Dear Jerry-

Thanks for your kind words earlier this year about the Ben Johnston String Quartet release on New World Records. I am the producer of that disc, and also the 2nd violinist in the Kepler Quartet (so, not an unbiased perspective…)

I am writing you and your readership with a plea, an invitation (however you wish to frame it) to become a part of bringing this great composer’s legacy into broad daylight. We recently received a Copland grant towards finishing the recorded cycle of Ben’s  10 string quartets, but still need to raise significant dollars to make it happen.

Mr. Johnston just turned 80, is in reasonable health, and has just moved to Wisconsin for family reasons-which means that his expertise is now wonderfully available to us. We have have a talented, committed ensemble, schooled in the challenges of Just Intonation, and a stable, supportive label behind the project.

All the pieces are in place to finish this project except for getting past the aforementioned monetary hump.

Wouldn’t it be a healthy scenario  if we could get a grassroots, Howard Dean-like campaign going, and include as many individuals as possible from the new music online community, at modest contributions, in support of this truly great, and largely-overlooked composer late in his career?

Could be worth a small investment for the Karma alone, not to mention the accessibility of this ground-breaking music…

We’re going to attempt it, because we know it’s the right thing to do, not the commercial thing to do—anyone out there with us?

For details, please see

May we all have each other’s support when we need it!

Eric Segnitz
Kepler Quartet

9 Responses to “Do the Just Thing”
  1. eric segnitz says:

    one of there reasons I love this site is that many of the people commenting are very aware of ‘process’, and most instrumentalists are not- I’ll admit that. So the more insightful ideas offered the better, gratefully accepted, and seriously considered.

  2. Steve Layton says:

    From what I know of Galen here, he probably meant it in a good way. Though you know, you might want to sweeten the pot a little… At the very least maybe make each donor of over “X” amount off $$ a “subscriber” as well, entitled to a free copy of the CD when it’s released. That’s a long & respected practice in the art world; no reason not to carry it over into music.

  3. eric segnitz says:

    Concerning the concept of “shilling for a “pet cause”–
    the implication of the the word shill is “swindle”–hopefully that’s not what you meant… and the notion of a pet cause would refer to microtonal music? I can tell you that our quartet (Kepler) is interested in Ben Johnston because he is master composer of amazingly expressive music– just intonation provides him with compelling logic for his work, but we are into the music, not a cause. Even Ben considers microtones to be a byproduct of what he’s after.

  4. “t’s a good one, we’ll look into it- but it might be complicated by the fact that all funds are routed through the Wisconsin Alliance for Composers, which acts as our nonprofit agent for grants etc. An easy alternative is suggested on the website.”

    I should read more carefully! I’ll check the web site.

  5. I just wanted to commend this idea of building a classical music netroots type of fundraising mentality. Political bloggers like Atrios and Kos do this kind of thing all the time, and classical bloggers should do the same. Music Bloggers of the world — pick your pet causes and start shilling!

  6. Jon Szanto says:

    I can see how routing of funds could be an issue, so I don’t have the answer there. We do need to be mindful of the online era we live in, however, and I have a feeling there is at least a small segment of society that would find it both easier donate, and more likely to do so, with a donation button they could click on. Maybe the WAC could set something up for your project. Again, just a thought.

    Good to know Ben is doing OK. I’ve corresponded with him in conjunction with my work with Harry Partch, and I’m pleased you are making progress on the quartets.

  7. eric segnitz says:

    Thanks for the inquiries, I’ll address this to both Jon and David.
    The information on the donations page of our website (highlighted in the letter above) is current- we need to raise around $29,000.00 to complete the project. We’ll be applying to foundations etc. but consider individual support to be very meaningful.As far as the PayPal suggestion , it’s a good one, we’ll look into it- but it might be complicated by the fact that all funds are routed through the Wisconsin Alliance for Composers, which acts as our nonprofit agent for grants etc. An easy alternative is suggested on the website.

  8. Jon Szanto says:

    1. What is the total amount needed at this point?
    2. Why not set up a PayPal account/link on your fundrasing page?

  9. Where’s the web page to donate? 🙂