New York City was a particularly beautiful place for Del Sol’s whirlwind tour this past April. For the five magical days, the city lavished us with spring colors as we explored mostly brand-new venues and many enthusiastic audiences from Brooklyn, to Downtown, to the Upper West Side.
On the first night of our tour, we converged at the avant-garde Café Orwell in Brooklyn wiith Amy X Neuburg, playing for a lively young crowd . The next night we played at the historical Gershwin Hotel as part of Vicky Chow's Contagious Sounds, a new music series focusing on adventurous contemporary artists and composer. The concert was in an intimate, old and lustrous ballroom - while it was only one third of its original size, it is definitely an acoustical “find” in Manhattan.
A third concert took place the following afternoon-Easter Sunday-in the beautiful penthouse home of Jonathan Vincent, where some young fans were dyeing elaborate Easter eggs before the concert. There were spectacular panoramic views and pictures of his late grandfather, famed singer Theodore Upmann, everywhere you turned.
For our final concert, we played closing night of the Cutting Edge New Music Festival curated by Victoria Bond at Symphony Space. Composers Reza Vali, Ben Johnston, Ronald Bruce Smith and Amy X Neuberg participated in person to introduce their piece in a lively dialogue with Bond. (Amy X additionally performed with us as part of her first string quartet!) Despite the physical absence of 85-year-old Ben Johnston (at home in Wisconsin), we were able to include him in the concert via Skype video, which proved to be quite delightful. Despite the difficulties of Ben’s meticulous and complex use of "just intonation," with great patience and perseverance, we made the piece our own to an enthusiastic New York reception.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Is it almost summer already? Del Sol is a bit seasonally confused because, in February, we travelled to a balmy 70 degree Washington DC to perform two engaging all-Asian programs. Our performance of works by six composers at the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery featured Kui Dong's “Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter Suite” for string quartet and traditional Chinese instruments - this concert was in conjunction with the the exhibition "Seasons: Chinese Landscapes" at the museum. Guest artists playing pipa, sheng, guzheng, and Chinese strings and winds accompanied us with the composer participating, and the Washington Post reviewer praised the work for "exceptional beauty and imagination." Three of the six featured composers attended the performance (Kui Dong, Reza Vali and Koji Nakano), further captivating the audience in a delightful evening, despite any mishaps due to the DC metro shut-down the Smithsonian stop. Sadly, post-concert, after-museum-hour photos in the gallery did not pan out!
The following day, we performed the entrancing string quartet version of Koji Nakano’s Time Song III at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre, sponsored by the S & R Foundation. In this piece, we evoke the spirits of transfigured souls by shouting and singing while playing our instrumental line. This distinct and powerful music provided many interesting conversations later that evening, at reception hosted by the foundation - few people had ever heard music like it!