The Momenta Quartet to bring Tan Dun’s “Ghost Opera” to Simon’s Rock, Saturday, February 28 at 8 pm in the McConnell Auditorium of the Daniel Arts Center

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Momenta Quartet
Momenta Quartet


Dear Music Loving Friends

One of the most exciting programs I have had the opportunity to present will take place in a little over two weeks. The Momenta Quartet is returning after having played a very stimulating, provocative program a year ago November. This time they are joined by pipa-player Zhou Ye to perform Tan Dun’s theatrical, ritualistic “Ghost Opera.” They will preface that intriguing work with Ives’ equally unconventional (and provocative!) String Quartet no. 2. This is an adventurous program that at the same time is sure to have broad appeal, and offers something that you would not otherwise encounter north of Manhattan.

In view of the special nature of this program, I am attaching the press release as well as the poster. It only hints at the deep backgrounds to each of these innovative works.

And don’t forget the pre-concert conversation. Here are the details:

The Momenta Quartet Brings “Ghost Opera” to Simon’s Rock

The adventurous Momenta Quartet will make a return appearance at Bard College at Simon’s Rock’s South Berkshire Concerts on Saturday, February 28 at 8:00 p.m. in the McConnell Auditorium of the Daniel Arts Center. A pre-concert conversation with the performers in the Liebowitz Black Box Theater at 6:45 pm will give concertgoers the opportunity to hear a discussion of the works beforehand.

The program will include the Second String Quartet of Charles Ives followed by “Ghost Opera,” a theatrical work for quartet and pipa, a Chinese lute, composed by Tan Dun, perhaps China’s best known living composer. The quartet will be joined in this performance by pipa virtuoso Zhou Yi.

Praised by the Washington Post for providing “an extraordinary musical experience” and by the New York Times for its “diligence, curiosity and excellence,” the Momenta Quartet is celebrated for its innovative programming, juxtaposing contemporary works from widely divergent aesthetics with great music from the past. Momenta has premiered over 80 works and collaborated with over 100 living composers while maintaining a deep commitment to the classical canon. The New Yorker writer Alex Ross praised the quartet: “few American players assume Haydn’s idiom with such ease.”

As a concert soloist, Zhou Yi has toured Europe, Asia and North America. Her performances include Young People’s Concert with the New York Philharmonic, Tan Dun’s Concerto for Pipa and String Orchestra at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig Germany, Bun-Ching Lam’s Pipa Concerto “Song of the Pipa” with the New York Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, and “Sisters of the Grassland” with the Ohio Youngstown Symphony Orchestra.

Tan Dun won an Academy Award for his score to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and his opera The First Emperor was performed at the Metropolitan Opera. “Ghost Opera” is a five-movement work for string quartet and pipa with water, metal, stones, and paper. The composer describes this work as a reflection on human spirituality, which is too often buried in the bombardment of urban culture and the rapid advances of technology. It is a cross-temporal, cross-cultural, and cross-media dialogue that touches on the past, present, future, and the eternal; employs elements from Chinese, Tibetan, English, and American cultures; and combines performance traditions of the European classical concert, Chinese shadow puppet theater, visual art installations, folk music, dramatic theater, and shamanistic ritual.

The concert is open to the public with a suggested donation of $10. For more information call 413-528-7212.

About Michael Miller

Michael Miller, Editor and Publisher of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review, an International Journal for the Arts, was trained as a classicist and art historian at Harvard and Oxford, worked in the art world for many years as a curator and dealer, and contributed reviews and articles to Bostonia, Master Drawings, Drawing, Threshold, and North American Opera Journal, as well as numerous articles for scholarly and popular periodicals. He has taught courses in classics, the English language, and art history at Oberlin, Rutgers, New York University, the New School, and Williams. Currently, when he is not at work on The Berkshire Review and New York Arts, he writes fiction, pursues photography, and publishes scholarly work. In 2011 he contributed an introductory essay to Leonard Freed: The Italians / exh. cat. Io Amo L’Italia, exhibition at Le Stelline, Milan, Il Museo di Roma a Trastevere, etc. and wrote the revised the section on American opera houses in The Grove Dictionary of American Music. He is currently at work on a libretto for a new opera by Lewis Spratlan, Midi, an adaptation of Euripides’ Medea set in the French West Indies, ca. 1930.

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