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Brooklyn Rider’s summer: Béla Fleck tour, “Chalk and Soot” premiere, Stillwater Festival

Brooklyn Rider – fresh from high-profile performances last week at the Ojai Festival – is set to embark on a characteristically wide-ranging and innovative summer season, as the group continues to merit NPR’s praise for “re-creating the 300-year-old form of the string quartet as a vital and creative 21st-century ensemble.” The foursome – violinist Johnny Gandelsman, violinist Colin Jacobsen, violist Nicholas Cords and cellist Eric Jacobsen – treks across the U.S. and Canada for its third tour with Grammy Award-winning banjo icon Béla Fleck from June 22 to July 5; the program will feature his piece Night Flight Over Water, which the quartet recorded with the banjoist-composer for Deutsche Grammophon. On July 30 at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, Brooklyn Rider will give the world premiere of the evening-length Chalk and Soot, a work by choreographer John Heginbotham to music composed by Colin Jacobsen. The quartet – along with guest vocalist Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond – will give six performances of the work from July 30 to August 3. Brooklyn Rider caps its summer season in Minnesota with the ninth annual Stillwater Music Festival (Aug 25-28), which the quartet founded and directs. Guest collaborators at Stillwater this summer include singer-songwriters Gabriel Kahane and Aoife O’Donovan. The music performed at Stillwater will include “Exit” from Chalk and Soot and “Show Me” by Aoife O’Donovan, pieces that will also be included in the Brooklyn Rider Almanac, a major new recording project that will help mark the group’s tenth anniversary this fall.
Tour with Béla Fleck

Brooklyn Rider recorded Night Flight Over Water with Fleck for his debut Deutsche Grammophon album The Impostor, released in fall 2013. Their current tour featuring that work will also include arrangements by Colin Jacobsen of pieces Fleck originally recorded with his bands New Grass Revival and the Flecktones. Brooklyn Rider’s performances over the past year with Fleck have received rave reviews across the country. Alabama’s Birmingham News concluded: “Their encounter was a cross-pollination of ideas, stretching from avant-garde Americana to Romanian Gypsy music, from Ireland to South America. Whether a flash in the pan, a growing fad or the future of music, it formed a unique, eminently listenable bond.” In its review, the Seattle Times encapsulated the group’s achievements: “Something seems inevitable about the recent partnership of innovative string quartet Brooklyn Rider and pioneering banjo master Béla Fleck. … For more than a decade, Brooklyn Rider has been called the future of chamber music, with their embrace of new compositions and envelope-pushing collaborations with other global artists.”

Brooklyn Rider’s summer tour with Fleck kicks off June 22 at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado and finishes July 5 back in Colorado at Boulder’s Chautauqua Auditorium, with five dates in between – from Ottawa, Canada (June 26) and Westhampton Beach, Long Island (June 29) to Interlochen, MI (July 1), Evanston, IL (July 2), and Minneapolis (July 3).

Chalk and Soot
The evening-length work Chalk and Soot by John Heginbotham and Colin Jacobsen combines theatrical choreography with live music performed by Brooklyn Rider and vocalist Shara Worden. The six world-premiere performances from July 30 to August 3 at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, MA, will also include singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane as a guest on harmonium. To get a feel for Chalk and Soot, there is a brief video teaser for the lovely, playful work here.

Stillwater Music Festival, August 25-28

Coming up on its ninth season this summer, the Stillwater Music Festival is a weeklong festival founded and led by Brooklyn Rider in Stillwater, MN. The festival offers a platform for the quartet – three of whose members have Minnesota roots – to work with old friends and new partners in a familiar setting. Events take place in the Stillwater area, with the Washington County Historic Courthouse serving as the principal concert home. Previous festival collaborations have included Béla Fleck, kamancheh master Kayhan Kalhor, pipa virtuoso Wu Man and clarinetist-composer Evan Ziporyn, among many other “dearest musical friends,” as Brooklyn Rider violist Nicholas Cords calls them.
This summer’s programs in Stillwater include a concert on the theme of “celebrating the natural world,” which includes works by composers as diverse as Haydn and John Cage, in addition to U.S. premieres of works by Brooklyn-based guitarist-composer Kyle Sanna and Swedish composer Tobias Broström. Also on the program is a Colin Jacobsen arrangement of the folk song “Little Birdie” in tribute to the late folk-music legend Pete Seeger. The Haydn piece, the G minor String Quartet Op. 74 No. 3 “The Rider,” is what Brooklyn Rider recently performed as a curtain-raiser at the Ojai Festival for the Jeremy Denk-Steven Stuckey work The Classical Style: An Opera (of Sorts). And about performing the Broström piece at the festival, Brooklyn Rider wrote “we absolutely fell in love with this work when gave its premiere in Sweden this past April, and we can’t wait to bring its beguiling and atmospheric Nordic sensibilities to all of you.”

This summer’s Stillwater Festival finale, on August 28, revolves around the theme of text and music closely intertwined. The concert will include Janácek’s String Quartet No. 1 “Kreutzer Sonata” (after Tolstoy) and Colin Jacobsen’s “Exit” from Chalk and Soot (based on a text by Kandinsky), plus music singer-songwriters Gabriel Kahane and Aoife O’Donovan, who will be there to perform with Brooklyn Rider.

Brooklyn Rider: summer engagements

June 22
Telluride, CO
Telluride Bluegrass Festival
With Béla Fleck

June 26
Ottawa, ON, Canada
Ottawa International Jazz Festival
With Béla Fleck

June 29
Westhampton Beach, NY
Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center
With Béla Fleck

July 1
Interlochen, MI
Interlochen Center for the Arts
With Béla Fleck

July 2
Evanston, IL
Evanston SPACE
With Béla Fleck

July 3
Minneapolis, MN
Weesner Family Ampitheater
With Béla Fleck

July 5
Boulder, CO
Chautauqua Auditorium
With Béla Fleck

July 30-Aug 3 (with two performances on Aug 2)
Becket, MA
Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival

Aug 9
Bridgehampton, NY
Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival
Birdgehampton Presbyterian Church

Aug 25
Stillwater, MN
Stillwater Music Festival
The Washington County Historic Courthouse
Haydn: String Quartet in G minor, Op. 74 No. 3
Kyle Sanna: Sequence for Minor White (U.S. premiere)
Tobias Broström: String Quartet No. 1 (U.S. premiere)
John Cage, arr. Justin Messina: In a Landscape 
Traditional, arr. Colin Jacobsen (after Pete Seeger): “Little Birdie”

Stillwater, MN
Stillwater Music Festival
Family Concert
Stillwater Public Library
Gabriel Kahane and Aoife O’Donovan

Aug 28
Stillwater, MN
Stillwater Music Festival
The Washington County Historic Courthouse
With Gabriel Kahane and Aoife O’Donovan
Gabriel Kahane: “Bradbury (304 Broadway)”
Gabriel Kahane: Bradbury Studies (Minnesota premiere)
Janáček: String Quartet No. 1 “Kreutzer Sonata”
Colin Jacobsen: “Exit” (from Chalk and Soot – Minnesota premiere)
Gabriel Kahane: “Come On All You Ghosts” (Minnesota premiere)
Aoife O’Donovan: “Show Me” (Minnesota premiere)
Songs by Aoife O’Donovan and Gabriel Kahane

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© 21C Media Group, June 2014





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