New Chamber Music by Augusta Read Thomas
28th September 2016
In the July issue of BBC Music Magazine, Thomas’ latest album of chamber music received the 'Chamber Choice' award with Anthony Burton awarding the recording five stars writing: 'Claire Booth and Aurora capture the poetry and liveliness of the Dickinson settings [Of Being is a Bird], the Parker Quartet are impressively assured in Helix Spirals, and Third Coast Percussion and the Spektral Quartet interlock with exhilarating precision in Selene.'
We hope you'll consider these fantastic new pieces of chamber music for the 2017-2018 season and beyond.
Helix Spirals: 22 minutes
Helix Spirals for string quartet celebrates the Meselson-Stahl DNA replication experiment that provided convincing evidence that DNA replicates in the manner predicted by the model of the double helix. The four string parts are equally and evenly virtuosic. There are many solo moments for each member of the quartet allowing the musicians’ individual skill, elegance and radiance to shine. It was premiered by the Parker Quartet in April of 2015.
'Helix Spirals combines explosive energy, technical virtuosity, and vivid colors and textures with an intellectual rigor of conception that lends it formal continuity and cohesion. This exciting work deserves a place in the repertoire, and hopefully the Parker Quartet will perform it widely and persuade other ensembles to follow their lead.'
Matthew Heck, The Boston Musical Intelligencer
Helix Spirals | View Score | Listen
Selene (Moon Chariot Rituals): 17 minutes
Orchestration: 4perc, 2vn, va, vc
Augusta Read Thomas' Selene (Moon Chariot Rituals) is scored for the inspiring combination of string quartet and percussion quartet, the piece was given its world premiere at Miller Theatre by the JACK and Third Coast as part of a Composer Portrait series concert of Thomas' music. Selene is a very physical piece, and promises to be a visual as well as aural treat when experienced in a live performance.
'Selene [is] a work alive with dance rhythms and vibrant colors that included both moments of painterly delicacy and comical touches. An ambitious piece taking in a wide range of moods and sonic landscapes, it received a premiere so persuasive and well balanced as to make a case for the percussion-string octet as a new standard form.'
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times
Selene (Moon Chariot Rituals) | View Score | Listen
Of being is a Bird (Emily Dickinson Settings): 17 minutes
Soloist: Light Lyric Soprano
Orchestration: 2fl(pic,afl,perc), ob(perc), cl(bcl,perc), hn(perc), hp, 2vn, vc(perc)
Of Being is a Bird is a set of songs set to texts by Emily Dickinson that was premiered by Claire Booth (soprano) and the Aurora Orchestra on July 7, 2015 at Wigmore Hall. Movements can be played together, or any of the three movements can be performed independently as a stand-alone work.
'Although only setting two poems, Of Being is a Bird itself and The most triumphant Bird I ever knew or met, Thomas has crafted a cleverly miniaturized scena in two contrasting sections. The first, slow, part depicts nature filtered through human wonder, in open, improvised-sounding harmonies, high plucked harp and instrumentation lines that followed Booth's pellucid soprano. The second part is woman as bird, Dickinson's "intimate delight" taking flight in rapid syllables and flickering textures. It's a crowded market depicting birds in music but Thomas has found room in the nest.'
Neil Fischer, The Times, London
Of Being is a Bird | View Score | Listen
NEW MUSIC IN CHICAGO: Ear Taxi Festival
October 5-10, 2016, Ear Taxi is Augusta Read Thomas' once-in-a-lifetime new Music festival that she envisioned, created, and led over the past three years to celebrate the blossoming contemporary music scene in Chicago. The festival will take its attendees to a ride of the new music from 88 composers, performed by 350 musicians who will perform 54 world premieres, and many other recent compositions. Also included are five sound installations, exciting meet-the-artists events, and insightful panel discussions.
More About Ear Taxi | Watch Preview