Flow: Deep, seamless engagement on the activity at hand – not dwelling on the outcome, inner cross talk or interfering thoughts.
"Periods of struggle to overcome challenges are what people find the most enjoyable times in their lives." Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Rumi Settings (2001), A. R. Thomas (b. 1964)
for violin, and viola
Wasserspiele (2001),Siegfried Matthus (b. 1934)
for viola, clarinet, piano
Duo Flow (2007), Richard Carrick (b. 1971)
for violin, and cello
IV jeux a deux
Im fremden Land (2002), Philippe Hersant (b. 1948)
for clarinet, string quartet, and piano
Totentanz (Death Dance)
Andenken (In memory of...)
Phantasiestück (Fantasy Piece, intermezzo)
Special guests: Anton Miller, violin, Rita Porfiris, viola
The appearances of Mr. Miller and Miss Porfiris are made possible
By a grant from the
Augusta Read Thomas was born in Glen Cove, New York. Thomas was appointed University Professor of Composition at the University of Chicago in 2011. Additionally, she was the Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) from May 1997 through June 2006, a residency that culminated in the premiere of Astral Canticle — one of two finalists for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Music. During her residency with the CSO, under the direction of Daniel Barenboim, Thomas not only premiered nine commissioned works, but also founded, along with Cliff Colnot, and curated the MusicNOW series. In addition to Barenboim, Thomas's music has been championed by other leading conductors including, Pierre Boulez, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Oliver Knussen, Seiji Ozawa, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leonard Slatkin, David Robertson, Christoph Eschenbach, Ludovic Morlot, and Xian Zhang.
From 2009 to 2011, Augusta is the MUSICALIVE Composer-in-Residence with the New Haven Symphony. MUSICALIVE is a national residency program of The League of American Orchestras and Meet the Composer.
From 1993 to 2001, Thomas was an assistant professor, then associate professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music, and from 2001 until 2006 she was the Wyatt Professor of Music at Northwestern University. Having resigned from her teaching position in order to fully devote herself to composition in July 2006, she continues her involvement with Northwestern University by serving actively on the Dean's Music Advisory Board. In 2007-2008, Thomas was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Music in the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. Frequently, Thomas undertakes short-term residencies in colleges, universities, and festivals across the United States and in Europe.
Thomas studied composition with Jacob Druckman at Yale University, with Alan Stout and Bill Karlins at Northwestern University, and at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University (1991–94) and a Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe College (1990–91), and often teaches composition at Tanglewood. Thomas has also been on the Board of Directors of the American Music Center since 2000, as well as on the boards and advisory boards of several chamber music groups.
In addition to the numerous commercial recordings of her music available on major record labels, Thomas has released five of her own albums independently.
Program Note by the Composer
My favorite moment in any piece of music is the moment of maximum risk and striving. Whether the venture is tiny or large, loud or soft, fragile or strong, passionate, erratic, ordinary or eccentric...! Maybe another way to say this is the moment of exquisite humanity and raw soul. All art that I cherish has an element of love and recklessness and desperation. I like music that is alive and jumps off the page and out of the instrument as if something big is at stake.
When I read this beautiful poem by Rumi, written 900 years ago, all of it but especially the last 3 lines
Stop the words now.
Open the window in the center of your chest
and let the spirits fly in and out.
resonated deeply inside of me. I felt deeply compelled to set it as a song without words, trying to capture its intensely personal, fiery, honest meaning.
I was thrilled and honored to receive a commission from the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, which provided me a much cherished and fantastic opportunity to compose Rumi Settings, which Ani and Ida Kavafian premiered in March 2002 in Tucson.
The work has a total duration 9 minutes and is made up of 4 short movements that can be played attacca or with short pauses between them.
Each of the movements adheres to the meaning, perfume, and essence of the stunning Rumi text. Throughout the score, each line of the text is written above the music, corresponding to the moment when the DUO is depicting that particular line of the poem, thus the musicians know the connotation and nuance of the composition.
It would take far too long to describe each line of text and their corresponding musical adventures. So allow me to modestly offer six brief examples of this procedure.
The music starts with a passionate, dramatic, cadenza like surge in the solo violin, played with the whole soul engaged and as if it does not matter if the instrument breaks (not literally) until the Viola soon enters, supporting and propelling the music forward onto a Kaleidoscopic journey. A climax ensues before the music relaxes "We have fallen into the place where everything is music" settling on a calm open fifth.
In Movement II you will hear notes rising into the atmosphere as the two soloists arpeggiate ascending chords with double stops. Suddenly, "the whole world's harp" rushes forward in full motion with pizzicatti until later the movement ends, in a distant, still calm, such that we can discern, "there will still be hidden instruments playing."
