Press Room

Brooklyn Rider Tours with Anne Sofie von Otter, Releases “So Many Things”, and Collaborates with Dancers Brian Brooks and Wendy Whelan in 2016-17

Cutting-edge string quartet Brooklyn Rider, hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the wonders of contemporary music,” pursues two new long-term collaborative projects in the 2016-17 season. On September 30 the group releases a new CD with Grammy Award-winning Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter on Naïve Classique, titled So Many Things, including music by Colin Jacobsen, Caroline Shaw, John Adams, Nico Muhly, Björk, Sting, Kate Bush and Elvis Costello, among others. Together they will tour material from the album and more in the U.S. and Europe, including stops at Carnegie Hall and the Opernhaus Zürich. Also this season, the group tours with choreographer Brian Brooks and former New York City Ballet prima ballerina Wendy Whelan, playing onstage as a central element of a series of duets and solos called Some of a Thousand Words. In between tours the quartet finds time for a residency at Michigan State University and a concert at Flushing Town Hall for the 5 Boroughs Music Festival. Later in the spring the group performs in Santa Barbara with kamancheh virtuoso and three-time Grammy nominee Kayhan Kalhor, and gives a quartet performance at the Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills.

Called “the future of chamber music” by Strings magazine, Brooklyn Rider has drawn rave reviews from classical, rock and world-music critics alike. Time Out New York observes that the group’s “down-to-earth demeanor…demystifies contemporary classical music and invites everyone into the tent.” This casual and eclectic approach is a perfect fit for Anne Sofie von Otter, who in the words of the Washington Post is able “to fit into a range of styles without a lot of fuss … she’s like the singer next door; she seems as though she just happens to be sharing with you a couple of songs she likes.”

The album So Many Things, like Brooklyn Rider itself, is situated somewhere in the intersection of a handful of genres, but it reaches that middle ground from two directions: through classical composers with leanings toward popular music and jazz, and popular composers known for having classical influences. Included are works by Nico Muhly, Anders Hillborg, Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw, and Brooklyn Rider violinist Colin Jacobsen, of whom the latter two were composing specifically for the project; as well as specially commissioned arrangements of pieces by John Adams, Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright, Sting, Björk, Kate Bush, and jazz pianist Brad Mehldau. The group tours the U.S. and Europe with von Otter in support of the new album, with a stop at Carnegie Hall on October 13. So Many Things was recorded with Brooklyn Rider founding cellist Eric Jacobsen, who left the group last summer to focus on his burgeoning career as a conductor; new cellist Michael Nicolas, now firmly ensconced with the group after alternating concerts with Jacobsen last spring, plays all the upcoming tour dates.

The other long-term collaboration that figures prominently in Brooklyn Rider’s upcoming season, with dancers Brian Brooks and Wendy Whelan, was begun last spring with performances at New Haven’s Shubert Theater and the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts. Using music from composers John Luther Adams, Tyondai Braxton, Philip Glass, and a new composition from Colin Jacobsen, the intimate series of duets and solos Some of a Thousand Words, choreographed by Brooks, foregrounds the quartet’s live onstage music as a dynamic and central creative component. Tour destinations stretch from coast to coast, with venues that include three of the work’s co-commissioners: the Modlin Center for the Arts in Richmond, Virginia, the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in Louisville, and New York’s Joyce Theater. Another stop is at Chicago’s Harris Theater, where Brooks, also a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, was recently named Choreographer in Residence. Some of a Thousand Words is Whelan and Brooks’s second collaboration; their first, Restless Creature, was co-produced by the Joyce Theater in 2013 and described by the Boston Globe as “luminous” and a “tour de force”.

This is not the first time Brooklyn Rider has made a foray into the dance world, or collaborated with Brian Brooks. In July of 2014 the group gave the world premiere of Chalk and Soot, a dance theater piece with music by Colin Jacobsen and choreography by John Heginbotham, at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, reprising the work a few months later as part of Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival. Both Heginbotham and Brooks, along with former New York City Ballet star Damian Woetzel and dancer Lil Buck, were also involved in creating the extended body of related work from other genres that accompanied the 2014 Brooklyn Rider Almanac project.

When the quartet plays with Kayhan Kalhor later in the spring they will again be reuniting with an old friend and longtime collaborator. Like the quartet members, Kalhor has a long-standing relationship with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, and Brooklyn Rider was featured on Kalhor’s 2008 recording Silent City – named one of Rhapsody’s best world-music albums of the last decade.

This adventurous new season follows an equally varied string of notable achievements for Brooklyn Rider. A residency at celebrated new Brooklyn Arts hub National Sawdust last season ended with a concert that was part of the citywide NY Phil Biennial, and included the world premiere of BTT by Colin Jacobsen and the New York premiere of Tyondai Braxton’s Arp Rec 1, a work written for the Brooklyn Rider Almanac. Last February saw the album release of The Fiction Issue with eclectic composer, pianist and singer Gabriel Kahane, along with a five-stop tour of material from the disc that included performances in the Boston Celebrity Series and at Washington Performing Arts. The quartet also toured Scandinavia and Germany in March, some of which territory will be covered again during this season’s tour with Anne Sofie von Otter. NPR Music, reviewing the Almanac, captured the essence of the group’s lasting appeal: “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.”

For high-resolution photos, click here.


Brooklyn Rider: 2016-17 engagements

Sep 1
Copenhagen, Denmark
Tivoli Concert Hall
With Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano

Oct 7
Chapel Hill, NC
Carolina Performing Arts
Memorial Hall
With Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano

Oct 8
Washington, DC
Washington Performing Arts
With Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano

Oct 13
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall
With Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano

Nov 3
Stockholm, Sweden
With Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano

Nov 5
Utrecht, Netherlands
Sichting Grote Zangers
With Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano

Nov 8
Brussels, Belgium
Royal Conservatory of Brussels
With Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano

Nov 11
Saffron Walden, UK
Saffron Hall Trust
With Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano

Nov 12
Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Philharmonie Luxembourg
With Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano

Nov 13
Zurich, Switzerland
Opernhaus Zurich
With Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano

Nov 30 – Dec 1 (Dec 1 performance)
East Lansing, MI
Michigan State University

Dec 2
Flushing, NY
Flushing Town Hall

Dec 3-4
Old Lyme, CT
With Edward Aaron, cello

Dec 9
Columbia, SC

Dec 11
Beaufort, SC

Jan 25
Rockport, MA

Feb 15
Norton, MA
Wheaton College

Feb 21
Los Angeles, CA
Some of a Thousand Words
With Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks

Feb 24
Chicago, IL
Harris Theater
Some of a Thousand Words
With Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks

Feb 27
New York, NY
Joyce Theatre
Some of a Thousand Words
With Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks

March 8
Louisville, KY
Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts
Some of a Thousand Words
With Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks

March 11
Denver, CO
Lone Tree Arts Center
Some of a Thousand Words
With Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks

March 15-16
Richmond, VA
The Modlin Center
Some of a Thousand Words
With Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks

May 11
Santa Barbara, CA
University of California Santa Barbara
With Kayhan Kalhor, kamancheh

May 13
Beverly Hills, CA
Bram Goldsmith Theater

#          #          #

© 21C Media Group, September 2016

Return to Press Room