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Argento champions groundbreaking composers through innovative performance.

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Sunday, August 20, 2023 | 7:30pm

Cary Hall, Dimenna Center

450 W 37th St, New York, NY 10018

Click here for maps

Argento joins TimeSpans and our friends Talujon Percussion Quartet in a symmetrical program dedicated to the music of Earle Brown.

PROGRAM

Calder Piece (1963-66)
Earle Brown
for four percussionists and Calder mobile
Version 1, performed by Talujon Percussion Quartet
featuring Alexander Calder’s chef d’orchestre


Times Fiv(1963)
Earle Brown

for flute, trombone, harp, violin, cello, and tape
performed by Argento New Music Project


Calder Piece (1963-66)
Earle Brown

for four percussionists and Calder mobile
Version 2, performed by Talujon Percussion Quartet

La Chute d'Icare 

Brian Ferneyhough

Carol McGonnell, clarinet

Argento New Music Project

We are proud to release this special video performance of British composer Brian Ferneyhough’s virtuosic concerto for solo clarinet and ensemble La Chute d’Icare (1988), with Carol McGonnell as the featured soloist.  This work depicts the violent and dramatic flight, fall, and ultimate death of Icarus, which is captured through the virtuoso interactions you will see in this short film. Ferneyhough took inspiration from a 16th century painting originally attributed to Brueghel called la Chute d’Icare (the fall of Icarus). According to mythology, Icarus donned wings made of feather and wax, only to fly over the ocean, and mistakenly, fly too close to the sun, whose hot rays melted the wax and caused him to fall to his demise.

The musicians joining Carol McGonnell are: flutist Francesca Ferrara, oboist Kathy Halvorson, percussionist Sean Statser, pianist Steven Beck, violinist Mari Lee, cellist Michael Katz, bassist Tristan Kasten-Krause, and conductor Michel Galante. All of these artists give their very best efforts to this extreme, surprising, and often violent work. What makes this work unique is that it has an immediate surface appeal, but because of its many layers of musical activity, it can be enjoyed even more and more with each repeated listening. 

Herding Cats

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Tuesday, April 18, 2023 | 7:30pm

Benzaquen Hall, Dimenna Center

450 W 37th St, New York, NY 10018

Click here for maps

Argento produces and a performs a New York concert with friends and collaborators from the Baltimore-based icarus Quartet. This concert features two world premieres and the music of composers from five continents.

PROGRAM

Melodie – fallend (2003)
Beat Furrer

Miles Walter, piano

Camouflage (2012, 2017, 2022)
Michel Galante
Two keyboards, two percussion

icarus Quartet

little things lost WORLD PREMIERE* (2022)
Amy Beth Kirsten
Two keyboards, two percussion

icarus Quartet

-intermission-

sensibilità assimilate WORLD PREMIERE (2023)
Lang Chen

Fast Darkness III: Moonwards (2022)
Chaya Czernowin
Flute, clarinet, piano, violin, viola, cello

Growth (2010)
Marcos Balter
Flute, clarinet, saxophone, electric guitar, piano, violin, viola, cello


little things lost is made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.

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“In four of the pieces on this concert, audiences can hear how completely different musical personalities deal with ascending and descending lines, while the other three will be more like non-linear spaces that the listener inhabits. As rich as such connections are, when I look at the composers on this program, I just see completely different approaches to music, from five different continents and seven different generations. And it becomes clear to me as always that composers are intransigent. They all do their own thing, and go their own way, and that’s why we want to hear them. Trying to summarize them into a neat and tidy framework would be like trying to herd cats.”

-Michel Galante


Austrian Manuela Meier’s iterate no trace undermines the listener’s expectations by pushing the limits of what the clarinetist can do with single-line instrument harmonics. Austrian Beat Furrer’s aphoristic Melodie – fallend embodies the essence of linear music in under two minutes. American Michel Galante’s Camouflage takes musical lines and multiplies them exponentially, creating a sense of inevitability through a clash of numerous musical layers and tempi. Brazilian/American Marcos Balter’s Growth begins with staggered ascending figurations and, over time, transforms them into rich, sonorous timbral experiences. On this program, Argento presents the icarus Quartet, who perform a world premiere by American composer Amy Beth Kirsten. About her new work little things lost, Ms. Kirsten writes: “While writing this piece, I was reflecting on how much my life has changed over the last few years. The piece pays homage to those little things that have been lost, transformed, and rediscovered.” Argento performs the world premiere of sensibilità assimilate by Chinese composer Lang Chen, who creates an instrumental work entirely from a piece he first composed for electronics. Chaya Czernowin’s recently written Fast Darkness III: Moonwards. is “fast gestures, drawn by a sharp pen and loaded with excited energy [to] inform the listener of a large universe that they are enveloping.

