Momenta Quartet – 5/12/17

7:30 PM, OLIN CONCERT HALL

Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at: batesconcerts.eventbrite.com.

Momenta Quartet

Emilie-Anne Gendron and Alex Shiozaki, violins Stephanie Griffin, viola; Michael Haas, cello

Momenta: the plural of momentum – four individuals in motion towards a common goal. This is the idea behind the Momenta Quartet, whose eclectic vision encompasses contemporary music of all aesthetic backgrounds alongside great music from the recent and distant past. The New York City-based quartet has premiered over 100 works, collaborated with over 120 living composers and was praised by The New York Times for its “diligence, curiosity and excellence.” In the words of The New Yorker’s Alex Ross, “few American players assume Haydn’s idiom with such ease.”

The quartet came into being in November 2004, when composer Matthew Greenbaum invited violist Stephanie Griffin to perform Mario Davidovsky’s String Trio for events celebrating Judaism and Culture at New York’s Symphony Space and Temple University in Philadelphia. A residency through the composition department at Temple University ensued, and the rehearsals and performances were so satisfying that the players decided to form a quartet. Through this residency, Momenta gave two annual concerts highlighting the talents of Temple University student composers alongside 20th-century masterworks and works from the classical canon, and repeated the programs at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture. From the outset, Momenta treated all music equally, devoting as much time, care and commitment to the student works as to the imposing musical monuments.

Word of Momenta’s passionate advocacy for emerging composers spread quickly. Composers started inviting Momenta for similar concerts and residencies at other academic institutions, among them Cornell, Columbia and Yeshiva Universities; the Boston and Cincinnati Conservatories; and the Eastman School of Music. In 2008 the quartet won its first major commission grant from the Koussevitzky Foundation for Malaysian composer Kee Yong Chong, and since received a second Koussevitzky grant for Bolivian composer Agustín Fernández. Deeply committed to the musical avant-garde of the developing world, Momenta has been an indispensable advocate for many international composers. In addition to world premieres by Chong and Fernández, Momenta has premiered and championed the works of Tony Prabowo (Indonesia), Cergio Prudencio (Bolivia) and Hana Ajiashvili (Georgia). Upcoming adventures include a project to perform and record all thirteen string quartets by Mexican microtonal maverick Julián Carrillo (1875-1965) over the next three years.

Momenta has appeared at such prestigious venues as the Library of Congress, National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery, Rubin Museum, Miller Theatre at Columbia University, and the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study and looks forward to high-profile concerts at Chamber Music Cincinnati, Washington University and at the internationally renowned Cervantino Festival in Mexico. Momenta gave its Mexican debut at the National University (UNAM) last June and has performed in the United Kingdom, Indonesia and Singapore. Momenta has recorded for Centaur Records, Furious Artisans, PARMA, New World Records, and Albany Records; and has been broadcast on WQXR, Q2 Music, Austria’s Oe1, and Vermont Public Radio. The quartet’s debut album, Similar Motion, is available on Albany Records.

Lauded by the New York Times as a “brilliant soloist” and by France’s ClassiqueInfo for her “excellent technical mastery” and “undeniable sensitivity”, Emilie-Anne Gendron enjoys an active freelance career based in New York. A deeply committed chamber musician, Ms. Gendron is a core member and frequent leader of the Sejong Soloists; a member of the Toomai String Quintet; and on the roster of the Marlboro Music Festival and the touring Musicians From Marlboro. Ms. Gendron is a past winner of the Stulberg String Competition and took 2nd Prize and the Audience Prize at the 2009 Sion-Valais International Violin Competition. She was trained at the Juilliard School where her teachers were Won-Bin Yim, Dorothy DeLay, David Chan, and Hyo Kang. She holds the Artist Diploma and Master of Music degree from Juilliard, as well as a B.A. in Classics from Columbia as a graduate of the Columbia-Juilliard joint-degree program. www.emilieannegendron.com

Praised by The New York Times as “spellbinding,” violinist Alex Shiozaki is emerging as a strong advocate for the music of today. At home with music new and old, he has appeared as a soloist on stages from Carnegie Hall, NYC, to Salle Cortot, Paris. Recent and upcoming highlights include solo appearances with the Sendai Philharmonic in Japan and AXIOM in NYC. As a chamber musician, Alex has been featured on the Wednesdays At One concert series at Alice Tully Hall and in the Focus! Festival at the Juilliard School. In recent years, he has taken part in the Chelsea Music Festival and MoMA Summergarden series in NYC, and at Bravo! Vail in Colorado. He frequently collaborates with his wife and pianist Nana Shi, with whom he made his 2011 Carnegie Hall debut in Stern Auditorium. Complementing his performing experience, Alex is a teaching artist with Chamber Music by the Bay, an educational outreach and concert series that engages with audience through chamber music, and a teaching fellow for Juilliard’s Music Advancement Program. Alex holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College and a Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School. He has previously studied with Ronald Copes and Joseph Lin of the Juilliard String Quartet, as well as Lynn Chang and Robin Sharp. As a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow at the Juilliard School, Alex is writing about the works of the contemporary Japanese composer Somei Satoh. www.alexshiozaki.com

Stephanie Griffin is an innovative violist with a unique and eclectic musical vision. Born in Canada and based in New York City, her musical adventures have taken her to Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, England, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Mexico and Mongolia. From large concert halls to the sand dunes of the Gobi desert, she has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in classical, contemporary and improvisational contexts. As a soloist, she has been praised by the Los Angeles Times as “enthralling” and has worked closely with numerous composers, among them Salvatore Sciarrino, Tristan Murail and Tony Prabowo. Stephanie is a member of the Argento Chamber Ensemble and Continuum, serves as principal violist of the Princeton Symphony and on the faculty of Brooklyn College, and is the former curator of contemporary music at Galapagos Art and Performance Space. As an improviser, Stephanie was a 2014 fellow at Music Omi and performs regular with numerous avant-jazz bands and composer/performer collectives. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The Juilliard School where she studied with Juilliard Quartet violist Samuel Rhodes and has recorded for Tzadik, Innova, Naxos, New World and Albany records. www.stephaniegriffinviola.com

Michael Haas is a sought-after chamber musician, performing in New York City and around the world. In a recent performance his playing was noted as “refined and attractive” by the New York Times. He has recently appeared performing chamber music at Alice Tully Hall, the Kennedy Center, and as a guest at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. He is also a member of the New Haven Symphony, and performs regularly with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the Princeton Symphony. Mr. Haas holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School studying with David Soyer, Peter Wiley, Joel Krosnick, and Darrett Adkins. He has taught at the CUNY Bronx Community College, and given masterclasses at Williams College, the University of Hawaii and Manoa, and at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music as faculty at the Accent12 Festival.

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