JACK Frontiers

December, 2019
Mannes School of Music at The New School
New York, New York

JACK Frontiers is the vehicle for JACK Quartet to bring distinctive voices that challenge the norms of concert music into conversation with our audiences and celebrate the explosive creativity of today’s composers. Crafted through years of close collaborative relationships and designed to bring new perspectives into the spotlight, JACK Frontiers introduces dynamic creators to our community and expands the notion of what a string quartet can be.

Presented at The New School’s Tischman Auditorium at the Mannes School of Music, where JACK is Quartet in Residence, the inaugural concerts present the culmination of four commissioning projects from artists re-thinking musical structure and crafting resoundingly imaginative musical palates.

Lester St. Louis is a New York City native cellist, composer, and intellectual. St. Louis rethinks how we execute ideas on stage through improvisational strategies, critical research, as well as a deeply humanistic and embodied relationship to sound. His work is commissioned by the Jerome Foundation and American Composer Forum ACF CREATE program, supporting early career artists. This is his first string quartet. JACK and St. Louis have been engaging in readings and collaborative workshops for two years as they edge toward this milestone first novel.

Clara Iannotta has quickly risen to prominence as one of the leading voices her generation in Europe, recognized by the Siemens Foundation and the Hindemith Prize. JACK has maintained a close relationship with Iannotta over the years, and this new work is the third we have collaborated on. Iannotta’s sensitive ear to complex musical sounds that surround us has led her to create new instrumental images in her sonic poetry. Her finely-tuned explorations reveal a new material from which to build an instrumental language.

Tyshawn Sorey is a multi-instrumentalist and composer already legendary for his unspeakable instrumental command, deep embodiment and memorization of the most involved scores, and a singular combination of formalistic structure and improvisation in his compositional work. Commissioned by the Banff Centre for the Arts, his first string quartet explores a shifting harmonic field controlled by the knife’s-edge precision of Sorey’s chess-master mind. In Everything Changes, Nothing Changes, shifting orchestrations and harmonic revelations unfold into a new state of musical thought and mental space for the audience to inhabit and meander.

Catherine Lamb deftly embodies both the musical yogi and the technically-advanced researcher; her sonic meditations cut through the superficial skin of the moment and dive into a new understanding of time. A student of Hindustani Classical Music and the West Coast experimentalism of James Tenney and Michael Pisaro, Lamb explores the interaction of elemental tonal material and the variations in presence between shades and beings in a room. To be present for her durational, meditative works is to have explored a state of being outside our modern onslaught.