Coming up this Thursday at Leonard Nimoy Symphony Space (7:30PM), the Ying Quartet performs a program conceived and curated by Tod Machover, including his own premiere by him. This addresses the fact that new works by composers are often presented along with other works that may or may note relate, and this can frequently deter the audience from really understanding and absorbing a new piece.

In this program Tod Machover put his own imprint on the other works performed, and even composed interludes between those pieces. It is not a technology-oriented program as he has done in the past, but it includes both purely acoustic and amplified/enhanced sounds. I asked Tod to provide some additional information on this unusual venue, and here are his notes.

“In addition to “…but not simpler…”, we’ll be doing:
Beethoven: Movements 1 and 4 from String Quartet Op.135 in F Major
Bach: Chorale and Chorale Prelude, “O Mensch Bewein dein Sünde
Gross” (my transcriptions)
Carter: Two Fragments for String Quartet (1994 and 1999)
Cage: “Quietly Flowing Along” from String Quartet in Four Parts (1949)
Byrd: “Agnus Dei” from Mass in Four Parts (my transcription)
Lennon/McCartney: “A Day in the Life” (my transcription)
Also, I have created original “interludes” that will connect each
group of pieces and tie the program together.

Since the Ying wanted to tour with this piece freely, I decided to compose it without
requiring any electronics; it is – indeed – purely acoustic (although it will be amplified and spatialized on January 5th). My own take on “Life Music” was to reflect on how to find coherence and calm amidst the increasing fragmentation and velocity of modern life; that in turn caused me to think about how to keep up and deal with reality without either getting sucked into it’s vortex nor simply tuning it out in peaceful denial. The kind of balance that I imagine is – to me – what the piece sounds like; that’s why I picked the title from Einstein’s famous quote: “You should always make things as simple as possible…. but not simpler.”

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