, Innova and Albany Records.

About “BIO Rhythms II,” Stephanie writes:

BIO Rhythms II was originally conceived as a string quintet arrangement of an earlier piece I wrote for the composers’ collective, The Brooklyn Infinity Orchestra (BIO) – hence the name. As I worked on it, however, it evolved into a completely different animal. All that remains of the original piece is a drastically re-voiced and orchestrated “head” or “A section,” the rondo-like alternation between the “head” and more ethereal and introspective music, and a new-and-improved version of a bass line which had been a point of departure for a wild group improvisation at the end of the original piece, and has now engendered a “fugal finale” of sorts, in miniature. Whereas the original BIO Rhythms contained equal parts notation and improvisation, BIO Rhythms II is fully notated, except for a short improvisational duo for bass and viola and a more substantial solo bass improvisation around the middle of the piece. It’s been a joy to work with James Ilgenfritz and I am getting very excited about the prospect of turning BIO Rhythms II into the finale of a new multi-movement work for string quartet with an improvising bassist. My work on this piece was made possible through an Emerging Composer Fellowship from The Jerome Foundation.

Photo by Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET

Anders Nilsson is a Swedish New York-based guitarist, composer, improviser. He plays electric guitars, 11-string alto guitar and baĝlama. His output spans a wide musical spectrum ranging from solo shows (“Night Guitar”), Anders Nilsson Group (a rhythm-heavy band in NYC),  a trio with saxophonist Michael Attias, and bassist Ken Filiano, Anders Nilsson’s AORTA (a jazz-rock type band in Sweden). He is also a band member in several groups playing jazz or improvised music. After receiving a BA from Malmö Academy of Music and having worked as a musician in Sweden for a few years he moved to New York in 2000 and got his MA from CCNY. He has performed and/or recorded or toured internationally with many artists associated with the blues/jazz/experimental paradigms such as Kalabalik (with Raoul Björkenheim and Gerald Cleaver), Paquito D’Rivera, William Parker, Elliot Sharp, Eugene Chadbourne, Fay Victor Ensemble, poets John Sinclair and Bonnie Barnett, art-metal band Angelblood, and Persian vocalist Mohsen Namjoo. Always welcoming of interdisciplinary interaction, he has collaborated with Butoh artist Akira Kasai, theatre director Doris Mirescu and video artist Arrien Zinghini. Nilsson’s work as a composer includes music for short films, dance performances, string quartet, theatre plays, as well as a constantly growing book of a hundred compositions including brief to epic works for solo guitar, jazz, to large experimental ensemble works. Many of these works have been released on several acclaimed albums.

About “Utterly,” Anders writes:
“Utterly” is cast in three movements and lasts about 25 minutes. Underlying everything is the marvel at, and range of the nature of vocal expression, as limited as my understanding of this enormous reality is. For example – articulation: faint, present, slurred, articulate, beckoning, stating, uncontrolled natural sounds etc. The title came to mind as this piece was forming and written around the arrival and early life of my son Hugo, who is growing up bilingual from day one (now manifesting quite consciously). Innocent utterances growing into inevitable habits and characteristics of communication, yet belonging to the same template of our natural noises all along. Music is by nature intrinsically “multi-lingual”, in the sense that changing expression and character on a dime is so organic to the essence and process of music, inprovised or not, as well as the way we live. Language and thought is always slower than reflexes and utterances. Anyway…

Photo by Wil Adamy

M. Lamar is a composer and vocalist who works across opera, metal, performance, video, sculpture and installation to craft sprawling narratives of historical traumas, contemporary injustices and radical becomings. M. Lamar regularly presents work in venues as diverse as DIY spaces Like Brooklyn’s the Glove or Amsterdam’s Vrankrijk to institutions like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMa PS1 and National Sawdust. Mr. Lamar is a recipient of a 2016 Jerome Fund Grant for New Music (JFund), a 2016 NYFA Fellowship in Music and Sound.

“Oh Graveyard” is a traditional negro spiritual, in a new interpretation for voice and piano (with some poetic license with the text) by M. Lamar, with string arrangements by James Ilgenfritz.

Photo by Kadar Levante

For the past four decades composer and percussionist Adam Rudolph has performed extensively throughout North & South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. He has released over 30 recordings under his own name, featuring his compositions and percussion work. Rudolph composes for his ensembles Moving Pictures Octet, Hu Vibrational, and Go: Organic Orchestra, a 30-piece group for which he has developed an original music notation and conducting system. He has taught and conducted hundreds of musicians worldwide in his Go: Organic Orchestra concept.