Movement III is extremely graceful and tuneful, like a pearl from the ocean floor...
--Augusta Read Thomas
Texts by Rumi [Translations by Bark; date composed, approx. 1240]
Don't worry about saving these songs! And if one of our instruments breaks, it doesn't matter.
We have fallen into the place where everything is music.
The strumming and the flute notes rise into the atmosphere, and even if the whole world's harp should burn up, there will still be hidden instruments playing.
So the candle flickers and goes out. We have a piece of flint, and a spark.
This singing art is sea foam. The graceful movements come from a pearl somewhere in the ocean floor.
Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge of driftwood along the beach, wanting!
They derive from a slow and powerful root that we can't see.
Stop the words now. Open the window in the center of your chest and let the spirits fly in and out.
Siegfried Matthus was born in Mallenuppen, East Prussia, on April 13, 1934. Driven from their homeland, in 1944 the family found itself in Läsikow, in a small Brandenburg village between Kyritz and Neuruppin. Matthus attended high school in Rheinsberg until 1952. He has remained in close touch with the strongly traditional city, founding the International Festival of Young Opera Singers in 1990, the chamber opera of Rheinsberg Castle. With his high school diploma from Rheinsberg in his pocket, he studied at the Deutsche Hochschule für Musik in Berlin, first majoring in Choral and Ensemble Conducting and later Composition with Rudolf Wagner-Regeny and Hanns Eisler. Matthus worked as a freelance journalist for radio between 1960 and 1964, was a songwriter, and composed radio plays and film scores. In 1964 Walter Felsenstein brought the young composer to the Komische Oper Berlin, where he became Composer-in-Residence. Collaboration with Walter Felsenstein, Götz Friedrich, Harry Kupfer, Joachim Herz, Horst Seeger, and Kurt Masur shaped his years there. Matthus’s compositions gained international recognition. He became a member of the German Academy of the Arts Berlin (East), and in the mid-70s was also named to the Academy of Arts (West) and to the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts Munich. His 13 operas firmly place dramatic works at the center of his output as a composer. His opera “Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke” was premiered at the reopening of Dresden’s Semperoper in 1985; this work has been and can still be heard on opera stages from Berlin to Saint Petersburg and New York. For “Judith”—also written in 1985— the curtain went up 25 times at the Komische Oper alone. Performances followed in Krefeld-Mönchengladbach, Ludwigsburg, Wiesbaden, Santa Fe and Bern. “Kronprinz Friedrich”— first performed at the opening of the rebuilt Rheinsberg Schlosstheater at the end of 1999—has been performed in various productions more than 50 times until now. These are impressive performance statistics for contemporary operas. And these are only examples. Matthus’s oeuvre is gigantic. In addition to opera it includes vocal and orchestral works as well as instrumental concertos. Many works, such as “Responso,” “Der Wald,” and “Manhattan Concerto” among others, are standard works within the orchestra repertory. To mark the occasion of the re-dedication of the Dresden Frauenkirche he composed a “Te Deum”—which was first performed by the Dresden Philharmonic under Kurt Masur in 2005. He worked through the loss of his homeland in his “Lamento”—first performed in 2007 by the Munich Philharmonic under Christian Thielemann. And every year new works are added. For instance, in May 2009 the “Concerto for Five”—commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic—has been premiered under Sir Simon Rattle. His lively, graphic musical language, his sure sense of expressive means, his sensitive treatment of the human voice, has made Siegfried Matthus one of the most successful contemporary composers. He is an untiring proponent of the cultural traditions of Germany in general, and for the opera as an artistic genre in particular.
The contemporary German composer Siegfried Matthus wrote Wasserspiele (Water Games) for Trio Apollon as part of a chamber music cycle aesthetic tribute to nature. The other parts of the cycle are Windspiele, for string trio, Lichte Spiele, for piano quartet, and Feuerspiele, for string quartet. Matthus, who studied with Rudolf Wagner-Régeny and Hanns Eisler and who worked for many years at Berlin’s Komische Oper as Dramaturg and composer, has rejected avant-garde expression in favour of music that “speaks,” “convinces,” and “communicates.” Wasserspiele consists of a prologue, that returns as an epilogue, and several inner sections in which the listener can make out French-influenced sonorities and blues-esque rhythms, among others.
Richard Carrick (born in Paris of French-Algerian and British decent) is a New York based composer who’s music has been performed internationally by the New York Philharmonic (Ensemble Series), Vienna’s Konzerthaus, ISCM World Music Days-Switzerland, Darmstadt Summer Festival, Tokyo International House, Merkin Hall, Nieuw Ensemble, JACK Quartet, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, soloists Magnus Andersson, Carin Levine, Rohan de Saram, David Shively and others.
