AMN Reviews: Sirius Quartet – Paths Become Lines (2016; Autentico Music)

downloadIn the wrong hands, an album of string quartets can be a staid affair. Luckily, the Sirius Quartet has the right hands – eight of them for that matter. Like so many modern classical composers and performers, Sirius is informed and influenced by a wide array of styles – rock, jazz, and middle-eastern, among many others. This is apparently from the first moments of the self-titled opening track, an urgent piece with a decidedly non-classical structure that resembles what one might expect from an ensemble that has collaborated with Elliott Sharp and Doctor Nerve.

This is not to say there is no elements of the romantic period sneaking their way in – just that Paths Become Lines is not entrenched in this era. For instance, the fourth track, Spidey Falls, features grinding violins over a rapid tempo, and includes a break with polyrhythmic percussion.

The middle portion of the recording is a traditionally-structured, four-movement string quartet (String Quartet No. 4). The first movement slowly builds up tension, then releases it with dissonant chords. Slowing things down as expected, the second movement is more atmospheric and sparse. The third movement includes elegant contrapunctal lines, while the fourth features up-tempo complexities and wonderfully disjointed cadences.

Perhaps because it covers so much ground, Paths Become Lines seems all over the map at times, combining the familiar and novel. Nonetheless, this is merely an observation and the eclecticism therein does not detract. This is a strong offering from a new-music outfit that not only promises, but delivers.

2016-17 Season at Milwaukee’s Present Music

English: The Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) at night

Source: Present Music.

Made for Milwaukee
Saturday, September 3, 2016 at 7:30 pm
Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts, 2419 E. Kenwood Blvd., Milwaukee
For 35 years, Present Music has brought ground-breaking and wildly unique music to Milwaukee. Made for Milwaukee is a celebration of history-making commissions that were premiered to the world right here in our city by Milwaukee musicians. This concert will revisit old friends like Michael Torke, Kamran Ince, Jerome Kitzke and Sean Friar while ushering in the new with a world premiere by Ryan Carter. Present Music is just getting started. Hang on for this beautiful and mind-blowing ride.
Kamran Ince – Arches
Michael Torke – Four Proverbs
Ryan Carter – premiere
Sean Friar – Breaking Point
Jerome Kitzke- Haunted America

Angst, Horror & Fun
Friday, October 21, 2016
Part 1 6:30 pm – special exhibit and music in the galleries
Part 2 8 pm – Nosferatu
Milwaukee Art Museum, 700 N. Art Museum Dr., Milwaukee
Tread softly into the night and immerse yourself into a horrifically delightful experience with Present Music, Milwaukee’s devilishly dark and devious new music pioneers. Angst, Horror & Fun, in no particular order, will bring silent horror movies from a time gone by back to life right before your widening eyes. Walk the halls of MAM’s presentation of Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s….was that footsteps you just heard? Keep your wits about you and throw an occasional glance over your shoulder for Nosferatu lurking in the shadows.
Nosferatu, the film with music by Eric Segnitz and John Tanner
John Zorn

In the Chamber (four locations/dates – same program)
Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 7:30 pm
Location tbd
Friday, February 17, 2017 at 11:00 am
Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum
2220 N. Terrace Ave., Milwaukee
Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 7:30 pm
Marine Terminal Lofts in the home of Tim and Sue Frautschi
Sunday, February 19, 2017 at 3 pm
Location tbd
Present Music’s In the Chamber concerts take the audience deep into the heart of contemporary music. Building on the intimate intensity only experienced when a secret path becomes illuminated and the music leads you into the unknown. Expand your horizon and open yourself to the magnificently energetic works of Donnacha Dennehy, the ambitious Texu Kim and the introspective works of Hannah Lash. Listen with all your senses and welcome in a new way to feel music, to enjoy music and to be.
Pieces by:
Texu Kim
Hannah Lash
Donnacha Dennehy

Time, Nature, Culture, Sound
Saturday April 29, 2017 at 7 pm
Milwaukee Public Museum, 800 W. Wells St., Milwaukee
If these walls could talk, they would sing. Time, Nature, Culture, Sound at the Milwaukee Public Museum finds its life and music through stones and bones and, sorrowful yet triumphant song of whales, and the imaginative, ultra-delicate call of butterflies. Interpret the world through the eyes and ears of our ancient ancestors and listen for the simple beauty in a conch shell, in the history of the earth itself. All the residual sounds of Old Milwaukee still resonate within our city today.
John Cage – Litany for the Whale and Child of Tree

Friday, June 2, 2017 at 6 pm and 9 pm
Wherehouse, 818 S. Water St., Milwaukee
How far is far enough and how will one ever know? Boundaries pushes Present Music to the limit on this bumpy and bountiful adventure known as contemporary music. Special guest musician and jazz superstar, Steve Lehman, will join pianist and composer, Corey Smythe for a premiere performance. Take one step further and cross the line into a bold, new world with Present Music as your guide.
Cory Smythe – premiere
Amazing Grace string quartet by Ben Johnston
Ornette Coleman quartet
String Quartet by Steve Lehman
Kaija Saariaho – Petals for Violoncello and Live Electronics



June 12, 2016
Makaya McCraven Group, (le) poisson rouge
Marquis Hill Makaya McCraven Junuis Paul Justin ‘Justefan’ Thomas Greg Ward

June 12, 2016
Chicago Underground Duo, (le) poisson rouge
Rob Mazurek Chad Taylor

June 12, 2016
Jaimie Branch Quartet: Fly or Die, (le) poisson rouge
Jason Ajemian Jaimie Branch Ben LaMar Gay Tomeka Reid Chad Taylor

June 9, 2016
Tonya Foster Poetry, Judson Memorial Church
Tonya Foster

June 9, 2016
Jemeel Moondoc Cosmic Nickelodeon, Judson Memorial Church
Nathan Breedlove Hilliard Greene Jemeel Moondoc Matthew Shipp Newman Taylor-Baker

June 9, 2016
Garland of Blessing, Judson Memorial Church
Cooper-Moore Michael Bisio Hamid Drake Kidd Jordan

June 9, 2016
Steve Swell Quintet: Kende Dreams, Judson Memorial Church
Rob Brown Connie Crothers Larry Roland Steve Swell Chad Taylor

June 8, 2016
Jaimie Branch Quartet: Fly or Die, Rye
Jason Ajemian Jaimie Branch Tomeka Reid Chad Taylor

Gary Lucas: Sincerely Strange 

English: Gary Lucas performing at the Bowery P...

Source: Premier Guitar, an interview with Gary Lucas.

“A lot of my work is trying to throw light on the dark corners of culture that have been unfairly neglected,” says Gary Lucas. “I’m on a mission. I’m a champion for the underdog.” Lucas, despite his mastery of the guitar, is an underdog himself. The Manhattan denizen is a 6-string composer, improviser, and conceptualist of the highest order who, despite his excellence and impressive resume, has never quite ignited the creative powder keg to blast him into the mainstream.

Saariaho at the 2016 Ojai Music Festival

English: Peter Sellars. At the Ojai Festival, ...

Source: I Care If You Listen.

The third “station” of Kaija Saariaho‘s La Passion de Simone begins with two tumults of sound separated by pronounced silence, ushering in one of the piece’s most musically and textually violent episodes. On Thursday night in Ojai’s Libbey Bowl, the entire audience and ensemble took that collective breath, and three crows flew overhead, letting out harsh caws. “My hope is that all of you across the weekend will respond to this music as personally as possible,” 2016 Ojai Music Festival music director Peter Sellars had commented from the stage before the concert began. Presumably, the crows heard him.