sirius quartet

“Versatility and flair with lively improvisations… Driving rhythms and aggressive arpeggios were woven around an elusive cello melody in this engaging score.” — The New York Times

 

“One of the highlights of the festival… each breakout solo seemed as inevitable as it was spontaneous.”

— The Wall Street Journal

 

“For nearly two hours, the group dazzled the packed house with virtuosic, rock-inflected, jazz-grounded, classical-minded polyglot music that was by turns lilting and churning, diaphanous and crushing, placid and rhythmic, soothing and fiery… always compelling and always exhilarating.” — Imperfect Fifths

 

Internationally acclaimed veterans of contemporary music, Sirius Quartet combines exhilarating repertoire with unequalled improvisational fire. These conservatory-trained performer-composers shine with precision, soul and a raw energy rarely witnessed on stage, championing a forward-thinking, genre-defying approach that makes labels like 'New Music' sound tame.

 

Since their debut concert at the original Knitting Factory in New York City, Sirius has played some of the most important venues in the world, including Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, the Beijing Music Festival, the Cologne Music Triennale, Stuttgart Jazz, Musique Actuelle in Canada, the Taichung Jazz Fest – Taiwan's biggest jazz event – and many others.

 

Having premiered works by significant living composers, Sirius continues their long-running commitment to musical innovation with bold, original works by its own members, pushing beyond the conventional vocabulary of string instruments by incorporating popular song forms, extended techniques, gripping improvisations and undeniable, contemporary grooves.

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FUNG CHERN HWEI VIOLIN

Born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Fung Chern Hwei absorbed a large amount of musical information since young in his diverse surroundings: Chinese pop and classical music, Indian Bollywood tunes, Malay dance music, and western classical music.  He insisted on learning the violin at around 4 years old, but couldn’t find a teacher until he was 8. Since then Chern Hwei thrust himself into the world of violin and has never looked back. Shortly after starting violin lessons, Chern Hwei found himself imitating electric guitar and saxophone sounds on his violin.  In his high school years, he broke the school’s ban on rock music and electric instruments by sneaking a heavy metal band on stage during a charity night.  Seeds were being sown for a musical path far from that of the typical classical violinist.

 

Upon finishing graduate school in New York, Chern Hwei chose to stay on as a freelance musician, playing different genres of music, absorbing even more musical languages and means of expression. Styles that he plays frequently include western classical, jazz, middle-eastern belly dance music, historically-informed baroque, rock, and hip hop. He recently self-released his debut album, “From The Heart”. Artists that he has been fortunate enough to work with include Uri Caine, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Stanley Clarke, Tony Bennett, Bobby McFerrin, Steve Wilson, Elliot Sharp, Antonio Sanchez, and composer Mikael Karlsson, among others.

 

GREGOR HUEBNER VIOLIN

Gregor Huebner is an award-winning, Grammy -nominated composer and violinist, celebrated by audiences and critics alike for his visionary work across genres.  His music has been described by The New York City Jazz Record as “challenging and vivid… seamlessly incorporat[ing] chamber elements with Avant Garde Jazz,” while All About Jazz describes him as “a virtuoso with broad experience in large and small classical ensembles.” Huebner’s recent El Violin Latino, an album exploring the role of the violin in traditional Latin American music, was praised by The Wall Street Journal as “by turns sexy and sly, impassioned and dreamy, his collection of well-known tunes, unexpected arrangements and original compositions brings together far-flung members of the fiddle diaspora.”

 

As a composer, Huebner’s unique musical voice variously integrates improvisation, experimental notation, traditional counterpoint, pop song structures, post-tonal gestures and innovative performance techniques within formal compositional frameworks.  Recent commissions include “Clockwork Interrupted,” an orchestral work premiered by the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and SWR Big Band in July 2014; “Six Songs of Innocence,” a lyrical setting of poems by William Blake premiered by Sirius Quartet and Collegium Iuvenum Stuttgart Boys Choir in June 2014; A violin and a piano concerto premiered by the WDR in Cologne in 2016 and “Ich rufe zu Gott” for choir and violin solo premiered and recorded by Ida Bieler and the Orpheus Vokalensemble in 2016.  Huebner has also been commissioned by the International Bach Academy in Stuttgart, the State Theater of Fürth and the State Academy of Music Ochsenhausen, among many others. His works have been premiered by major ensembles such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Nova Philharmonic Orchestra and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. Huebner has been a longstanding member of Sirius Quartet for over a decade.