Recent awards include a Fromm Foundation Commission for his second string quartet, and recent works include The Flow Cycle for Strings (released on New World Records in 2011), Adagios for String Quartet, and Find the Devil’s Lead. He also writes large-scale multi-media works such as Cosmicomics (based on stories by Italo Calvino) combining video, electronics and live musicians.
Carrick is currently Visiting Professor of Composition at Columbia University and Adjunct Professor at New York University. He has taught and guest lectured about his music in Japan, South Korea, Sweden, France, Germany, The Netherlands and the US where he was Visiting Artist-in-Residence at the New School in 2010.
Carrick co-founded and co-directs the New York based contemporary ensemble Either/Or. As performer (pianist, conductor, guitarist) he regularly premieres a diverse repertoire of solo and ensemble works by leading composers including Lachenmann, Czernowin, Radulescu, and Greenwood, as well as performing in improvising ensembles.
He studied at Columbia University (BA) with Mario Davidovsky and David Rakowski, UC-San Diego (MA, PhD) with Brian Ferneyhough, Aleck Karis and George Lewis, IRCAM (Stage d’éte) and Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague.
Duo Flow (2007)
Duo Flow is the fourth work, and first non-solo work, of the hour long Flow Cycle for Strings. The four movements of Duo Flow serve as both intermezzo to the complete cycle and as a deeper exploration of these themes, making both direct and indirect references to other pieces of the cycle (and other pieces I was working on at the time). The final movement of this work is in fact a transcription of the penultimate movement of Shadow Flow; the violin and cello hocket the original line back and forth to a dizzying conclusion.
The Flow Cycle is influenced by Islamic Mosaics, Gnawa music of Morocco, Albert Camus' L'Étranger, and the Flow concept of Csíkszentmihályi. While the first work "in flow" for solo violin uses an expansive linear approach to compose 'flow' of unrelated materials, each subsequent work (Shadow Flow for viola, Moroccan Flow (unfolding from unity) for 'cello, Duo Flow for violin and 'cello, and "à cause du soleil" Flow Trio for String Trio uses a sectional approach to create a mosaic-like experience of flow that is reflected in each of the works, which can be performed separately.
French composer Phillipe Hersant was born in Rome. His studies included literature as well as music and he took harmony classes with Georges Hugon before entering André Jolivet's composition class at the Paris Conservatory in 1968, receiving his undergraduate degree in literature that same year.
From 1970 to 1972, Hersant went on to teach music and to become a producer at the radio station France Musiques. In 1978 he became a resident at the Villa Médicis thanks to the support of Henri Dutilleux and Gilbert Amy. It was during this period that he truly came into his own as a composer. Stances for orchestra thus became his new first opus and is the earliest work in his catalogue. This piece was followed by several other, more melancholic works such as Missa brevis, the chamber opera les Visites espacées (Avignon, 1983) and the opera le Château des Carpathes (1982), based on a work by Jules Verne. He composed a number of shorter and more dynamic works for small instrumental ensembles before returning to the orchestral and greater forms with his Second Concerto for cello and the ballet Hurlevent (Palais-Garnier, 2002). His most recent opera based on a Chekhov story, The Black Monk, and was premiered by the Leipzig Opera in 2005.
Hersant defines himself as a tonal composer willing to turn music’s entire heritage – from Monteverdi to Janacek to Stockhausen – to his advantage. As a composer, he lives by a few precepts: to be personal rather than to seek innovation at all costs, to avoid greyness and to surprise. He has been named Composer of the Year at Victoires de la Musique Classique 2010.
Im fremden Land (2002)
IM FREMDEN LAND is a sextet for clarinet, string quartet and piano. The title, which means "in a foreign land" in German, refers to a very old German song ("Innsbrück, I must leave you, and I continue my route to another place ... Out there, in strange lands.") Originally a popular song, it was harmonized by Heinrich Isaac in the 15th century before becoming one of the most famous Lutheran chorales, renamed at that time: "O Welt, ich muss dich lassen" ("Oh World, I must leave you"). Jean-Sebastien Bach frequently used it in his cantatas and his Passions.
Revealed by the clarinet in the first measures, this melody is the leitmotiv, the connecting thread of my piece. The melody is present in each of the five movements, dressed in different forms and often mentioned by allusion, before being magnified in the final movement, where the string quartet performs it almost in its entirety in the harmonization of Heinrich Isaac.
