Jupiter String Quartet Gives Virtual Concert presented by
Arizona Friends of Chamber Music Featuring the World Premiere of
Stephen Andrew Taylor’s Chaconne/Labyrinth
Saturday, April 3, 2021
Released beginning at 10am MST and accessible on-demand for 30 days
Free to watch at www.arizonachambermusic.org/videos/jupiter-string-quartet
“Like the planet which inspired their name, the Jupiter String Quartet, or the Jupiters as they are often called, inspire us to grow, expand and take risks.” – Smile Politely
Tucson, AZ – Beginning on Saturday, April 3, 2021, the Jupiter String Quartet is presented by Arizona Friends of Chamber Music in a virtual concert featuring the world premiere of Stephen Andrew Taylor’s Chaconne/Labyrinth. This performance was recorded exclusively for this online event in Smith Memorial Recital Hall at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where the ensemble has been artists-in-residence since 2012, and where Taylor is a professor of Theory and Composition. The program also includes Schubert’s dramatic “Death and the Maiden” String Quartet No. 14 in D Minor. The performance will be accessible for free starting on April 3 at 10am MST on Arizona Friends of Chamber Music’s website and it will be available to watch for 30 days after the initial presentation at www.arizonachambermusic.org/videos/jupiter-string-quartet.
Of his new work, Chaconne/Labyrinth, Taylor explains, “‘Chaconne’ is an old-fashioned word for a repeating chord progression, like the 12-bar blues. Here the wonderful Jupiter Quartet plays a chaconne, but at the same time they are lost in a labyrinth. The chords keep returning, only to point in new directions. This is how I’ve felt the past year: stuck in a loop, but at the same time lost in a maze, desperately seeking the way out. At the center of this maze, like the Minotaur of Greek myth, lies a depiction of the coronavirus that has so profoundly changed our world. After this encounter—marked by strange, percussive sounds—the quartet traces their way, like following Ariadne’s thread, back through the labyrinth.”
Chaconne/Labyrinth was commissioned by Arizona Friends of Chamber Music. AFCM believes that chamber music remains a living art form, and nurtures new music by commissioning works from interesting, accessible composers specifically tailored to great ensembles. The organization’s strong history of past commissions can be found at www.arizonachambermusic.org/commissions.
About the Jupiter String Quartet: The Jupiter is a particularly intimate group, consisting of violinists Nelson Lee and Meg Freivogel, violist Liz Freivogel (Meg’s older sister), and cellist Daniel McDonough (Meg’s husband, Liz’s brother-in-law). Now enjoying their 19th year together, this tight-knit ensemble is firmly established as an important voice in the world of chamber music. The New Yorker writes, “The Jupiter String Quartet, an ensemble of eloquent intensity, has matured into one of the mainstays of the American chamber-music scene.”
The Jupiter has performed in some of the world’s finest halls, including New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, Boston’s Jordan Hall, Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes, Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center and Library of Congress, Austria’s Esterhazy Palace, and Seoul’s Sejong Chamber Hall. Their major music festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival and School, Bowdoin Music Festival, Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, Rockport Music Festival, the Banff Centre, Virginia Arts Festival, Music at Menlo, Maverick Concerts, Caramoor International Music Festival, Lanaudiere Festival, West Cork (Ireland) Chamber Music Festival, Skaneateles Festival, Madeline Island Music Festival, Yellow Barn Festival, Encore Chamber Music Festival, the inaugural Chamber Music Athens, and the Seoul Spring Festival, among others. In addition to their performing career, they have been artists-in-residence at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana since 2012, where they maintain private studios and direct the chamber music program.
Their chamber music honors and awards include the grand prizes in the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition; the Young Concert Artists International auditions in New York City; the Cleveland Quartet Award from Chamber Music America; an Avery Fisher Career Grant; and a grant from the Fromm Foundation. From 2007-2010, they were in residence at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Two.
