New Music on the Cutting Edge

Argento is an Artist-in-Residence at Saint Pater's Church in Manhattan

2017-18 Concert Season

Conditions of Light

Friday, October 20, 2017, 7:30 PM
Saint Peter's Church, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54 St, New York [map]
Suggested Donation: $15

Monday, November 20, 2017, 8:30 PM, restaurant and bar open 7:30 PM
La Marbrerie, 21 Tue Alexis Lepere, Montreuil, France [map] [Event and Ticket Details]

Internationally-acclaimed Ensemble Cairn travels from Paris to join forces with Argento in our season opener in New York City. Under the baton of Guillaume Bourgogne, French-American violinist Elissa Cassini will perform the world premiere of Jérôme Combier's Koussevitsky commission Conditions de lumière, a concerto for violin and ensemble.

During a pessimistic moment in international relations, Argento and Ensemble Cairn wish to highlight the positive, idealistic, generous, and creative potential of international relations.

This concert, the result of an intense transatlantic exchange of music between the two ensembles, will feature both French and American composers. In addition to Jérôme Combier's coloristic style, Gérard Pesson takes familiar rhythms and vernacular influences and orchestrates them with "noises" from all the instruments. Franck Bedrossian also explores musical “noise,” but for its darker, more dramatic potential. On this side of the Atlantic, we perform American composers Michel Galante and Nina C. Young (Rome Prize in Composition 2015-16). Michel Galante’s Camouflage (world premiere) features a large ensemble flanked on either side by virtuoso marimba players. In contrast to the large ensemble works on the program, flutist Emi Ferguson and violist Ken Hamao will play Nina C. Young’s poetic duet L’heure bleue.

Argento will travel to France to repeat this performance with Ensemble Cairn for French audiences on November 20, 2017.


Jérôme Combier - Condition de lumière (2017) for violin and ensemble
World premiere commissioned by the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation
Elissa Cassini, violin

Michel Galante - Camouflage (2017) for large ensemble
World premiere

Gérard Pesson - Carmagnole (2015) for large ensemble

Nina C. Young - L'heure bleue (2013) for flute and viola

Jérôme Combier - Dog eat dog (2013) for guitar and cello

Franck Bedrossian - Innersonic (2012) for accordion and electric guitar
New York premiere

Program jointly performed by Argento Chamber Ensemble and Ensemble Cairn

Major support for this concert is provided by the French American Cultural Exchange.

Winter Dreams

Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 7:30 PM
Saint Peter's Church, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54 St, New York [map]
Suggested Donation: $15

At the end of his life, Gérard Grisey, an iconic figure in modern music, turned his attention to the dark and mystical songs of Hugo Wolf. Argento’s final concert of 2017 highlights works by composers inspired by previous musical compositions, transforming them into new works that are a reflection of their time, that reveal their own compositional voice. Alongside three exciting works by New York composers Sang Song, Du Yun and Taylor Brook, Argento will be joined by soprano Sharon Harms in Wolf Songs by Gérard Grisey, the iconic spectral French avant-garde composer who found in his penultimate work an unlikely source of inspiration in the 19th-century Austro-Slovene composer Hugo Wolf. Grisey orchestrates four of Hugo Wolf’s expressionistic lieder with forbidding texts of Eduard Mörike, creating four dark meditations on religion, nature, and time.

Two Asian American composers will be featured in this program. Argento will perform the world premiere of Korean American composer Sang Song’s Scars, a work that highlights the effects of post-traumatic stress syndrome that includes the experience of mourning, embodied by tragic musical quotations from Verdi’s Otello. For portions of this work, the audience will have the option of hearing processed sounds through headphones distributed at the performance. In her duet for violin and piano, When a Tiger Meets a Rosa Rugosa,” Pulitzer Prize winning Chinese American composer Du Yun transforms the poem “In me, past, present, future meet” by the war-damaged British poet Siegfried into a wordless vocalise.

Early in the 20th century, Hungarian composer Béla Bartók devotedly traveled to remote villages of Transylvania to make the first outdoor field recordings of folk music, which he admired for its robust expressive power. Using seven of these recordings, Bartok composed his Romanian Folk Dances, presenting them to audiences within a classical concert framework that adds many levels of nuance and color to the original songs. Audience will hear the original field recordings before Argento's performance of Bartok’s concert settings of these vernacular discoveries.
The program ends with Taylor Brook’s Arrhythmia, a musical re-imagining of the first movement of Mahler’s 9th Symphony. Brook asked himself what Mahler would have done if he were to write this piece today, and wrote a microtonal string quartet of which James Oestreich of the New York Times calls “gripping from the outset and engrossing throughout.” Argento will give the premiere performance of this quartet in an expanded version scored with percussion.


Hugo Wolf / Gérard Grisey - Wolf Songs (1997) for voice and ensemble
Sharon Harms, soprano - US premiere

Sang Song - Scars (2017) for ensemble
World premiere

Béla Bartók - Romanian Folk Dances (1915) for violin and piano

Du Yun - When a Tiger Meets a Rosa Rugosa (2013) for violin and piano
Ken Hamao, violin; Euntaek Kim, piano

Taylor Brook - Arrhythmia (new version 2017)
World premiere

Fragments in Space

Monday, March 5, 2018, 7:30 PM
Saint Peter's Church, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54 St, New York [map]
Suggested Donation: $15

Daniel Barenboim said, “Robert Schumann didn’t have a concept of sound, he had a concept of music.” If true, then how does Schumann’s music relate to the world of contemporary music, where “sound” is everything? This is addressed in the works of György Kurtág and Aldo Clementi, who created a piano concerto out of fragments from Schumann’s inspired and puzzling Novelette No. 8.


György Kurtág - Hommage à R. Schumann (1990) for clarinet, viola and piano

Aldo Clementi - Piano Concerto (1986)
New York premiere

Du Yun - When a Tiger Meets a Rosa Rugosa (2013) for violin and piano

Robert Schumann / Kimmy Szeto - Symphony No. 3, "Rhenish" (1850) arranged for chamber ensemble (2013)

Composer Portrait: Erin Gee

Saturday, May 24, 2018, 7:30 PM
Saint Peter's Church, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54 St, New York [map]
Suggested Donation: $15

Argento’s Season finale will feature the first New York City portrait concert of American composer/performer Erin Gee, with a program of ensemble and vocal works. The composer will perform alongside the Argento Chamber Ensemble, followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Argento's 2017-18 season programming has been made possible by the Fritz Reiner Fund, the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, and the generosity of individual supporters. Additional support is provided by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.