2022 Event – The Carducci Quartet
Friday 23 September 2022
THE CARDUCCI QUARTET
7.30pm, Cardiff University Concert Hall
“In conversation with John Luther Adams”
We are delighted that Festival Featured Composer John Luther Adams will join us for a live chat, with Zoom. hosted by Steph Power. This once in a lifetime opportunity will take place at 18.45 in the Concert Hall and is free to all ticket holders.
John Luther Adams
Lines made by Walking (European Premiere)
John Luther Adams
For John Luther Adams, music is a lifelong search for home—an invitation to slow down, pay attention, and remember our place within the larger community of life on earth. Living for almost 40 years in northern Alaska, JLA discovered a unique musical world grounded in space, stillness, and elemental forces. In the 1970s and into the ’80s, he worked full time as an environmental activist.
But the time came when he felt compelled to dedicate himself entirely to music. He made this choice with the belief that, ultimately, music can do more than politics to change the world. Since that time, he has become one of the most widely admired composers in the world, receiving the Pulitzer Prize, a Grammy Award, and many other honors. In works such as Become Ocean, In the White Silence, and Canticles of the Holy Wind, Adams brings the sense of wonder that we feel outdoors into the concert hall. And in outdoor works such as Inuksuit and Sila: The Breath of the World, he employs music as a way to reclaim our connections with place, wherever we may be.
A deep concern for the state of the earth and the future of humanity drives Adams to continue composing. As he puts it: “If we can imagine a culture and a society in which we each feel more deeply responsible for our own place in the world, then we just may be able to bring that culture and that society into being.”
Since leaving Alaska, JLA and his wife Cynthia have made their home in the deserts of Mexico, Chile, and the southwestern United States
Lines made by walking
Of tonight’s work, John writes:
I’ve always been a walker. For much of my life I walked the mountains and tundra of Alaska. More recently it’s been the Mexican desert, the altiplano, quebradas, and mountain ridges of Chile, and the hills and canyons of Montana. Making my way across these landscapes at three miles an hour, I began to imagine music coming directly out of the contours of the land. I began work on my fifth string quartet, Lines Made by Walking (2019), by composing three expansive harmonic fields made up of tempo canons with five, six, and seven independent layers. (This is a technique I’ve used for years, in which a single melodic line is superimposed on itself at different speeds.) Once I’d composed these fields, I traced pathways across them. As I did this, each instrument of the quartet acquired a unique profile, transforming the strict imitative counterpoint of the tempo canons into intricately varied textures. In the mornings, in my studio, I would search for the most fluid and beautiful routes across my musical landscapes. In the afternoons, on my walks, I’d follow the contours of the land, along old tracks and animal trails or watersheds and ridgelines. In the process I discovered something approaching a true multi-voice polyphony – not so much through my fingers on the piano keyboard as through my feet, walking across open ground.
The Vale of Glamorgan Festival is honoured to present the European Premiere of Lines made by Walking. This is an intimate yet powerful three-movement piece, and perhaps Adams’s most personal work of the past few years. It is music that is ever in motion, ever ambling across the landscape, ever altering its perspective before the listener.
I. Up the Mountain
II. Along the Ridges
III. Down the Mountain
Huw Watkins was born in Wales in 1976 and studied piano with Peter Lawson at Chetham’s School of Music and composition with Robin Holloway, Alexander Goehr and Julian Anderson at Cambridge and the Royal College of Music. In 2001 he was awarded the Constant and Kit Lambert Junior Fellowship at the Royal College of Music, where he later taught composition. He currently teaches composition at the Royal Academy of Music.
In 2001 he was awarded the Constant and Kit Lambert Junior Fellowship at the Royal College of Music, where he later taught composition. He currently teaches composition at the Royal Academy of Music. Watkins has written concertos for a number of high-profile soloists, including the widely acclaimed Violin Concerto (2010) for Alina Abragimova, premiered by BBC Symphony Orchestra with Edward Gardner. London Symphony Orchestra has commissioned two concertos: London Concerto (2005) and the Flute Concerto (2013) for Adam Walker, premiered under Daniel Harding in 2014. His longstanding relationship with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales has resulted in a number of works, including a Piano Concerto (2001-5) premiered in 2002 with the composer at the piano, and a Double Concerto (2004-5) premiered by Philip Dukes (viola) and Josephine Knight (cello).
