In Search of Futures Past: Schoenberg the Emancipator
Feb
10
7:30 PM19:30

In Search of Futures Past: Schoenberg the Emancipator

Rite of Spring may get all the street cred, but the premiere of Schoenberg’s second quartet actually caused a riot, and here we raise a glass to the liberation of dissonance with world-renowned soprano Kiera Duffy.

PROGRAM
Anton Webern – Langsamer Satz
Béla Bartók – String Quartet No. 1
Arnold Schoenberg – String Quartet No. 2 featuring Kiera Duffy, soprano

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Close Encounters: Sipping a Glass of 1908 Vienna
Feb
17
4:00 PM16:00

Close Encounters: Sipping a Glass of 1908 Vienna

This is all we’ve ever wanted: a craft beer-maker to custom brew us our own pilsner, resurrected from a Schoenberg-era Viennese recipe, which you’ll be sipping as we perform–with of one of Chicago’s best views as our backdrop.

PROGRAM
-selections from-
Arnold Schoenberg – String Quartet No. 2 (featuring world-class soprano Kiera Duffy)
Webern’s – Langsamer Satz
Béla Bartók – String Quartet No. 1

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In Search of Futures Past: Schoenberg the Architect
Apr
14
7:30 PM19:30

In Search of Futures Past: Schoenberg the Architect

Rules were meant to be broken–and like his contemporary Frank Lloyd Wright, Schoenberg replaced the rules he shattered with new ones. (And unlike Falling Water, the composer’s third quartet was never in danger of collapsing during a dinner party.)

PROGRAM
Ruth Crawford-Seeger – String Quartet (1931)
Arnold Schoenberg – String Quartet No. 3

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Close Encounters: Paint Your Feelings
May
18
7:00 PM19:00

Close Encounters: Paint Your Feelings

This is your Bob Ross moment–we provide the canvases, and like all great painters of the era, you’ll unleash whatever is inside as we provide musical inspiration.

PROGRAM
-selections from-
Arnold Schoenberg – String Quartet No. 4
Elliott Carter – Fragments 1 & 2 for String Quartet
David Fulmer – A new Spektral commission

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In Search of Futures Past: Schoenberg the Visionary
May
20
2:00 PM14:00

In Search of Futures Past: Schoenberg the Visionary

  • Art Institute of Chicago - Fullerton Hall (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Schoenberg’s imprint on classical music continues to ripple outward to this day, so we’ve got a new work coming from composer David Fulmer and we’ll be climbing out on a branch of the musical family tree with Elliott Carter as we swoop into Schoenberg’s final quartet.

PROGRAM
David Fulmer – New Commission
Elliott Carter – Fragments 1 & 2
Arnold Schoenberg – String Quartet No. 4

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Spektral at Bargemusic (NYC)
Jun
3
2:00 PM14:00

Spektral at Bargemusic (NYC)

We are very happy to be headed back under the Brooklyn Bridge for a real meat-and-potatoes show at Bargemusic. Having completed our survey of the complete string quartets of Arnold Schoenberg this season, we arrive with two of the choicest selections from those epic programs.

Modeled on Schubert's Rosamunde, the String Quartet No. 3 finds Schoenberg deep in the design phase of his 12-tone system and at the same time, the music resembles Mozart and Beethoven even more enticingly in its counterpoint and melodic contours. Speaking of influences, one can't mention this notorious breaker of tonality without name-checking perhaps his most cherished compositional hero, Johannes Brahms. Back when Brahms was too progressive for the traditionalists, and too traditional for the progressives, Schoenberg held him up as the pinnacle of harmony, more revolutionary than even Wagner. Brahms's stormy–and widely adored–first string quartet closes our time out on the water in Brooklyn.

 

PROGRAM
Arnold Schoenberg: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 30
Johannes Brahms: String Quartet No. 1 in C-minor Op. 51 No. 1

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Spektral at Miller Theatre (NYC)
Jun
5
6:00 PM18:00

Spektral at Miller Theatre (NYC)

We are delighted to making our Miller Theatre debut this season with three works that are especially personal to us. We commissioned George Lewis's String Quartet No. 1.5: "Experiments in Living" for the monumental Ear Taxi Festival in Chicago in 2016, and audiences have been gasping for breath while listening to it ever since. Like a microscope constantly refocusing its lenses on a Romantic-era chord progression, Eliza Brown's String Quartet No. 1 appears on our first album, Chambers. Rounding out the program is Augusta Read Thomas's effervescent CHI, embodying Eastern concepts of energy and featured on the composer's Nimbus Records release in November of 2017.

