Kaisahan Series 2023-2024

January 28, 2024 at 4pm
First Church Boston

Carlos Simon Warmth from Other Suns (2020)
Ludwig van Beethoven String Quartet in Bb major, Op. 18 No. 6
Gabriela Lena Frank Iberian Songs (2016)
Robert Schumann String Quartet in A minor, Op. 41 No. 1

Arneis Quartet
Tony Arnold, soprano

"Between 1916 and 1970, the mass exodus of African-Americans leaving the rural South, seeking homes in the urban West, Midwest, and Northeast became known as the Great Migration. Inspired by Isabel Wilkerson’s book  The Warmth of Other Suns , I chose to bring these stories to life through the voice of a string quartet," remarks Carlos Simon.  Arneis continues its Kaisahan Initiative delving into Simon's musical exploration of the emotional highs and lows experienced by those who embarked on the Great Migration.  Beethoven's String Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 18 No. 6 , serves as a record of both the joy of the composer as he found confidence in writing string quartets and sadness brought on by the realization of his impending deafness.  Soprano Tony Arnold joins Arneis for Gabriela Lena Frank's Iberian Songs which she premiered at Music at Angel Fire.  Frank draws her texts from Spanish "deep song", which is a source of lyrics for modern-day flamenco.  Robert Schumann's String Quartet in A minor cleverly combines his obsession with Bach with romantic brooding and soaring love songs.

Celebrated as a “luminary in the world of chamber music and art song” (Huffington Post), soprano Tony Arnold is internationally acclaimed as a leading proponent of contemporary music in concert and recording as a “convincing, mesmerizing soprano” (Los Angeles Times) who “has a broader gift for conveying the poetry and nuance behind outwardly daunting contemporary scores” (Boston Globe). Her unique blend of vocal virtuosity and communicative warmth, combined with wide-ranging skills in education and leadership were recognized with the 2015 Brandeis Creative Arts Award, given in appreciation of “excellence in the arts and the lives and works of distinguished, active American artists.” Arnold’s extensive chamber music repertory includes major works written for her voice by Georges Aperghis, George Crumb, Brett Dean, Jason Eckardt, Gabriela Lena Frank, Josh Levine, George Lewis, Philippe Manoury, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Christopher Theofanidis, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, John Zorn, and numerous others. She is a member of the intrepid International Contemporary Ensemble and enjoys regular guest appearances with leading ensembles, presenters, and festivals worldwide. With more than 30 discs to her credit, Arnold has recorded a broad segment of the modern vocal repertory with esteemed chamber music colleagues. Her recording of George Crumb’s iconic Ancient Voices of Children (Bridge) received a 2006 Grammy nomination. She is a first prize laureate of both the Gaudeamus International and the Louise D. McMahon competitions. A graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University, Arnold was twice a fellow of the Aspen Music Festival as both a conductor and singer. She currently is on the faculties of the Peabody Conservatory and the Tanglewood Music Center.
Program and song texts
Beethoven Program Notes
Simon Program Notes
Frank Program Notes
Schumann Program Notes

Streaming link is provided as a pay-what-you-can service. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Arneis today!

Guest Ensemble Recital

Moonlight Wind
Sunday March 3, 2024 at 4pm
First Church Boston

Elena Ruehr Jane Wang Considers the Dragonfly (2009)
Marti Epstein Nachtvoll (2014)
Toru Takemitsu And then I knew ‘twas Wind (1992)
Elena Ruehr Trois Gymnopédies (2020) (world premiere)
Claude Debussy Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp (1915)

   Vanessa Holroyd, flute
   Daniel Doña, viola
   Franziska Huhn, harp

Claude Debussy established a new genre when he composed his Sonata for flute, viola, and harp in 1915.  Many composers since then have taken to the unique combination of colors offered by this instrumentation .  Toru Takemitsu’s And then I knew ‘twas Wind, inspired by Debussy and Emily Dickinson, has as its subject, according to the composer,  “the signs of the wind in the natural world and of the soul, or unconscious mind (or we could even call it ‘dream’), which continues to blow, like the wind, invisibly, through human consciousness.”  Boston-based composer Marti Epstein counts Takemitsu as one of her major influences and her Nachtvoll written in 2014 evokes the natural world through a different lens.  Elena Ruehr’s Trois Gymnopedies was written for TriChrome during the pandemic in 2020 and is finally receiving its world premiere on this program.  The work is inspired by Satie and Debussy and, according to the composer,  “harken back to my childhood when I lived on the edge of a great forest near the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan.”