Known as one the early innovators combining “World Music” with avant-garde jazz, Rudolph has performed extensively with Don Cherry, Sam Rivers, Pharaoh Sanders, Muhal Richard Abrams, Shankar, Wadada Leo Smith, Philip Glass, Jon Hassel Omar Sosa, Fred Anderson, and Yusef Lateef.  In 2015 Rudolph was artist in residence at the Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Illinois and received the prestigious Danish International Visiting Artist award from the Danish Government. Rudolph received the “New Works” commissioning grants from Chamber Music America in 2016, 2009 and 2007. Rudolph has also received grants and compositional commissions from The Rockefeller Foundation/Meet the Composer (1992), Mary Flagler Cary Trust, the NEA, Arts International, the Durfee Foundation, Phaedrus Foundation and American Composers Forum.

About “Syntactic Adventures,” Adam writes:

That which I have wanted to express at any given time has suggested different creative processes and I have never hesitated to adopt them. Just as a visual artist may move from painting to sculpture to drawing, I feel free to move from improvised settings to through-composed works.  My Go: Organic Orchestra project has its own prototypical process that includes an invented conducting language interpreting a score of interval matrices, cosmograms and ostinatos of circularity. Some of these same score elements as well as what I have learned from years of improvisationally conducting Go: Organic Orchestra has found its way into the through-composed work we hear tonight.

Each creative process informs the other:  an idea is always more significant than the system it can generate. What matters to me is to choose the best vehicle and means for that which I wish to express. Additionally, the observation of nature, as something sensed and also understood as process and design, is important to me as an artist.

I don’t believe in a class system in music.  I try to hear the humanity in all music I encounter, and as such, each cultural and individual creative process and expression is valid. In my own search, all of my musical activities inform one another. My hand striking the drum and setting the vibration of “Om” into the air informs my putting pencil to paper in composing a string quartet, and vise/versa.  The music you hear tonight is non programmatic. I hope the title gives enough indication for each listener to find their own inspiration. Perhaps there is larger meaning that has to do with the mystery of the collective experience of the music at this given time and place.

Photo by Peter Gannushkin /DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET

James Ilgenfritz has been a part of New York’s experimental music community for over ten years, working with Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, & Anthony Coleman, as well as composers Lukas Ligeti, Pauline Oliveros, Annie Gosfield, JG Thirlwell, Karin Rehnqvist, Ted Hearne, & Gordon Beeferman. He is also active as a bandleader, sideman, & composer.

He recently received a prestigious project grant from New Music USA to make his second solo bass CD, “Origami Cosmos,” featuring pieces written for him by a wide variety of composers and available on Infrequent Seams.

Other recent recordings include MiND GAMeS (with Denman Maroney, Andrew Drury, Angelika Niescier), Compositions (Braxton) 2011, a solo bass recording of the music of Anthony Braxton, and his second solo CD Origami Cosmos, of pieces written for him by a vari

In 2011 James was Artist-In-Residence at Issue Project Room, where he premiered his opera ‘The Ticket That Exploded’ (based on William Burroughs’ 1962 Novel). A graduate of University of Michigan & University of California San Diego, James is on faculty at Brooklyn College Preparatory Center & Brooklyn Conservatory.

About String Quartet No. 1 “Unbroken,” James writes:

In December 2013, I gave a personally significant solo performance at Roulette in New York as part of Thomas Buckner’s Interpretations series. This decisive moment in my creative development is reflected in all creative work I have been doing since, particularly in this composition, which was created with the express purpose of representing my work as a performer and improviser in the medium of fixed notation.

Pauline Oliveros, Connie Crothers, and Robert Ashley were all in attendance at this concert, and now they have all transitioned to the next plane. This was in fact the last occasion that I saw either Bob or Pauline. Bob died shortly after this concert, and while Pauline and I exchanged many emails right up until shortly before her passing, that was the last occasion we talked face-to-face. Connie and I played some wonderful music together a few months before she passed, and in various ways all three of these great musicians continue on as a part of my life despite their no longer breathing and walking among us.

I offer this work as an expression of my gratitude for their support and continued influence. The title “Unbroken” refers both to their continued presence in my life, and, with an admitted degree of pretension, to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s oft-quoted description of ‘personality’ as an “unbroken series of successful gestures,” which I hope this work will communicate to the listener.

I would also like to acknowledge the huge debt I owe to Arthur Kampela and Carman Moore, whose guidance in the development of this piece was beyond crucial.

This concert is co-sponsored by the League of Composers/ISCM and is made possible with the generous support of the Amphion Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund For Music, Inc., the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, the Edward T. Cone Foundation, The Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ, The Reed Foundation, Steven R. Gerber Trust, Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy, public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, Pinnacle Prep Premium Test Preparation, League Board members, and private donations.