Isaura String Quartet ► Dig Deep
The Last Bookstore 
12.13.14 at 8:00pm


Melinda Rice: Before the Color Blue (2013)
ISQ + Melinda Rice, viola
Before the Color Blue was written in 2013 to be played by the tide pools at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium as the tide came in. The piece moves back and forth between two ways of creating music. At times the performers are asked to generate a large amount of the musical material through improvisation based on graphic notation. At other times the notes are very clear on the page, and so the performers’ contributions are to breathe life through interpretation into those instructions. Five folk songs are arranged in this piece.

 Anna Meadors: the space behind the breath* (2014)
ISQ + Cassia Streb, viola
the space behind the breath emulates the rhythm of breathing slowly and calmly, as if during a meditation. The pauses in the music suspend time. Holding your breath briefly after filling your lungs, you become aware that the lungs not only expand forward with air but also back, into the space behind them. Meditation is a form of transformation and the piece gains momentum; the sudden bursts push through the quiet. Eventually, the quartet returns to the calm feeling of the beginning, but now with harmonics...what was light is now even lighter. 

Cassia Streb: Modular Tree* (2014)
ISQ + Cassia Streb, viola
This piece consists of 2 layers of sound and some silence. The first sound layer is a recording of popcorn kernels dropping into a china teacup at random intervals. These recordings are played back through the violins, viola and cello with the use of small audio transducers that employ the body of the instrument as a speaker cabinet. The second layer of sound is that of the instruments being played live. The score the quartet reads is a drawing of a modular tree which is the pattern that many trees follow in nature as they grow with each branch being a smaller copy of the one that it preceded. The players explore a specific texture with each respective branch in order to reveal the structure of the tree.

Julia Wolfe: Dig Deep (1995)
ISQ + Melinda Rice, viola
Dig Deep is initially described by the composer as an “off beat samba,” which gradually reveals itself to be relentless sixteenth notes in various mixed-meter groupings, mostly 3’s and 4’s. This underlying motor is decorated with moments of expression. The composer leads the musicians with a variety of written instructions in the music, including: in your face; groove; yeah, getting lost in it; riff, maniacal; chomp; ragged hyper emotion; get frenzied; gritty, machine gun; fight it out; dig deep in the struggle.

* World premiere