 

PROGRAM
George Lewis: String Quartet No. 1.5: "Experiments in Living" (2016)
Eliza Brown: String Quartet No.1 (2011/2013)  (NY premiere)
Augusta Read Thomas: CHI (2017) (NYC premiere)

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An Open Rehearsal: featuring composer Eliza Brown
Nov
30
7:30 PM19:30

An Open Rehearsal: featuring composer Eliza Brown

We are about to launch a brand-new series titled Once More, With Feeling! and we want to give you a first look at our open rehearsal on Thursday, Nov 30 (7:30pm in Fulton Hall). We'll provide the pizza and drinks, and you'll get up close and personal with one of our favorite composers, Eliza Brown.

The reason we know this will be particularly illuminating and entertaining for you is that the format focuses in on getting inside the mind of the composer–something we can't do with Brahms or Shostakovich. We'll be playing Eliza's hypnotic String Quartet No. 1, and uncovering the backstory of her writing of it, giving you tools with which to understand the way it's so expertly put together, and asking for your input as we put the finishing touches on this presentation.

This concert is FREE and open to the public

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UChicago New Music Ensemble: Chicago Introductions
Nov
5
3:00 PM15:00

UChicago New Music Ensemble: Chicago Introductions

We're looking forward to meeting the new batch of composers at UChicago this year, and we're diving right in with (post-Doc fellow) Aaron Helgeson's Brief Regards for Sometimes and Maria Kaoutzani's jaune doré. 

This event is free and open to the public

*From the UChicago Music Dept. website:
The New Music Ensemble’s autumn concert celebrates the talented composers who have just joined our Department of Music: Postdoctoral Fellow Aaron Helgeson and graduate student composers Alison Yun-Fei Jiang, Maria Kaoutzani, Kevin Kay, and Ted Moore. Ensemble-in-Residence Spektral Quartet performs Helgeson’s 2006 string quartet Brief regards for sometimes and Artist-in-Residence Daniel Pesca presents his 2012 piano solo, Through glimpses of unknowing. Other NME musicians perform recent solo and chamber works by Jiang, Kaoutzani, Kay, and Moore.

A reception will follow.

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Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music: Spektral at VEGA
Sep
7
7:00 PM19:00

Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music: Spektral at VEGA

The Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music host a hip classical series at rock club Vega, and we are coming in hot with one of our signature Sampler Pack-style setlists. Our Nebraska debut features single movements from composers like Ravel/Brahms/Mendelssohn, and full-length burners from Chicago heavyweights like Augusta Read Thomas, Sam Pluta, Tomeka Reid, and Katherine Young. Also, some young upstart named Philip Glass.

Doors are at 6pm, so you can grab a drink from Vega's swingin' bar before staking out a seat. This program will have you bounding around the centuries–an intoxicating mix of diverse sonic flavors you are unlikely to hear on the same bill anywhere else.

See you soon, Lincoln.

TICKETS: $15 gen admission
All Ages

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THE DOVETAIL SERIES: Spektral + Maggie Brown
Jul
22
7:00 PM19:00

THE DOVETAIL SERIES: Spektral + Maggie Brown

In partnership with the Rebuild Foundation, we present the inaugural performance of our DOVETAIL SERIES with a concert featuring vocalist/spoken-word artist Maggie Brown at the dashing Stony Island Arts Bank. Conceived as an incubator for collaboration and exchange across Chicago’s geographic and cultural borders, the DOVETAIL SERIES pairs us with Rebuild-affiliated artist/musicians, each playing a solo set and then meeting in the middle for a devised or improvised middle set. 

Admission is FREE with an RSVP

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Chamber Music Intensive 2017: Final Concert
Jul
16
2:00 PM14:00

Chamber Music Intensive 2017: Final Concert

  • Logan Center for the Arts: 9th Floor Penthouse (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

The culmination of four days of intensive rehearsal, coaching, and masterclasses, the final performance of the 2017 CMI is a celebration of dedicated work on pieces from the Romantic period. Offering pieces by Brahms, Dvorak, Borodin, Schumann, and Debussy, this concert will also feature CMI coaches the Spektral Quartet and pianist Daniel Pesca performing a movement from Brahms’s Piano Quintet Op. 34.

