Argento champions groundbreaking composers through innovative performance.

catch as catch can


August 15, 2021 2:00pm

National Opera Center

330 7th Ave, New York, NY 10001

Tickets required (link)

Concert Review on Bachtrack

Ruth Crawford Seeger - Andante from String Quartet (1931) 

Béla Bartók - Divertimento (1939) for string orchestra 

Ann Cleare - eyam i (it takes an ocean not to) (2009-13) 

Carol McGonnell, clarinet

Georg Friedrich Haas - lunar eclipse (2018)

Michael Katz, cello; Steven Beck, piano; Carol McGonnell, clarinet

After a year of online performances, Argento is thrilled to return to the concert stage 

and perform in the flesh to a live audience. Author George Grella wrote "Being together for live music increases social bonds among all at hand, musicians and audiences, and that both enhances the vitality of the music making in a positive feedback loop and creates the deep and unpredictable alchemy of a live performance. The point of being present, live, is to not just hear something but feel something."


The concert will be live streamed, but audiences are encouraged to join us in person.


Ruth Crawford Seeger wrote her most famous work, her string quartet in 1931, specifying that the 3rd movement, an Andante, can be performed by a string orchestra as well. This movement is structured on a repeating inhalation/exhalation gesture.


Bartók’s Divertimento for Strings, was written as a true concert piece for pleasure (literally “divertimento”) for Paul Sacher, but have Bartók's characteristic rigor and depth. Argento performs a version for 15 strings. The outer movements burst with rhythmic energy and virtuosity, contrasting with the meditative atmosphere of the other works on the program.


The featured work on the program is a recent work (2018) by Georg Friedrich Haas entitled lunar eclipse. This work embodies Haas’ sonorous microtonal world through the resonances of the piano, played by Steven Beck, coupled with timbres from clarinet, basset horn, bass clarinet, played by Carol McGonnell and cello, performed by Michael Katz.


The concert ends with eyam i (2009-2013), composed for Argento’s clarinettist, Carol McGonnell, by fellow Irish composer Ann Cleare. Eyam is a small village in Derbyshire, England, that responded to the discovery of a plague there in 1665, by shutting down its borders and isolating, rather than letting the infection spread. The piece deals with isolation and infiltration.

Argento's 2021-22 season programming is made possible by the Reed Foundation, 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 Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.


Did you miss our online concert?  View the archived performance below!

Complete Program Notes

Download Complete Program Notes

Reiko Füting - tanz.tanz (2010)
Doori Na, violin

Allain Gaussin - La chevelure de Bérénice (1990)

Andile Khumalo - Tracing Hollow Traces (2013)
Carol McGonnell, clarinet


Selections from Mystery Variations

Giuseppe Colombi - Chiacona (17th century)
Pascal Dusapin - 50 notes en 3 variations (2010)
Fred Lerdahl - There and Back Again (2010)
Martin Matalon - Polvo (2010)
Magnus Lindberg - Duello (2010)
Michael Katz, cello

Arthur Kampela - Layers for a transparent orgasm (1991)
Karl Kramer, horn

Stephanie Griffin - Un cygne des temps (2016)

Franz Gruber - Silent Night arr. Matthew Greenbaum for seven violas (2011)
Stephanie Griffin, viola

When Argento first presented a concert of featured soloists in December of 2004 at the Italian Academy of New York, we never imagined that 16 years later we would be presenting a similar program in a digital format due to pandemic restrictions. But here we are, and thankfully, there is a wealth of adventurous music written for solo instrument, which we can assemble into a concert format for our audiences to mark the end of this tumultuous year. Please join us as we continue to bring our audiences innovative musical performances!

Argento's 2020-21 season programming has been made possible by 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.


In this video series, we are sending you a rain check of the premieres that were slated to be performed in spring 2020 in the form of a short interview with composers Bethany Younge, Yotam Haber, and Sang Song. Later in the summer, we will bring you freshly recorded performances and gems remixed from our media archives.

Release dates: 5/1: Bethany Yonge ; 5/15: Yotam Haber ; 6/1: Sang Song ; 6/15: Watercolors ; 7/1: New York Counterpoint ; 7/15: Chroma ; 8/1 Flicker ; 8/15 Pierre Boulez ; 9/1 Bernhard Lang ; 9/15: Georg Friedrich Haas ; 10/1: Mahler ; 10/15: Hurel - Loops II ; 11/1: Hurel - ... à mesure ; 12/1: Tristan Murail


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.

Feuilles a travers les cloches - Tristan Murail
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