Quadrants Vol 3
Bruce Babcock composer
Nora Morrow composer
Gary Smart composer
Jonathan Newmark composer
Alastair White composer
Janice Macaulay composer
Beth Mehocic composer
Phelps Dean Witter composer
Joshua Ulrich violin
Andrew Giordano violin
Andrew Krimm viola
Zachary Reaves cello
The works of the eight composers on QUADRANTS 3 display both the broad scope of styles and energies that the string quartet can produce, while also highlighting the individual talents of each artist. The resident ensemble for QUADRANTS 3, Altius Quartet, who take their name from the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger), handles each piece with skill and flair.
The album begins with Bruce Babcock’s The Present Moment. Richly harmonic, the piece is filled with themes that develop and recur like memories changing over time. Nora Morrow presents her uplifting, motivic Rose Moon, sonically emulating the image of a rose blooming with a touch of sentimentality (the piece is also named after her mother). This is followed by Gary Smart’s Three Fantasies, intertwining American jazz, European classical, and African American traditions to create a unique “bluesy” string quartet performance.
Jonathan Newmark’s witty Tom Dooley without the fringe on top, written as a speedwriting exercise, features musical ideas from a couple of popular tunes, while Alastair White’s Two Panels, a brisk, atonal composition, expresses the composer’s desire to overcome the way we perceive time, identity, and authenticity. Janice Macaulay’s Three Pieces for String Quartet creates dynamic, lyrical, and playful interactions among the players, while the dramatic Picasso’s Flight presents a narrative about composer Beth Mehocic’s African Grey parrot, Picasso, and his failed attempts at flying. QUADRANTS 3 concludes with Phelps Dean Witter’s String Quartet No. 4, a piece filled with building emotion and volume — so moving in fact that it is hard to believe the composer came up with this piece on the way to the grocery store.
The QUADRANTS series introduces what’s on the ground floor of new string quartet music. From atonality, dissonance, and brisk, almost violent bowings, to longer, more expressive notes and tender moments of tonality and rich harmonies, the album balances tradition with innovation all while carving a space in the repertoire of modern string quartet music.
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The Colorado-based Altius Quartet has dedicated itself to expanding traditional notions of the string quartet. Members Hannah Kennedy and Andrew Giordano (violins), Allyson Stibbards (viola), and Erin Patterson (cello) are equally at home as performers, mentors, and educators, and strive to fulfill each of those roles at the highest possible level. Altius has received critical acclaim for their recordings, including Fanfare Magazine describing their 2017 release Shostakovich: String Quartets Nos. 7, 8, and 9” as “visceral and wrenching”. Altius was also hailed as “rich” and “captivating” by the renowned music blog I Care If You Listen.
Applauded by Aaron Copland, inspired by Desmond Tutu, and mentored by Hugo Friedhofer and Earle Hagen, Bruce Babcock has spent his working life composing music for the musicians of Los Angeles. Successful in both film and television, and the concert hall, he is known for vibrant, sonorous, expressive pieces that immerse audience and performers alike in an inclusive and exuberant celebration of the musical art.
Nora Essman Morrow
Nora Essman Morrow, born in New York City, has been a musician all her life. As a child Morrow composed songs on the guitar and improvised stories at the piano. She attended the Precollege Division of Manhattan School of Music and The High School of Music and Art in NYC.
Gary Smart’s career has encompassed a wide range of activities as composer, classical and jazz pianist, and teacher. Always a musician with varied interests, he may be the only pianist to have studied with Yale scholar/keyboardist Ralph Kirkpatrick, the great Cuban virtuoso Jorge Bolet, and the master jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. A true American pluralist, Smart composes and improvises music that reflects an abiding interest in Americana, jazz, and world musics, as well as the Western classical tradition.
Composer, pianist, violist, and conductor Jonathan Newmark was born in New York City in 1953 and received his MM in composition from University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in 2015. His teachers at CCM included Joel Hoffman, Douglas Knehans, and Michael Fiday, as well as Jonathan Kolm, Gloria Wilson Swisher, and James McVoy outside of CCM.
Alastair White (b. 1988) is a Scottish composer and writer currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Composition at Goldsmiths, University of London with Roger Redgate. In 2018 he wrote and composed the opera WEAR, an immersive sci-fi which combined contemporary music with high fashion and abstract theater; it was described by Mark Berry as “spellbinding...an opera of rare imagination - and success” and has since been shortlisted for a Scottish Award for New Music.
Janice Macaulay received a doctorate from Cornell University, where she studied composition with Karel Husa and Steven Stucky. Along with her undergraduate degree in English, she also has master’s degrees in both English and music from Brown University. She was Associate Professor at Anne Arundel Community College, and has also taught at Brown University, Cornell University, Wells College, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. From a long-time interest in promoting musical appreciation, she lectured for over 20 years on a wide variety of musical topics for the Road Scholar program at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Beth Mehocic was the Composer-in-Residence, Music Director, and Full-Professor for the Dance Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and wrote over 100 works for orchestra, concert band, chamber music, dance ensembles, theater, and film. Her works have been performed throughout the United States, Japan, China, Korea, and Europe, and she had works performed in several Las Vegas Hotels including The Mirage, Caesar’s Palace, and the Las Vegas Hilton. Several of her works have been recorded for PARMA Recordings.
Phelps Dean Witter
Although born in Wisconsin, “Dean” Witter was raised in Los Angeles CA. His early studies were with Halsey Stevens in composition and Ethel Leginska in piano.