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Brooklyn Rider Releases Spontaneous Symbols on In a Circle Records (Oct 20)

Brooklyn Rider, the game-changing string quartet who’s “superb playing is matched only by the thought, commitment and inspiration its members pour into projects” (NPR Music), releases Spontaneous Symbols on October 20 for In a Circle Records. All the music on the album was written for the group, by composers from the extended Brooklyn Rider family including Tyondai BraxtonColin JacobsenEvan ZiporynPaula Matthusen and Kyle Sanna. As quartet violist Nicholas Cords puts it, the project is “somewhat rooted in the artistic firmament of New York City, but the scope of these wide ranging works extends far beyond.” Above all, he notes, Spontaneous Symbols shows the quartet once again at the core of our artistic mission; bringing new works to life.”

Tyondai Braxton – a Brooklyn resident and veteran of the math-rock band Battles, which he co-founded – composed the highly virtuosic ArpRec1 generatively using a music software program. Inspired by the compositions of Fred Lerdahl and Iannis Xenakis, the work was commissioned by Washington Performing Arts and premiered by Brooklyn Rider at Washington, DC’s Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in the spring of 2015. The New York premiere followed a year later when the quartet participated in the NY PHIL BIENNIAL. Braxton’s music is also featured in Some of a Thousand Words, the quartet’s collaborative project with Guggenheim Fellowship-winning choreographer Brian Brooks and former New York City Ballet prima ballerina Wendy Whelan, which continues performances this season at venues on both coasts of the U.S.

Brooklyn Rider’s own Colin Jacobsen is a prolific contributor to the group’s repertoire. Most of their albums feature at least one of his compositions, including last season’s Naïve Classique release, So Many Things, on which eminent Swedish mezzo Anne Sofie von Otter sings his Carnegie Hall-commissioned For sixty cents. For his contribution to Spontaneous Symbols, he pays homage to the diverse world of NYC’s downtown music scene in the 70s and 80s, which included the likes of Glenn Branca, John Lurie, Meredith Monk, the Velvet Underground, the Ramones, and many other visionary musicians, while seeing them through the lens of John Cage and J.S. Bach. Titled BTT, the work also premiered at the quartet’s 2016 NY PHIL BIENNIAL performance and is featured in the Some of a Thousand Words project.

Evan Ziporyn is founder of Bang on a Can All-stars, renowned new-music clarinetist and Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music at MIT. For the quartet’s So Many Things project with von Otter, Ziporyn was commissioned by Carnegie Hall to arrange “Am I In Your Light?” from John Adams’ Doctor Atomic. His composition on the quartet’s new album is a spellbinding work exploring the different aspects of Qi, the Chinese concept of psychophysical energies that permeate the universe. The piece was commissioned by Brooklyn Rider and premiered at the group’s Stillwater Music Festival in Minnesota, where Ziporyn was the featured composer, in the summer of 2013.

Brooklyn Rider gave the U.S. premiere of noted electro-acoustic composer and Rome Prize-winner Paula Matthusen’s on the attraction for felicitous amplitude for string quartet and electronics at Wesleyan University, where she serves as Associate Professor of Music, in 2015. Part of a series of works based on field recordings in sites of historical infrastructure, the work amplifies the mysterious sounds and resonant frequencies of an ancient Roman cistern buried beneath the American Academy in Rome, where Brooklyn Rider premiered the work.

Finally, Brooklyn guitarist, composer, producer and arranger Kyle Sanna looks to the influential mid-century American photographer and founder of Aperture Magazine in his episodic musical essay Sequence for Minor White. Sanna has performed with and arranged for a range of artists, many of whom are also important parts of the Brooklyn Rider extended family, including Yo-Yo Ma and omnivorous banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck. Sanna arranged the Kate Bush song Pi for Anne Sofie von Otter and the quartet on So Many Things, and his arrangements of traditional Irish tunes will be heard on Brooklyn Rider’s upcoming collaborative album with Irish fiddler Martin Hayes.

With this closely knit family of composers, a roster of extra-musical inspirations, and a wide range of virtuosic showcases, Spontaneous Symbols perfectly exemplifies NPR Music’s praise for 2014’s the Brooklyn Rider Almanac: “Brooklyn Rider is one of today’s most technically accomplished string quartets, full stop. Its superb playing is matched only by the thought, commitment and inspiration its members pour into projects like this one — making the string quartet not a relic of times long gone, but a vessel for the shape of music to come.”