 

RON LAWRENCE VIOLa

From John Adams to John Zorn, violist Ron Lawrence has performed and recorded with many of new music’s most exciting personalities.  Besides being a founding member of the Sirius Quartet, he has performed extensively with Cuartetango, Quartet Indigo, the Soldier String Quartet and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.  Other collaborators include Anthony Braxton, John Blake, Bob Beldon, Anthony Davis, Regina Carter, Elliott Sharp, James Blood Ulmer,  Cassandra Wilson, John Cale, and Eumir Deodato.  Further uptown, he has recorded with Kathleen Battle, Robert Craft, John Cage, and Andre Previn.

 

One of Ron’s most exciting projects was a journey to Alaska to record John Luther Adams’ multi-media spectacular, Earth and the Great Weather –A Sonic Geography of the Arctic.  Despite a rigorous performance schedule, he was able to break away each evening to cross-country ski under the Northern Lights.

 

JEREMY HARMAN Cello

Boston-based cellist, guitarist, composer and songwriter Jeremy Harman is always exploring shifting musical terrain with a continual desire to evolve as both an artist and a person.  Drawing from a diverse pool of stylistic influences including contemporary classical, modern jazz, folk, metal/hardcore, post-rock, downtempo electronic, and free improvisation, his musical path has taken him across the globe in venues ranging from concert halls and art galleries to carnivals, street corners, bars, clubs and d.i.y. house shows.

 

Jeremy is the cellist for the NYC-based Sirius Quartet who have spent the past few years playing shows abroad in Germany, Switzerland, Taiwan and Malaysia and closer to home at Merkin Hall, Shapeshifter Lab, The Lily Pad, The Jazz Gallery, The Stone, The Issue Project Room and other venues for forward-thinking music and art. Recent collaborators include Tracy Silverman, Uri Caine, Rufus Reid, John Escreet, Linda Oh, Billy Martin, Peter Stan, Ivo Perelman, and Matthew Shipp.  He also appears frequently with instrumental chamber music/indie-rock alchemists Cordis, including a spot on NPR's Mountainstage and shows throughout the Eastern US.

 

As a freelance cellist, Jeremy has been fortunate to cross paths and share the stage with an extremely wide range of artists including Quincy Jones, John Williams, Pinchas Zuckerman, Bobby McFerrin, Tony Bennett, Sir Elton John, Sting, Lady Gaga, DeVotchKa, Debbie Harry, Mark Ribot, Mary J Blige, and Peter Gabriel in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, House of Blues Boston, Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, the Kodak Theatre, Walt Disney Hall, and The Newport Jazz Festival.

 

 

Composers

Bruce Babcock

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.

 

Babcock holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in music composition from California State University, Northridge. While at CSUN, Bruce’s Impasse was performed for Aaron Copland during his 1975 residency. Copland’s comments on the piece, recorded for posterity, include “an impression of musicality which is very pleasant, indeed...a convincing sense of an overall mood...knows what he wants...sure of what he’s doing.” Babcock’s mentors in Hollywood included Hugo Friedhofer, Paul Glass, and Earle Hagen. He won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music Composition for a Series in 1992, one of eight total Emmy nominations in a ten-year period, as well as eight TV/Film awards from BMI.

 

In the concert music world, Babcock’s Pacific Serenades Trio, for clarinet, viola and piano, was commissioned by Mark Carlson’s Pacific Serenades series. He was chosen by Artistic Director Daniel Kepl to be composer in residence at the 2005 Santa Barbara Chamber Music Festival. The Donald Brinegar Singers premiered Babcock’s Night Songs, on poems of Sara Teasdale, in 2006.

 

SpringScape was the winning piece in the Debussy Trio 2006 Composition Competition. This Is What I Know: Four Poems of Dorothy Parker, commissioned by UCLA Professor of Voice Juliana Gondek, was one of the winners in the 2011 Boston Metro Opera Contemporary American Festival Competition, and was performed in Boston in conjunction with “Opera Conference America 2011.”

 

All Unto Me, inspired by and dedicated to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was performed with the Archbishop in attendance in 2011. Be Still, for a cappella choir, received its European premiere in November 2013 by the Haga Motettkör of Göteborg, Sweden, Mikael Carlsson, Music Director, and its New York City premiere in 2016 from The Antioch Ensemble.

 

Bruce’s first Navona album, TIME, STILL, was released in 2015. Eleven Los Angeles musicians are featured in this collection of chamber, vocal, and choral music.

 

Event Horizon, an orchestral piece with video compiled from images of the NASA-Hubble Space Telescope, was premiered by the Space Coast Symphony in 2017. It was recorded by the Wembley Players in London, with the composer conducting, and was released on the Navona album SPARKS in 2016.