Mahler in New York
-Argento explores the last years of Mahler's life

through music, film and literature

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Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | 7:30 pm

Benzaquen Hall, Dimenna Center

450 W 37th St, New York, NY 10018

Click here for maps

 PROGRAM

Mahler in New York 

Excerpt from forthcoming film by Hilan Warshaw

 The Marriage: the Mahlers in New York

Reading from forthcoming novel by Joseph Horowitz

Symphony No. 10, Part 2

Gustav Mahler

Completed and orchestrated by Michel Galante for 15 instruments

Through carefully chosen excerpts from works of forthcoming music, film, and literature, Argento explores the last years of Mahler’s life (1907–1911), during which he survived devastating personal crises, lived in New York City and conducted the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera. 

 

Director Hilan Warshaw will present a 20-minute excerpt from his forthcoming film, Mahler in New York, a new documentary in production for broadcast on SVT and other networks, recreating Mahler’s momentous last years through archival sources, interviews with leading experts and musicians, musical performances, and modern-day location footage. The film also examines ways in which Mahler’s experiences in America may have impacted his late works. In Warshaw’s words, “Mahler told Jean Sibelius that a ‘symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.’ The immigrant-driven city of New York, in which nearly every world culture is represented, is its own type of all-embracing experience. Mahler (whose symphonies were a musical melting-pot of his own mixed cultural identities) can thus seem especially relevant here– for many of the same reasons that make his music resonate far beyond New York.”

 

Author Joseph Horowitz will read an excerpt from his forthcoming novel The Marriage: The Mahlers in New York. This deeply researched work, by a leading authority on American musical life, explores Gustav and Alma Mahler’s legendary relationship during his New York years– a setting that highlights aspects of their personalities less readily observable in an Old World more familiar to them. Horowitz writes: “Every Mahler biography known to me is written through European eyes and recapitulates Mahler’s own ignorance of the New World – of the teeming musical life of Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Marriage is partly conceived as a corrective. It is in fact the first book-length treatment of Mahler in New York ever written.”

 

Conductor/composer Michel Galante will lead the Argento New Music Project in a performance of the second half of his completion of Mahler’s 10th Symphony, scored in a new version for chamber ensemble. The manuscripts of these movement, particularly the fourth and fifth, contain German language texts in Mahler’s handwriting that function posthumously as a diary into Mahler’s thoughts and feelings, expressing rank desperation and devastation at the series of crises and renewals he experienced during the last chapters of his life. Galante writes: “What makes this music special is that he musically captures complex emotions previously unexplored in his other music and in the music that came before him.”

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Ancient Structures & Inexorable Lust
-Georg Friedrich Haas, inspired by Josquin des Prez and Sappho

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Wednesday, November 2, 2022 | 8 PM

Cary Hall, Dimenna Center

450 W 37th St, New York, NY 10018

Click here for maps


Friday, November 4, 2022 | 8 PM

College of Fine Arts Concert Hall, Boston University

855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

Produced by the Boston University Center for New Music

Click here for maps

Free and open to the public

The Argento New Music Project opens its 2022-23 season with the music of Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas. Soprano Sharon Harms and conductor Michel Galante join the ensemble on stage. 

tria ex uno (2001)

Georg Friedrich Haas/Josquin des Prez

for flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, violin, and cello

...fließend... (2019)

Georg Friedrich Haas

for flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, two violins, viola, cello, and bass

ATTHIS (2009)

Georg Friedrich Haas/Sappho

for soprano, clarinet, bassoon, horn, two violins, viola, cello, and bass

Sharon Harms, soprano

In his Agnus Dei II from  Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales, Franco-Flemish composer Josquin des Prez showed that a single melodic line, played at 3 different speeds, could render a complete, full-blown musical movement. Georg Friedrich Haas said “I wish I had composed the Agnus Dei myself”. Although Haas could not travel back in time to the 14th century, he did the next best thing: he composed his own musical fantasy, called Tria ex Uno, based on Josquin’s miraculous movement. Argento opens our November concert with this work, scored for instrumental sextet. 