Music from Spontaneous Symbols will be heard in concert during much of the coming season, alongside the quartet’s ongoing collaborative projects: Some of a Thousand Words has performances in California and Maryland in the fall; the group performs with von Otter in Sweden and Germany; and a U.S. tour with Béla Fleck focuses on central states from Texas to Montana. The group also travels to Dublin in January for a concert with Martin Hayes, and concerts with jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman are slated for the spring.

The new album also marks a return to In a Circle Records, the label launched in 2008 by quartet violinist Johnny Gandelsman. The label’s first release was also Brooklyn Rider’s debut album, Passport, and subsequent quartet releases have included Dominant Curve and Seven Steps. Nicholas Cords’s 2013 solo debut, Recursions, was also recorded on In a Circle, as well as albums for Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, which includes Brooklyn Rider members, and The Knights, the chamber orchestra founded and co-artistic directed by Colin Jacobsen and his brother Eric.

For high-resolution photos, click here.


Spontaneous Symbols

Label: In a Circle Records

Digital release date: Friday, October 20

Physical release date: Friday, November 3

Track List:

  1. ArpRec 1a -Tyondai Braxton
  2. ArpRec 1b – Tyondai Braxton
  3. BTT -Colin Jacobsen
  4. Qi – 1) Lucid Flight – Evan Ziporyn
  5. Qi – 2) Garden – Evan Ziporyn
  6. Qi – 3) Transport – Evan Ziporyn
  7. on the attraction for felicitous amplitude – Paula Matthusen
  8. Sequence for Minor White – Kyle Sanna

Brooklyn Rider: 2017-18 season

September 8-10

Charlottesville, VA

Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival 

Oct 13

Pawling, NY

Pawling Concert Series

Oct 19

New York, NY


Oct 25

Washington D.C.


Oct 29

Amherst, MA

UMass Fine Arts Center

Oct 30

Boston, MA

Harvard Education Portal

Nov 3

Princeton, NJ

Nov 29, 30

San Francisco, CA

Herbst Theatre

San Francisco Performances Inc.

With Wendy Whelan, dancer and Brian Brooks, dancer/choreographer

Dec 2

San Diego, CA

La Jolla Music Society

Balboa Theatre

With Wendy Whelan, dancer and Brian Brooks, dancer/choreographer

Dec 9

College Park, MD

University of Maryland

Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

With Wendy Whelan, dancer and Brian Brooks, dancer/choreographer

Jan 11

Malmö, Sweden

Malmö Live Koncerthus

With Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano

Jan 12

Potsdam, Germany


With Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano

Jan 14

Dallas, TX

Dallas Center for Performing Arts

With Béla Fleck, banjo 

Jan 15

San Angelo, TX

San Angelo Performing Arts Center

With Béla Fleck, banjo 

Jan 16

Edmond, OK

Armstrong Auditorium

With Béla Fleck, banjo 

Jan 17

Fayetteville, AR

Walton Arts Center

With Béla Fleck, banjo 

Jan 19

Beaver Creek, CO

Vilar Performing Arts Center

With Béla Fleck, banjo

Jan 20

Boulder, CO

University of Colorado

With Béla Fleck, banjo

Jan 21

Billings, MT

Alberta Blair Theater

With Béla Fleck, banjo 

Jan 22

Bozeman, MT

The Ellen Theatre

With Béla Fleck 

Jan 24

Dublin, Ireland

National Concert Hall

With Martin Hayes, violin 

Jan 25

London, UK

The Barbican Theatre 

Feb 9

Santa Fe, NM

Lensic Performing Arts Center 

Feb 13

Fort Worth, TX

Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge

Feb 15

Greenville, SC

Peace Center for the Performing Arts

Gunter Theater

Feb 17

Columbia, MD

Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center 

Feb 23

Hamilton, MT

Bitterroot Performing Arts Council

Feb 23

Bozeman, MT

The Ellen Theatre 

March 18

Concord, MA

Concord Chamber Music Society 

April 28

Sleepy Hollow, NY

Sleepy Hollow High School

May 16

Tallahassee, FL

Florida State University

May 18

Princeton, NJ

McCarter Theater

With Joshua Redman

May 19

Boston, MA

Celebrity Series of Boston

Berklee Performance Center

With Joshua Redman

June 2

Dresden, Germany

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© 21C Media Group, August 2017

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