 

Give Me Your Stars, commissioned by Grammy-winning soprano Hila Plitmann, premiered at Mason Home Concerts March 17, 2018. Imagined/Remembered, a sonata for cello and piano, appears on the 2018 Navona album MOTO BELLO, performed by cellist Ovidiu Marinescu and pianist Anna Kislitsyna. They also performed Imagined/Remembered at Carnegie Hall in May of 2018, and on tour in China in the spring of 2019.

 

Be Still was included in the July 2019 Navona EVOLUTIONARY SPIRITS album by the multiple-Grammy-winning choir The Crossing. Another 2019 Navona album, QUADRANTS VOL. 3, included The Present Moment, performed by the Altius Quartet.

 

In both 2018 and 2019 Bruce was commissioned to compose works for the Mount Wilson Observatory Concerts in the Dome series.

 

Navona releases in 2020 with Bruce's music include ETEREO, with flutist Lindsey Goodman performing Soliloquy, PLAYING ON THE EDGE VOL. 2, with the Sirius Quartet performing Watcher of the Sky, and THROUGH GLASS, featuring Grammy and Emmy-winning pianist Gloria Cheng performing Alternative Facts. musicbybrucebabcock.com

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photo: Cam Sanders

 

 

dayton kinney

Dayton Kinney creates music that has won and has been recognized in numerous national and international competitions. Inspired by Paul Hindemith’s A Composer’s World, Dayton’s music concentrates on the ambiguous idea of “transforming the circle… into a spiral.” Through this notion, Dayton explores and creates in order to discover the limits of ambiguity in thematic material, accessibility, harmony, and form with the goal of striking a balance between the certainty of a circle and the ambiguity of a spiral. Each work unfolds either through a narrative established at the outset, or through a suggested stream-of-consciousness arrangement of materials. Through this unfolding, the eclectic musical material is often organized in delineated sections or more dreamlike, kaleidoscopic arrangements.

 

Dayton’s music has been commissioned and performed in the U.S. and abroad with notable performances that have included ICE, the Grey Matter Ensemble, the Juventas New Music Ensemble, Deviant Septet, HYPERCUBE, F-Plus, SOSDuo, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the Zodiac Trio, The Grey Matter Ensemble, Frisson Duo, Space City Performing Arts Ensemble, and at Pittsburgh Opera.

 

Dayton is currently a doctoral candidate for a Ph.D. in Music - Composition at Duke University. Dayton earned her Master of Music in Composition at Carnegie Mellon University and was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda. Dayton also holds a Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laude with Honors in Music from Smith College. Her teachers have included John Supko, Leonardo Balada, Melinda Wagner, Salvatore Macchia, and Alla Elana Cohen.  daytonkinney.com

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photo: Louis J. Gualtieri

Roger Fong

Since he first encountered a piano, Roger does not just play on it but branches out himself into different music activities.

 

He got an ATCL, an LMusTCL and an MA degree of Music from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He has been singing, performing, arranging and conducting in various music groups, as well as taking part in different types of administrative works in different groups, organizing various art activities.  Organizations include the Chinese University of Hong Kong Chorus, Hong Kong Youth Choir, Methodist Church Hong Kong, Hong Kong Schools Music and Speech Association, Die Konzertisten, SingFest etc.

 

For composition, beside his dedication on pop music which was prized before, he, since his postgraduate days, became a member of the Hong Kong Composers’ Guild. His Glimpses on Ourselves was premiered by the Hong Kong Wind Kamerata, and other works was chosen by the Guild for Match Making Concert 2018 and Hong Kong Contemporary Music Festival 2018. His works were performed by renowned ensemble such as the Hong Kong Children Choir and Brno Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Daniel Burwasser

Daniel Burwasser, a composer, percussionist and teacher, was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Burwasser grew up in a musical family. He began piano lessons at age five, and at eleven, he turned his interests to percussion instruments, which he began studying both in school and privately. Burwasser shifted his focus from performance to composition while working on his Bachelor of Music in percussion performance at Temple University. After graduating from Temple University, he went on to receive a Master of Arts degree in theory and composition from Rutgers University, where he studied with Charles Wuorinen, Robert Moevs, and Noel DaCosta . Burwasser went on to complete his Ph.D. in composition from the Graduate School of the City University of New York where he studied with David Olan and David Del Tredici.

 

Burwasser has taught at Columbia Teacher’s College, New York City College of Technology, and Queens College.  He currently teaches at Hunter College CUNY. Burwasser is also the Principal Director of the New York All-City Jazz Ensemble. He has also served as a panelist for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, and the Delaware Division of the Arts.