*   *   *

 

Performed for memory, ...fließend... creates the aural illusion of an infinite Shepard-tone, through a continuous instrumental accelerando. 

*   *   *

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In her surviving poetry, Sappho of Lesbos (c. 630 – c. 570 BC) depicts an intense, overwhelming infatuation with a young woman named Atthis. Taking fragments from Sappho, Georg Friedrich Haas begins his 2009 composition, ATTHIS, by orchestrating the climactic emotional upheaval caused by Sappho’s all-consuming unrequited obsession. 

Haas explains "In the first part, the pain of love is so overwhelming that she loses consciousness. In the second part, I attempt the most difficult thing in contemporary music: I try to compose a happy ending. We don't have a language for this in contemporary music.... We have many ideas to compose suffering, but not to compose love." Haas realizes the sublime intoxication of love by bathing the audience in vibrating, consonant harmonies that dramatically contrast the violence of the opening movement.

Argento's 2022-23 season programming is made possible by the Reed Foundation, the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, the BMI Foundation, and the generosity of individual supporters. Additional support is provided in part 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 Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.

"AN ESSENTIAL SOURCE OF ADVENTUROUS NEW MUSIC"

- ALEX ROSS

ARGENTO

NEW MUSIC

PROJECT

 

Under the direction of Michel Galante, Argento has become an essential source of adventurous new music.

– Alex Ross, The New Yorker

The Argento New Music Project’s fierce emotional commitment onstage and relentless determination to master all technical aspects of its repertoire has inspired world renowned composers such as Tristan Murail, Beat Furrer, and Georg Friedrich Haas to regard them as the best interpreter of their music in the United States. Argento first gained prominence at New York’s “Sounds French Festival” in 2003 and were shortly thereafter invited to work closely with Elliott Carter and Pierre Boulez for the opening concert of the French American Cultural Exchange. From its inception, the group has dedicated itself to a thorough command of the microtonal challenges of contemporary Spectral composers, an effort that culminated in their first CD Winter Fragments, winner of the prestigious Record Geijutsu 2010 Record Academy Award for best recording.

 

Argento has presented world premiere performances of works by leading composers such as Tristan Murail, Helmut Lachenmann, Bernhard Lang, Sebastian Currier, Fred Lerdahl, and Philippe Hurel, as well as exciting emerging composers including Sabrina Schroeder, Murat Yakin, Erin Gee, Yoni Niv, Victor Ádan, Hila Tamir, Sang Song, Daniel Iglesias, and many others. Argento brought one of the most influential recent masterpieces of contemporary music, in vain, by Georg Friedrich Haas, to New York, at a time when the composer was unknown and unperformed in America. US premieres include works by Salvatore Sciarrino, Luca Francesconi, Michael Jarrell, Olga Neuwirth, Enno Poppe, Gérard Pesson, Mathias Spahlinger, Gérard Grisey, and Eva Reiter. Equally important, Argento introduced American composers to foreign audiences in its many performances at international festivals throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

 

Argento has produced over thirty studio recordings, many of which have been professionally released on well-known labels such as Bridge, Aeon, and Harmonia Mundi. As a guest ensemble, it has worked closely to develop new works with graduate students from universities including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Columbia.

 

Argento is committed to expanding the reach of contemporary music to new audiences. From 2009-2015, Argento and the Austrian Cultural Forum co-produced the Moving Sounds Festival, merging contemporary concert music with other artistic worlds including dance, architecture, sound art, electronica, and turntablism. In recent concerts, the group has endeavored to expand its reach beyond contemporary music audiences by including works by 14th, 19th, and early 20th century composers in a musically driven, innovative, and non-conformist manner.

 

Recent highlights include a performance with legendary soprano Frederica von Stade at Weill Hall in Sonoma, California, and world premiere performances of the following works: Ann Cleare’s eyam ii, commissioned by the Arts Council of Ireland and premiered at the Library of Congress; Jérôme Combier’s Conditions de lumiere, commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation and premiered in both New York and Paris; and Beat Furrer’s spazio immergente, commissioned by the Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg and premiered in its entirety at the composer’s first American portrait concert at Carnegie Hall.

Argento's reputation builds on its cohesion as a chamber ensemble, demanding technical preparation, and a probing interpretive commitment to the music. Independent of commercial endeavors, the Ensemble relies on the hard work of its musicians, volunteers, board members, and your generous support.

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Feuilles a travers les cloches - Tristan Murail
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