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Brooklyn Rider Tours Some of a Thousand Words with Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks – to NYC, LA, Chicago, and More (Feb 21–March 16)

Last spring, when pathbreaking string quartet Brooklyn Rider premiered Some of a Thousand Words – an interdisciplinary collaboration with choreographer Brian Brooks and former New York City Ballet prima ballerina Wendy Whelan – the project was hailed as a “triumph” (New Haven Independent). Now the four musicians reunite with Brooks and Whelan to reprise the work, in which their kinetic onstage performance plays a central role, on a coast-to-coast U.S. tour that kicks off in Los Angeles (Feb 21) and includes three of the work’s co-commissioning institutions: the Modlin Center for the Arts in Richmond, VA (March 15 & 16), the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in Louisville, KY (March 8), and New York’s famed Joyce Theater (Feb 27). The remaining tour stops are in Denver (March 11) and at Chicago’s Harris Theater (Feb 24), where Brooks, a Guggenheim fellow, was recently named Choreographer-in-Residence.

Brooklyn Rider violinist Colin Jacobsen explains:

“We take our name in part from the Blue Rider Group, which was an artistic collective active in Munich about a hundred years ago. I think it’s appropriate that we love working with collaborators from other disciplines.”

Some of a Thousand Words – an intimate series of duets and solos – is set to works by Tyondai Braxton and Colin Jacobsen that were originally written for the ensemble, as well as to music by Jacob Cooper, Pulitzer Prize-winner John Luther Adams and Philip Glass. Glass’s Third String Quartet – based on his score for the Paul Schrader feature film Mishima – may be heard on Brooklyn Rider’s recording of his complete string quartets, named one of NPR’s “50 Favorite Albums of 2011.” Jacobsen adds:

“It’s an incredibly diverse group of composers, but somehow they feel like they fit together and form this nice flow of an evening’s program. There’s this incredible added energy when all the forces come together and you get something that is neither just dance nor just music, but a new, beautiful coming together of worlds.”

Click here to see Brooks, Jacobsen, and Whelan talk about Some of a Thousand Words.

Some of a Thousand Words drew raves when it debuted last spring. The New Haven Independent declared:

Some Of A Thousand Words marks a paradigm shift with which the audience must get comfortable fast. … As Brooklyn Rider plunges … into an original composition by violinist Colin Jacobsen, Whelan and Brooks respond, their bodies and the music wholly intertwined by the end of the night.”

After a repeat performance at Massachusetts’s internationally renowned Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, The Rogovoy Report affirmed:

“Whelan is making the transformation into one of the most startling performers in contemporary dance. Her form, technique, and musculature-defying movement instantly give her a unique signature as a dancer, and this ability to do things that no one else can do opens new possibilities in choreography. … Brooklyn Rider … performed … with the aplomb of the dancers.”

Some of a Thousand Words marks the second collaboration between Whelan and Brooks; their first, Restless Creature, was a 2013 Joyce Theater co-production that impressed the Boston Globe as a “luminous … tour de force.” Nor is dance collaboration new for Brooklyn Rider. Brian Brooks was one of the choreographers who contributed to the group’s seminal, multidisciplinary Brooklyn Rider Almanac, the project that prompted NPR to write:

“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.”

During a summer residency at the 2015 Vail International Dance Festival, Brooklyn Rider took part in the world premiere performances of newly commissioned Almanac choreography by such dance luminaries as Lil Buck & Damian Woetzel, Rashaun Mitchell & Silas Riener, Matthew Neenan, and Pam Tanowitz. At Jacob’s Pillow in July 2014, the group also joined Shara Nova (formerly Shara Worden) and Gabriel Kahane to premiere Chalk and Soot, a dance theater piece set to music by Colin Jacobsen with choreography by 2014 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award-winner John Heginbotham, before reprising the work a few months later at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival. Click here to see an excerpt from Chalk and Soot.

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Brooklyn Rider garnered acclaim with another high-profile collaboration this past fall, when it released So Many Things – a collection of music by Colin Jacobsen, Caroline Shaw, John Adams, Nico Muhly, Björk, Sting, Kate Bush, Elvis Costello, and others – with Grammy Award-winning mezzo Anne Sofie von Otter. The new title was named “Album of the Week” by WQXR’s Q2, which observed: “As such versatile artists seize a kaleidoscope of styles with undaunted aplomb, So Many Things tears down the very concept of genre.” The group and mezzo drew like praise when they toured a similar program live in concert; the Washington Post admired Brooklyn Rider’s “intense, inspired performance” and von Otter’s “easy virtuosity,” in a review that continued:

“Brooklyn Rider showed its formidable mettle in two instrumental masterworks … and equally fine playing in the (very good) pop arrangements. … Nicolas Cords is the violist, whose tone, in Björk’s ‘Hunter,’ sounded exactly like an extension of von Otter’s voice.”

For high-resolution photos, click here.


Brooklyn Rider: Some of a Thousand Words U.S. tour

Feb 21–March 16
With Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks, dancers
John Luther Adams: The Wind in High Places
Philip Glass: String Quartet No. 3, Mishima
Colin Jacobsen: BTT (original composition)*
Tyondai Braxton: ArpRec 1*
Jacob Cooper: Arches for cello and electronics
* composed for Brooklyn Rider
Feb 21: Los Angeles, CA (University of Southern California)
Feb 24: Chicago, IL (Harris Theater)
Feb 27: New York, NY (Joyce Theatre)
March 8: Louisville, KY (Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts)
March 11: Denver, CO (Lone Tree Arts Center)
March 15 & 16: Richmond, VA (Modlin Center for the Arts) 

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© 21C Media Group, January 2017

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