Brooklyn Rider releases Spontaneous Symbols
Spontaneous Symbols, Brooklyn Rider's release on In a Circle Records, is now available to purchase and stream. The album features works by Tyondai Braxton, Colin Jacobsen, Evan Ziporyn, Paula Matthusen and Kyle Sanna.
Named "one of today’s most technically accomplished string quartets" by NPR Music, Brooklyn Rider will be performing works from Spontaneous Symbols in concert this season, alongside their collaborative project Some of a Thousand Words.
From the press release:
Brooklyn Rider, the game-changing string quartet whose “superb playing is matched only by the thought, commitment and inspiration its members pour into projects” (NPR Music), releases Spontaneous Symbols on October 20 for In a Circle Records. All the music on the album was written for the group, by composers from the extended Brooklyn Rider family including Tyondai Braxton, Colin Jacobsen, Evan Ziporyn, Paula Matthusen and Kyle Sanna. As quartet violist Nicholas Cords puts it, the project is “somewhat rooted in the artistic firmament of New York City, but the scope of these wide ranging works extends far beyond.” Above all, he notes, Spontaneous Symbols “shows the quartet once again at the core of our artistic mission; bringing new works to life.”
Tyondai Braxton – a Brooklyn resident and veteran of the math-rock band Battles, which he co-founded – composed the highly virtuosic ArpRec1 generatively using a music software program. Inspired by the compositions of Fred Lerdahl and Iannis Xenakis, the work was commissioned by Washington Performing Arts and premiered by Brooklyn Rider at Washington, DC’s Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in the spring of 2015. The New York premiere followed a year later when the quartet participated in the NY PHIL BIENNIAL. Braxton’s music is also featured in Some of a Thousand Words, the quartet’s collaborative project with Guggenheim Fellowship-winning choreographer Brian Brooks and former New York City Ballet prima ballerina Wendy Whelan, which continues performances this season at venues on both coasts of the U.S.
Brooklyn Rider’s own Colin Jacobsen is a prolific contributor to the group’s repertoire. Most of their albums feature at least one of his compositions, including last season’s Naïve Classique release, So Many Things, on which eminent Swedish mezzo Anne Sofie von Otter sings his Carnegie Hall-commissioned For sixty cents. For his contribution to Spontaneous Symbols, he pays homage to the diverse world of NYC’s downtown music scene in the 70s and 80s, which included the likes of Glenn Branca, John Lurie, Meredith Monk, the Velvet Underground, the Ramones, and many other visionary musicians, while seeing them through the lens of John Cage and J.S. Bach. Titled BTT, the work also premiered at the quartet’s 2016 NY PHIL BIENNIAL performance and is featured in the Some of a Thousand Words project.
Evan Ziporyn is founder of Bang on a Can All-stars, renowned new-music clarinetist and Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music at MIT. For the quartet’s So Many Things project with von Otter, Ziporyn was commissioned by Carnegie Hall to arrange “Am I In Your Light?” from John Adams’ Doctor Atomic. His composition on the quartet’s new album is a spellbinding work exploring the different aspects of Qi, the Chinese concept of psychophysical energies that permeate the universe. The piece was commissioned by Brooklyn Rider and premiered at the group’s Stillwater Music Festival in Minnesota, where Ziporyn was the featured composer, in the summer of 2013.
Brooklyn Rider gave the U.S. premiere of noted electro-acoustic composer and Rome Prize-winner Paula Matthusen’s on the attraction for felicitous amplitude for string quartet and electronics at Wesleyan University, where she serves as Associate Professor of Music, in 2015. Part of a series of works based on field recordings in sites of historical infrastructure, the work amplifies the mysterious sounds and resonant frequencies of an ancient Roman cistern buried beneath the American Academy in Rome, where Brooklyn Rider premiered the work.
Finally, Brooklyn guitarist, composer, producer and arranger Kyle Sanna looks to the influential mid-century American photographer and founder of Aperture Magazine in his episodic musical essay Sequence for Minor White. Sanna has performed with and arranged for a range of artists, many of whom are also important parts of the Brooklyn Rider extended family, including Yo-Yo Ma and omnivorous banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck. Sanna arranged the Kate Bush song Pi for Anne Sofie von Otter and the quartet on So Many Things, and his arrangements of traditional Irish tunes will be heard on Brooklyn Rider’s upcoming collaborative album with Irish fiddler Martin Hayes.
With this closely knit family of composers, a roster of extra-musical inspirations, and a wide range of virtuosic showcases, Spontaneous Symbols perfectly exemplifies NPR Music’s praise for 2014’s the Brooklyn Rider Almanac: “Brooklyn Rider is one of today’s most technically accomplished string quartets, full stop. Its superb playing is matched only by the thought, commitment and inspiration its members pour into projects like this one — making the string quartet not a relic of times long gone, but a vessel for the shape of music to come.”
Music from Spontaneous Symbols will be heard in concert during much of the coming season, alongside the quartet’s ongoing collaborative projects: Some of a Thousand Words has performances in California and Maryland in the fall; the group performs with von Otter in Sweden and Germany; and a U.S. tour with Béla Fleck focuses on central states from Texas to Montana. The group also travels to Dublin in January for a concert with Martin Hayes, and concerts with jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman are slated for the spring.
The new album also marks a return to In a Circle Records, the label launched in 2008 by quartet violinist Johnny Gandelsman. The label’s first release was also Brooklyn Rider’s debut album, Passport, and subsequent quartet releases have included Dominant Curve and Seven Steps. Nicholas Cords’s 2013 solo debut, Recursions, was also recorded on In a Circle, as well as albums for Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, which includes Brooklyn Rider members, and The Knights, the chamber orchestra founded and co-artistic directed by Colin Jacobsen and his brother Eric.
For high-resolution photos, click here.