Aizuri Quartet: Song Emerging
WQXR's Artist Propulsion Lab Concert Series
Originally Aired: Friday, November 18, 2022
As part of WQXR’s Artist Propulsion Lab series, the Aizuri Quartet dives into the powerful and poignant world of song in an evening of live music and conversation.
The program opens with the Canadian Inuk vocalist, multi-disciplinary artist and activist Tanya Tagaq’s Sivunittini. Drawing from her deeply personal style of Inuit throat singing, Tagaq describes her string quartet as a piece of the land, and perhaps “a little bit of a wake-up” from humankind’s disconnect from nature.
A celebration of the most direct human expression in music and the Aizuri Quartet’s vibrant and inspiring musical community, “The Aizuri Songbook” is a joyfully curated collection of commissioned and pre-existing songs that hold special meaning to the Aizuris. It features original works by Anna Roberts-Gevalt, Eleanor Alberga and Ben Russell, and classical lieder, traditional and popular songs in new arrangements by Christina Courtin, Michi Wiancko, Lembit Beecher, George Meyer, and members of the Aizuri Quartet.
Emma Frucht, Violin
Miho Saegusa, Violin
Ayane Kozasa, Viola
Karen Ouzounian, Cello
*Tanya Tagaq’s Sivunittinni is commissioned for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, a project of the Kronos Performing Arts Association. The score and parts are available for free online.
The Aizuri Songbook
Joanna Newsom, arr. Christina Courtin
Bridges and Balloons
Franz Schubert, arr. Michi Wiancko
Der Lindenbaum from Winterreise, D. 911
Clara Schumann, arr. Karen Ouzounian
Ich Stand in Dunkeln Träumen
Claude Debussy, arr. Miho Saegusa
Romance: Voici que le printemps
Cécile Chaminade, arr. Lembit Beecher
Ronde d’amour, Ah! Si l’amour prenait les racines
American Traditional, arr. George Meyer
Working on a Building
Anna Roberts-Gevalt, arr. Karen Ouzounian
The Aizuri Quartet has established a unique position within today’s musical landscape, infusing all of its music-making with infectious energy, joy, and warmth, cultivating curiosity in listeners, and inviting audiences into the concert experience through its innovative programming, and the depth and fire of its performances.
Praised by The Washington Post for “astounding” and “captivating” performances that draw from its notable “meld of intellect, technique and emotions,” the Aizuri Quartet was named the recipient of the 2022 Cleveland Quartet Award by Chamber Music America, and was awarded the Grand Prize at the 2018 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition along with top prizes at the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in Japan and the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition in London. The Quartet’s debut album, Blueprinting, featuring new works written for the Aizuri Quartet by five American composers, was released by New Amsterdam Records to critical acclaim (“In a word, stunning” — I Care If You Listen), nominated for a 2019 GRAMMY Award, and named one of NPR Music’s Best Classical Albums of 2018. The Aizuri Quartet’s follow-up to Blueprinting will be released on Azica Records in 2023.
The Aizuri Quartet continues its innovative approach to programming into the 2022-23 season, with programs creatively juxtaposing the old and the new: such as Sunrise, which pairs Tanya Tagaq’s Sivunittinni with Haydn; or Song Emerging, pairing Schumann’s first quartet with the Aizuri Songbook; or The Art of Translation, featuring art-inspired works by Paul Wiancko, Lembit Beecher and Hannah Kendall to set the stage for Schubert’s Death and the Maiden.
The Aizuris believe in an integrative approach to music-making, in which teaching, performing, writing, arranging, curation, and role in the community are all connected. In 2020 the ensemble launched AizuriKids, a free online series of educational videos for children that uses the string quartet as a catalyst for creative learning and features themes such as astronomy, American history, and cooking. These vibrant, whimsical, and interactive videos are lovingly produced by the Aizuris and are paired with activity sheets to inspire further exploration.
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