The Jupiter String Quartet feels a particular connection to the core string quartet repertoire; they have presented the complete Bartok and Beethoven string quartets on numerous occasions. Also strongly committed to new music, they have commissioned works by Syd Hodkinson, Hannah Lash, Dan Visconti, Mark Adamo, Pierre Jalbert, and Kati Agócs.
The quartet’s latest album a collaborative recording with the Jasper String Quartet, was released in February 2021 on Marquis Classics. It features the world premiere of Dan Visconti’s Eternal Breath along with Osvaldo Golijov’s Last Round and Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-flat, Op. 20. Their recent album, Metamorphosis (Marquis Classics, 2020), includes Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 131 and Ligeti’s Quartet No. 1 “Métamorphoses nocturnes.” Other recordings on Marquis include Alchemy with Australian pianist Bernadette Harvey (2019), Shostakovich & Britten (2007), and Mendelssohn & Beethoven (2009). The quartet’s discography also includes releases on Azica Records and Deutsche Grammophon.
The Jupiters place a strong emphasis on developing relationships with future classical music audiences through educational performances in schools and other community centers. They believe that, because of the intensity of its interplay and communication, chamber music is one of the most effective ways of spreading an enthusiasm for “classical” music to new audiences. The quartet has also held numerous masterclasses for young musicians at Northwestern University, Eastman School of Music, the Aspen Music Festival, Encore Chamber Festival, Madeline Island Music Festival, and Peabody Conservatory.
The quartet chose its name because Jupiter was the most prominent planet in the night sky at the time of its formation and the astrological symbol for Jupiter resembles the number four. They are also proud to list among their accomplishments in recent years the addition of seven quartet children: Pablo, Lillian, Clara, Dominic, Felix, Oliver, and Joelle. You may spot some of these miniature Jupiters in the audience or tagging along to rehearsals, along with their grandparent babysitters. For more information, visit www.jupiterquartet.com.
About Stephen Andrew Taylor: Stephen Andrew Taylor composes music that explores boundaries between art and science. His first orchestra commission, Unapproachable Light, inspired by images from the Hubble Space Telescope and the New Testament, was premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in 1996 in Carnegie Hall. Other works include the quartet Quark Shadows, commissioned by the Chicago Symphony; and Seven Memorials, a 30-minute cycle for piano inspired by the work of Maya Lin, featured at Tanglewood in 2006 with pianist Gloria Cheng. The Machine Awakes, a CD of his orchestra, chamber and electronic music, was released in 2010; and Paradises Lost, an opera based on a novella by Ursula K. Le Guin, received its Canadian premiere in 2013, conducted by the composer. In 2015 the New York Times called his piano work Variations Ascending, premiered by Ian Hobson, “persuasive and powerful.” He was a 2014-15 Fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation.
Taylor also works with live electronics in pieces such as Inspiral for contraforte and 4-channel surround sound, premiered by Henry Skolnick in South Korea in 2019; and Ocean of Air (2017) for Detroit Symphony principal trombonist Kenneth Thompkins. He conducts the Illinois Modern Ensemble, and has also appeared with Sinfonia da Camera, the Nouveau Classical Project, and the Arizona Chamber Music Festival. As a theorist, he writes and lectures on African music, data sonification, György Ligeti, Björk and Radiohead. In popular music he has collaborated on concerts and albums with the band Pink Martini, rock singer Storm Large, and cabaret/performance artist Meow Meow.
Born in 1965, he grew up in Illinois and studied at Northwestern and Cornell Universities, and the California Institute of the Arts. His music has won awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Howard Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Conservatoire Américain de Fontainebleau, Composers, Inc., the Debussy Trio, the College Band Directors National Association, the New York State Federation of Music Clubs, the Illinois Arts Council, the American Music Center, and ASCAP. Among his commissions are works for Northwestern University, University of Illinois, the Syracuse Society for New Music, the Jupiter Quartet, the Spoleto Festival, Pink Martini and the Oregon Symphony, the Quad City Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, Quartet New Generation, Piano Spheres, and the American Composers Orchestra. Taylor is Professor of Music at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he lives with his spouse, artist Hua Nian. For more information, visit www.stephenandrewtaylor.net.
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