The five movements have the following titles: “Wiegenlied" (Lullaby), “Totentanz" (Death Dance), “Andenken" (In memory of...). These are followed by an intermezzo, brief and ghostlike, which I gave a Schumann-like title “Phantasiestück" (Fantasy Piece). It is immediately followed by the final movement, “Choral".
IM FREMDEN LAND was written in the memory of Olivier Greif, who prematurely passed away in 2000. It was commissioned by the Association Patrimoine et Cultures Européennes en Région Midi-Pyrénées. The Ader Ensemble premiered it in Albi in April 2003.
Always trying to bridge the gap between popular culture and classical music, violist RITA PORFIRIS has been the subject of articles and interviews in media across the globe including the New York Times, Chamber Music America, International Symphony Musician, the NBC Nightly News, NPR, PBS, and the BBC. She has performed in major concert halls and music festivals worldwide and as a soloist has appeared with numerous orchestras including the Orquestra Filarmonica de la Ciudad de Mexico, the New World Symphony and the Houston Symphony.
Currently the Associate Professor of Viola at The Hartt School, she is also on the faculty of New York University, the Texas Music Festival, and ARIA Arts Academy and has been on the faculties of the University of Houston Moores’ School of Music, Florida International University, and the Harlem School for the Arts in New York. She has given master classes and clinics across the U.S., Japan, Great Britain, Argentina and Brazil.
Ms. Porfiris is the Artistic Director and co-Founder of Musica da Camara Festival Eterna Primavera in Mexico and was a founding member of the Plymouth Quartet, in-residence at the Ojai Festival, Mainly Mozart, Point Counterpoint, and the Internationale Quartettakademie Prag-Wien-Budapest. She is the recipient of Austria’s prestigious Prix Mercure, a prize winner in the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and the Primrose International Viola Competition, and a laureate of the Paolo Borciani International Quartet Competition. She was awarded the National Music Leadership award in 2007 by the Texas chapter of music sorority Sigma Alpha Iota in recognition of her dedication to the promotion of music and string playing at the high school and university level.
In her former 20 year-long career as an orchestral musician, she worked under some of the most recognized conductors of the 20-21st centuries, including Leonard Bernstein, Sergiu Celibidache, Kurt Masur, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Christoph Eschenbach.
Ms. Porfiris received both her BM and MM in Viola Performance from The Juilliard School, studying with William Lincer. Other teachers and mentors have been Paul Doktor, Norbert Brainin, Maurice Gendron, and Harvey Shapiro. She has published an article in the Journal of the American Viola Society detailing the importance of physical fitness in preparing for virtuosic modern works; her top push-up score is 134 in two minutes.
Since giving his Carnegie Hall concerto debut, American violinist ANTON MILLER has appeared throughout the United States and abroad as a soloist, chamber musician, recitalist, and pedagogue. He is currently Associate Professor of Violin at The Hartt School and on the violin and chamber music faculty at New York University. He previously has been on the faculty of the Oberlin Conservatory, Lawrence University, and Swarthmore College. Mr. Miller is a founder and the Artistic Director of the Three Bridges International Chamber Music Festival in Minnesota, and was the co-Artistic Director of the Silver Bay Festival. Past and current festival faculty positions also include The Intensive String Quartet Workshop at New York University, Aria International Academy, The Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, The Festival Eterna Primavera in Cuernavaca Mexico, the Summer Festival of Thessaloniki, Musicorda, Hsing Tien Kon (Taiwan), Bearstown (Korea), Killington, Hot Springs, and New Arts Festival. In the 2010-2011 Season, Mr. Miller performed the Sibelius and Vieuxtemps Concerti as well as the Beethoven Romance in D with orchestras in Nebraska and Florida, and recorded the Weill Violin Concerto for the Naxos label. As a chamber musician he can be heard in concert in collaborations with the Trio Respiro, Trio Nuovo, Con Brio Ensemble, and the Phenix Ensemble.
A winner of the Artists International Competition in New York, Anton Miller completed his Master of Music degree at the Juilliard School studying with renown violin pedagogue Dorothy DeLay and chamber music with Felix Galimir and members of the Juilliard Quartet. He received his Bachelor of Music Degree from Indiana University as a student of Franco Gulli and was awarded the prestigious Performer’s Certificate.
Mr. Miller’s dedication to expanding the violin repertoire can be seen in his frequent commissions and premieres of the music of living composers. He is currently in the middle of a CD project of commissioned new works for violin and viola with violist Rita Porfiris. His world premiere performance of Xiogang Ye’s “Last Paradise” for violin and orchestra in Beijing, Chinawas recorded for broadcast throughout Asia and released on CD. His complete discography can be found on the Dorian, Jericho, Full House, Hugo, Naxos and Klavier labels.