Kaisahan Initiative

2023-2024 Composer-in-Residence Susie Ibarra

We are thrilled to have Susie Ibarra as the Kaisahan Initiative's inaugural Composer-in Residence.  Susie Ibarra is a Filipinx composer, percussionist, and sound artist. Her interdisciplinary practice spans formats, including performance, mobile sound-mapping applications, multi-channel audio installations, recording, and documentary. Many of Ibarra’s projects are based in cultural and environmental preservation: she has worked to support Indigenous and traditional music cultures, such as musika katatubo from the North and South Philippine islands; her sound research advocates for the stewardship of glaciers and freshwaters; and she collaborates with The Joudour Sahara Music Program in Morocco on initiatives that preserve sound-based heritage with sustainable music practices and support the participation of women and girls in traditional music communities.
Guest Ensemble Recital

Illuminous Forests
Saturday April 6, 2024 at 7:30pm
First Church Boston

Susie Ibarra, percussion
Alex Peh, piano
Daniel Doña, viola

This concert is a variation on a program curated by Ibarra for the Detroit Institute of Arts in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.  Musical selections will reflect on the shared Asian heritage of the performers and features a mix of pre-composed music and free improvisation.
Sunday April 7, 2024 at 4pm
First Church Boston

Susie Ibarra Pulsation (2018)
Susie Ibarra New Work TBD (world premiere)
Antonin Dvorak Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81

Arneis Quartet
Susie Ibarra, percussion
Alex Peh, piano

During their collaboration in Detroit for Ibarra’s Illuminous Forests project pianist Alex Peh and Arneis violist Daniel Doña had a eureka moment to pair a newly commissioned work by Susie for piano and string quartet with Antonin Dvorak’s folk-inspired Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 81.  The program will begin with Pulsation, written for the Kronos Quartet’s 50 for the Future project.  We are thrilled that Ibarra is playing optional modular percussion parts with us in Pulsation and her new work for piano quintet!   
Sunday June 2, 2024 at 4pm
First Church Boston

Anthony R. Green Sacred Ground (2021)
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel String Quartet in Eb major (1834)
Béla Bartók String Quartet No. 6, BB 119

Arneis Quartet

In this program Arneis explores unresolved aspects of race, gender, and war through works of Anthony R. Green, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, and Bela Bartok.  “Sacred Ground” was commissioned by Chamber Music Tulsa to commemorate the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre.  Green starts the work with “a cry and dense music” that then turns into “a complicated reflection, an unstable meditation” expressing how issues of race in the USA that led to the events in 1921 are still unresolved.  Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s creative energy and desire to compose rivaled that of her brother Felix.  Their father Abraham reprimanded Fanny for her desire to pursue composition seriously, stating in a letter that “music will perhaps become [Felix’s] profession, whilst for you it can and must only be an ornament, never the root of your being and doing.”  These barriers based on gender still exist for composers.  Bela Bartok wrote his sixth and last string quartet in 1939 as the beginning of World War II shook Europe to its core.  Via his involvement with the League of Nations as a committee member he bore early witness to deteriorating human rights on the continent paired with rising nationalistic tensions, tragedies that still plague our global community to this day.
October 29, 2023 at 4pm
First Church Boston

Franz Joseph Haydn String Quartet in Bb major, Op. 76 No. 4, “Sunrise”
Joan Tower Rising (2009)
Grazyna Bacewicz String Quartet No. 4 (1950)

Arneis Quartet
Vanessa Holroyd, flute

The Arneis Quartet launches its Kaisahan Initiative with a program of works by some of their favorite composers.  Rising arpeggios mark the magical opening of Haydn's String Quartet in B flat major, Op. 76 No. 4, inspiring its English nickname "Sunrise".  Joan Tower explores the many ways in which music can "go up" in Rising; flautist Vanessa Holroyd will be the quartet's expedition partner on this musical adventure.  Arneis first discovered Grazyna Bacewicz's String Quartet No. 4 when it coached the work at the BU Tanglewood Institute String Quartet Workshop and is excited to add it to their repertoire this season. Bacewicz won first prize for the work at the International Composers' Competition in Liege in 1951, one of the many highlights of her rising career.