Article from The Morning Call – April 2019

The Bucks County-based Concordia Chamber Players close the 2018-2019 season Sunday, April 28 at Trinity Church in Solebury (near New Hope) with a program pairing two works by contemporary composer Andy Akiho with a string quartet by Prokofiev.

Featured will be Akiho’s “21” for cello and marimba, his “LIgNEouS” for marimba and string quartet, and Prokofiev’s String Quartet No. 2. Akiho, described by The New York Times as “mold breaking,” and “vital,” is a New York City-based composer and percussionist with a special interest in works for the marimba and steel pans, which he began playing while a student at the University of South Carolina.

“21” was inspired by the 21st measure of the Fugue movement of Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 1. It calls for the cellist to also play a kick drum and trigger a looping pedal, joined by the marimba player who has some multitasking of his own in store. Featured are cellist Michelle Djoric, who is also Concordia Chamber Players artistic director, and Ian Rosenbaum on marimba.

“LIgNEouS” refers to anything made, consisting of, or resembling wood. “This title was chosen because the marimba, violin, viola, and cello are all primarily made of wood,” says Akiho in his program notes. “Also, the marimbist is often required to play with dowel rod bundles [rutes] and mallet shafts, without typical yarn mallet heads, in order to enhance the extremely wooden sounds and to articulate the highest overtones of the marimba.”

In “LIgNEouS,” Rosenbaum and Djoric will be joined by violinists Kristin Lee and Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu, and violist Dimitri Murrath. The strings then go off on their own for Prokofiev’s String Quartet No. 2, composed in 1942 in the town of Nalchik, in the foothills of the northern Caucasus Mountains. It is heavily infused with Kabardinian folk themes, the composer having been evacuated to the little-known Kabardino-Balkaria Autonomous Republic as the German army was overrunning Russia.

It was under these circumstances that Prokofiev came to know of the folk music of this area and led him to write this quartet. His intent, he has written, was to achieve “a combination of virtually untouched folk material and that most classical of classical forms, the string quartet.”


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