 

Burwasser’s music has been described as highly communicative, emotionally charged, actively engaging, refreshingly lyrical, and displaying a fine sense of balance and proportion. His work has been performed throughout the U.S., as well as in South Korea, Armenia, Slovakia, and Russia and combines classical traditions with jazzy harmonies and lively rhythms. He has composed numerous soundtracks for children's stories and arranged for television. Burwasser has been the recipient of numerous ASCAP composer awards in addition to grants from The American Music Center and Meet the Composer. His orchestral music has been performed and recorded by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Concordia Orchestra, and the Seattle Symphony. He has received commissions from Downtown Music Productions and electric violist, Martha Mooke.  Burwasser’s work Flux for string orchestra and Catching Fireflies for orchestra are both released on Navona Records. Whirlwind for woodwind quintet was also recently released on Navona. Burwasser’s music is published by Imagine Music and Ensemble Publications. danielburwasser.com

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John Summers

John Summers took up the guitar at age 16, and a few years later, after graduating through playing clubs and other venues, joined a touring children’s theatre company as composer, musical director and performer, travelling extensively throughout the eastern states of Australia.

 

This was followed by session work with ABC radio shows, and culminating in a 13-part TV series for ABC television.

 

He then became composer-in-residence for the North Queensland Regional Arts association, teaching composition and music theory.

 

While constantly supplementing his income with music teaching (in schools, jails, universities and music shops), he secured extra work as a musician in various theatre productions, including two at the Sydney Opera House.

 

He then spent four years in Cambridge, England, making a living as an audio technician, while co- founding a classical guitar society in the region.

 

On returning to Australia, he secured a job as a musical instrument technician with the Buddy Holly show, touring for five years throughout Australia and New Zealand.

 

After settling down in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, he constructed a recording studio which specialised in classical and acoustic music. Meanwhile, he continues to add to his catalogue of instrumental compositions (string quartets, guitar solos, duets and trios, guitar and oboe and solo violin), works for string orchestra and chamber orchestra, and many vocal pieces (acapella, and accompanied by string quartet, wind trio, guitar and clarinet, etc.)

 

The string quartet featured on Playing on the Edge 2 was completed in 2018, and is characterised by a first movement where melody and structure are shared equally by all the players; a second movement of stark contrast where the 1st violin solos over an ostinato figure shared by various combinations of the other instruments, and a third movement which talks constantly between the players.

 

 

Gregory J. Harris

For Gregory Harris, the process of becoming a composer was one of absorption. By opening himself to soak up an unbounded array of sounds, influences, and genres -- a process he began formally at age 6, with piano lessons at his grandfather’s bench -- he has lived a life of near-constant immersion in music.

 

His childhood years of youth orchestras, chamber music and piano recitals led next to writing music for some of the small ensembles he played with. The first time he heard one of those ensembles play a piece of his music, the experience supercharged his passion for composition.

 

Harris’ young adult years were lived unrolling his sleeping bag at music festivals, busking with a saxophone and boom box in London’s subways where he earned enough to make a spare-change living, and traveling in a van as the keyboardist for a Top-40 cover band called Too Cool For School on a tour of the finest dive bars of California, Arizona, and Utah. “Freebird” and “Don’t Stop Believin’” were on heavy rotation.

 

At CalArts, where Harris worked with a youth program, music by modern composers -- Babbitt, Partch, Subotnick, Steve Reich, Ligeti -- bled through the rehearsal room walls, seeped into the hallways and into Harris’ musical imagination. Much of his work that followed blended progressive rock with classical music, and Harris created it with a plethora of sound sources: samples, electric guitar, mandocello, stand up bass, percussion, and 5 string electric violin. Not satisfied with the instruments available, Harris also began to work with instruments he built, found, and scrounged: tape loops, a kit-built hurdy gurdy, a $10 garage sale zither, a Scotland tourist’s souvenir shop bagpipe, plastic water jugs rattling with beads. A later project, a flirtation with the sounds of animated cartoons employed a slide whistle, bamboo flutes, a kit-made hammered dulcimer, and a hundred-plus year-old marimba that, according to the newspaper classified ad, had travelled from village to village in Guatemala on the back of a burro.

 

Later projects include work as a member of the Los-Angeles based composers organization California Outside Music Association, writing the soundtrack for a short film honoring Olympia Dukakis, creating a soundscape to accompany an exhibition of work by Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, and composing works for Quercus, a fusion band.

Over the years he has written a collection of Art Pieces for piano, as well as a collection of fugues. He is currently completing a piano studies book for the autodidact, based upon his decades of private piano instruction.

 

Philosophically, Harris finds the idea of ‘artistic identity’ as something ​fluid,​ saying, “For each piece, the challenge is to find ‘​its ​voice’, waiting to be released”.

String Quartet # 1 is Harris’ first collaboration with The Sirius Quartet and Navona Records. gregoryharrismusic.com

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photo: Jasper Harris

 

 

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