Texturen (Rosenberger, Wet Ink) awarded German Record Critics’ Prize

Concert Reviews, News

Katharina Rosenberger’s solo album “Texturen” on hat[now]ART, featuring Wet Ink Ensemble, has been awarded a German Record Critics’ Prize! (Preis der Deutschen Schallplatten Kritik). We spent a week at UCSD in 2011 making the record, which was an awesome experience musically and personally. So glad to see this recognition for Katharina’s excellent work! You can check out the press release on the prize’s website here.


Mivos Review in NY Times

Concert Reviews, News

Mivos performing Lachenmann, as printed in the NY Times, Oct 15, 2012

Mivos got an excellent review in the New York Times for our October 13 concert, which featured works by Lachenmann, Cage, and Rihm.  You can see the review on the NYT website here, full text below.  Thanks to all who came out to see the show!

Architects of Sound, Creating Structures from the Ground UP

Mivos Quartet Performs Compositions by Modernists


One of the real challenges for a composer today is finding a way to structure a piece so that it comes across with a compelling dramatic arc. Things were a little easier back in the days when sonata form, rondo and other such genres were common, though in reality those classical forms provided little more than general layouts.

Today it is not enough for composers to have vivid imaginations and distinctive musical languages. They must channel their ideas into some structure that is often unique to a particular piece. An ingenious example is the composer Helmut Lachenmann’s String Quartet No. 3 (“Grido,” 2002), which received an accomplished and absorbing performance from the Mivos Quartet on Saturday night at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music on West 37th Street. This was the concluding work on a thoughtful program that included Wolfgang Rihm’s “Quartettstudie” (2004) andJohn Cage’s String Quartet in Four Parts (1950).

Mr. Lachenmann, 76, a major German modernist, has been gaining champions among younger American performers and ensembles in recent years. In 2010 he visited New York to take part in a concert of his works at the Miller Theater, part of the Composer Portraits series. The most striking quality of his music comes from the unconventional sounds he draws from instruments.

The Italian word “grido” means shout or cry, and Mr. Lachenmann’s Third Quartet certainly cries out, though mostly in hushed and mysterious ways. Through whole stretches of this 25-minute single-movement score the players produce strangely beautiful sounds — scratches, tappings, grumbles, squeaky hinge creaks — by applying the bow to all parts of their instruments. There are all manner of tremolo effects and eerie harmonics. Who needs electronics when a string quartet can produce such wonderful noises?

Yet for me the real achievement of the piece is its structure. Out of a vocabulary of plinks, plunks and ethereal sonorities, Mr. Lachenmann has built a piece of sweeping narrative power. It begins with high scratching sounds and chords that blur tonal and atonal harmonies, yet sound uncannily precise. During some episodes the instruments slither around as if in a contrapuntal free-for-all, or break into frenetic busyness, or bring time to a standstill through hazy, hovering chords. It was actually difficult to discern the overall structure of the piece while hearing it. But it came across as a monumental entity. I was hooked by the music and the brilliant performance, as was the audience, which whooped and applauded at the end.

The Mivos Quartet, a New York ensemble founded in 2008 that focuses in contemporary music, also excelled in Mr. Rihm’s “Quartettstudie,” which combines modernist techniques with a post-Romantic sensibility as it moves through nine minutes of fitful, unpredictable music.

The components of Cage’s Quartet in Four Parts, a 20-minute piece that explores stillness and quietude, come from a set pool of short motifs, sonorities and modal-sounding chords that appear repeatedly. In their performance the sensitive Mivos players created the contemplative atmosphere this piece demands. It helped that the concert took place in the DiMenna Center’s cozy, wood-paneled Benzaquen Hall, with chairs set up for just 50 people.

NY Times Review of ZS, Wet Ink, et al

Concert Reviews, News

Sam Hillmer of ZS, as printed in the New York Times

It was a great experience playing at 285 Kent last Wednesday among such illustrious folk.  ZS, Hubble, Extra Life, Mick Barr, and Diamond Terrifier all brought inspirational sets to the stage, and it was as always a privilege to play with Wet Ink.

This time, Wet Ink was a quartet comprised of Sam Pluta (electronics), Kate Soper (voice, keyboard), Alex Mincek (sax) and me (violin).  We debuted a gnarly drone piece which we will continue to develop over the next season.  Looking forward to some big Wet Ink events in 2012-13, more info coming soon!

There was a nice NYT review of last week’s show, focussed on the new sound of ZS, check it out! 

You, My Mother in the NY Post!

Concert Reviews, News, Shows

Griffith, Mikos, Modney, Soper as pictured in NY Post

You, My Mother got a terrific review today in the NY Post, “It’s mom-entously original.”  Especially proud of this shout-out:

‘The piece closed with violinist Joshua Modney, who scraped and battered the strings as he stammered a eulogy for “complicated” mothers everywhere: “On the one hand, you wore blue eye shadow and short shorts… on the other hand, you were a human-rights activist.”’

Please read the full review here.

Still *six* more chances to see this show (2/16 – 2/20), please check out my performance calendar or the Two Headed Calf website for details.

You, My Mother is up and running

Concert Reviews, News, Shows

Beth Griffith, Laryssa Husiak, Mike Mikos, Joshua Modney, Mariel Roberts

Very excited to be joining Yarn/Wire (+ Mariel Roberts, cello) and Theater of the Two Headed Calf for a premiere run of operas by Rick Burkhardt and Brendan Connelly.  The show is up this week through Feb 20, please see my performance calendar or click here for details.  We already got some nice feedback from the Village Voice after opening night.

I’m especially excited to be taking a spoken text + violin solo by Rick Burkhardt up and about with the actors on stage (pictured above).

This is captivating new work, I’m really looking forward to our remaining performances!

Wet Ink in the New York Times

Concert Reviews, News

Soper and Modney perform "Cipher"

Wet Ink got a nice review in the New York Times for our recent concert as part of Issue Project Room’s Gaudeamus Muziekweek.  I was fortunate to perform some great new works by Kate Soper, Ted Hearne, and Chris Trapani.  A short excerpt is shown below.  Please click here to see the full review.

“Another of the ensemble’s composer-performers, Kate Soper, sang her own “cipher,” an exotic score in which her vocal settings of text fragments from Wittgenstein, Freud, Jenny Holzer, Michael Drayton and Sara Teasdale closely matched, in timbre and gesture, a brash violin line played energetically by Joshua Modney. Sometimes Ms. Soper ran a hand along the fingerboard.”

Concert Review: Wet Ink @ FeNAM

Concert Reviews, News, Shows

Wet Ink Septet

Wet Ink got a nice review in the San Francisco Classical Voice for our concert at the Festival of New American Music at Sacramento State University. Here are the highlights:

“No group was more bracingly thought-provoking and expansive than the Wet Ink Ensemble. These seven New York musicians/composers are fearless in testing the limitations of what instruments or musical forms can be. Best of all, they don’t shy away from integrating the spoken word as a tasty and dramatic counterpoint to the music. That played out powerfully in the unnerving but entrancing two movements from Voices From the Killing Jar, written by vocalist Kate Soper. Here hypnotic music was defined by start and stop rhythms punctuated by Soper’s sung text and finger-caress of a cymbal. In one of the movements the text was an incantation mining the Iphigenia tale, wherein the words exclaim Clytemnestra’s wish for bloodshed.  Later, sax player Alex Mincek’s Nucleus bloomed in a set of short movements in which saxophone and drum interchanged musically stark exclamations.”

For the full review, please click here.