As Composer in Association, Watkins wrote the Cello Concerto (2016) for his brother Paul Watkins, premiered at the BBC Proms under Thomas Søndergård, Spring (2017) for orchestra premiered with Ryan Wigglesworth, and The Moon for chorus and orchestra, which premieres at the 2019 Proms. In 2017, the Hallé Orchestra commissioned Watkins’ Symphony, premiered under Music Director Sir Mark Elder. 2020 began with the world premiere of Dawning for Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
Huw Watkins’ String Quartet was commissioned by Manchester Chamber Concerts Society in 2013.
A 15 minute work in three movements, it showcases the range of emotions the composer is able to conjure through music. The piece works from gently ebbing lyrical episodes into virtuosic, impassioned frenzies and back, ending serenely.
This worked was premiered, by the Carducci String Quartet no less, at the Royal Northern College of Music in September 2013.
Tarik Hamilton O’Regan is a London-born composer based in San Francisco. In recent years much of his work has investigated and been influenced by his dual Arab and Irish heritages.
As of the 2021/22 season, Tarik is the newly appointed Composer-in-Residence with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (PBO), where he is also overseeing an ambitious new commissioning initiative. He is also a Visiting Artist at Stanford University. After three albums of his compositions were released last year, this year sees an exciting return to live performances with premieres by the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Chorale and Pacific Symphony, Amy Dickson at the Presteigne Festival, and PBO, among many others.
Tarik’s output, recognized with two GRAMMY® nominations and two British Composer Awards, has been recorded on over 40 albums, and is published exclusively by Novello. He maintains a longstanding commitment to education and service to the arts in general. Most recently, this has been recognized by his election to an Honorary Fellowship of Pembroke College, Oxford, and to the board of Yaddo, one of the oldest artists’ communities in the USA.
Tarik is included in the Washington Post’s annual list of creative artists “changing the classical landscape” for 2022.
Of his work “Gradual”, Tarik writes:
I visited Idaho in early September 2015 as a guest of Boise Chamber Music Series and the Boise State University Department of Music. As I traveled around the southwest of the state, I was struck immediately by the feeling of gentle environmental variation. When I got back to New York City, I realized I had only a record of the visually dramatic and extremely varied highlights. What was missing (and which could never be captured with a camera) was all that lay in-between: the extremely subtle gradations of landscape I’d witnessed. It’s that sense of “the in-between” which stuck in my mind whilst composing the string quartet. Structurally, Gradual, is in 30 very short sections.
A little fragmentary game is played using the sections which are prime numbers (2, 3, 5, 7 etc.) to gradually build up a very simple ostinato idea into a theme in its own right by section 29. The piece as a whole is palindromic, reflecting the grand loop of some 500 miles by which I witnessed southern Idaho; one hears this especially in the non-prime number sections. The angular, gnarly sections towards the middle of the piece hint at the sharp eeriness of Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve, the farthest point from Boise I visited.
The title not only refers to geography, but also to musical ideas. In the prime number sections, the performers – sometimes together, sometimes at staggered intervals – frequently move their bow seamlessly from a natural position to sul ponticello (near the bridge), bringing out higher harmonics (some hear this as a more ‘nasal’ tone) as they do so.
Not only do the two sets of progressions (the prime and non-prime number sections) respond to each other, but the piece as a whole responds to my time visiting Boise and southern Idaho. This key element of ‘response’ is reflected in one other facet of the title, which is also the name of a particular kind of responsorial chant.
The Carducci String Quartet
An internationally renowned Anglo-Irish string quartet based in the UK, the versatile and award-winning Carducci String Quartet has performed everything from brand new quartets, classic works by Haydn, complete Shostakovich cycles, and even partnered with folk-rock icon Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. Founded in 1997, the ensemble has won numerous international competitions, including Concert Artists Guild International Competition USA 2007 and First Prize at Finland’s Kuhmo International Chamber Music Competition 2004. In 2016, they took home a Royal Philharmonic Society Award for their performances of cycles of the complete Shostakovich Quartets. This Shostakovich15 project was accompanied by a recording of quartets 4, 8 and 11 for Signum Classics, to which the quartet added a further volume in spring 2019 (1,2 and 7) acclaimed by Gramophone Magazine for its “…athletic, upfront performances, clear in texture, forthright in tone and bold in articulation.” The quartet has released a bevy of acclaimed recordings on their own label, Carducci Classics, as well as Signum Classics, and their Naxos recordings of Philip Glass Quartets have had over six million plays on Spotify.