Peter Schickele composer
Ken Bernshoof composer
Bern Herbolsheimer composer
Janice Giteck composer
St. Helens String Quartet
The intersection of classical music and popular and folk music is where the journey begins for the Seattle-based Saint Helens String Quartet – consisting of Stephen Bryant, violin; Adrianna Hulscher, violin; Michael Lieberman, viola; and Paige Stockley, cello – exploring a sonic vision of American culture presented by four contemporary composers on their debut Navona Records release, AMERICAN DREAMS.
Grammy Award-winning composer Peter Schickele’s five-movement String Quartet No. 1, American Dreams weaves together jazz, Appalachian folk, and waltz structures into a pastoral and Coplandesque work that evokes distant images of rural America. Swing Low by Kenneth Benshoof uses the traditional spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” for its motivic material, creating shifting tones of obscurity and clarity through alternating textures.
Touching on the traditions of Central America, Bern Herbolsheimer’s Botanas uses Mayan melodies to express unique flavors of the Yucatan region of Mexico. In Where Can One Live Safely, Then? In Surrender, Janice Giteck presents an unraveling of Western culture, saying, “Rather than aspiring to greater ‘independence of voices,’ I explore the question, would we now be better off, kinder, healthier, had we remained a more tribal people, less differentiated?”
Giteck’s question encapsulates the beauty and coherence in AMERICAN DREAMS, in which the Saint Helens String Quartet illustrates how independent genres are brought together, undifferentiated, into a portrait of American progress and diversity.