FREE and open to the public

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Chamber Music Intensive 2017: Arnold Steinhardt – ‘A Life of Chamber Music'
Jul
15
5:00 PM17:00

Chamber Music Intensive 2017: Arnold Steinhardt – ‘A Life of Chamber Music'

  • Logan Center for the Arts: 9th Floor Penthouse (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

There is perhaps no more revered American string quartet than the Guarneri, and we are delighted to welcome first violinist Arnold Steinhardt as the special guest artist for the 2017 CMI. For this unique discussion, Steinhardt opens up about the inner workings of his famed ensemble, touching on rehearsal techniques, touring, conflict resolution, and the curious life of a chamber musician.

FREE and open to the public

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Chamber Music Intensive 2017: Arnold Steinhardt Masterclass
Jul
15
3:00 PM15:00

Chamber Music Intensive 2017: Arnold Steinhardt Masterclass

  • Logan Center for the Arts: 9th Floor Penthouse (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Guarneri Quartet 1st violinist Arnold Steinhardt is our special guest artist at this year's Chamber Music Intensive! Our ensembles have the privilege of performing for this world musician on the third day of the CMI, gaining access to some of the choicest knowledge in the chamber music world.

FREE and open to the public

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Chamber Music Intensive 2017: Gerard McBurney – ‘The Individual, The Natural, The Spontaneous’
Jul
13
7:00 PM19:00

Chamber Music Intensive 2017: Gerard McBurney – ‘The Individual, The Natural, The Spontaneous’

  • Logan Center for the Arts: 9th Floor Penthouse (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Composer, broadcaster, and documentarian Gerard McBurney, whom Chicago Symphony patrons will remember as the creative director of the popular Beyond the Score series, delves deep into the Chamber Music Intensive’s theme of Romantic-era music in an engaging lecture/discussion. With us on hand to perform excerpts from Ravel’s iconic string quartet as a point of departure, McBurney offers a colorful contextualization of this essential period in music history.

FREE and open to the public

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Chamber Music Intensive 2017: The Romantics
Jul
13
to Jul 16

Chamber Music Intensive 2017: The Romantics

Now in its fourth year, Spektral Quartet and the University of Chicago Department of Music present the Chamber Music Intensive on July 13-16, in partnership with the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. Titled THE ROMANTICS, the 2017 session probes the music of the late Romantic period, inviting participants to more closely examine the inspirations behind some of the pinnacles of the chamber music repertoire. We will consider music on an international stage, with Brahms at his most contemplative, Dvorak after his sojourn to America, Russians Borodin and Tchaikovsky flourishing, and the French school of Fauré and Debussy in full flower. Central to the discussion at this year’s CMI will be questions these composers wrestled with in their writing, such as what role national identity plays in composition–and how one might depart from the legacy of Beethoven.

The Chamber Music Intensive is an annual festival for committed amateurs and professional-track, college-age students looking for an immersive chamber music experience in a both inviting and rigorous environment. Coached daily by members of the Spektral Quartet and UChicago chamber music director Daniel Pesca (piano), participants assemble and polish one movement of a major work over the course of four full days, culminating in a performance at the CMI’s conclusion. Effective and efficient rehearsal techniques are taught with a hands-on approach by the faculty, and participants have masterclass opportunities with guest artists which in previous years included international recording and performing artist Kim Kashkashian, and former Vermeer Quartet violinist Shmuel Ashkenasi. The CMI faculty is pleased to welcome one of the eminent chamber musicians in the world, Guarneri Quartet violinist Arnold Steinhardt as the guest artist for 2017.

In addition to expanding musicians’ skill and agency, the CMI aims to engender a love for chamber music. Guest lectures circling the festival’s theme, social events like sight-reading parties, and group outings like picnics at Grant Park Orchestra concerts are essential elements of the festival experience.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: May 1

More info here

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Rush Hour Concerts
Jul
11
5:45 PM17:45

Rush Hour Concerts

Summer is upon us, which means that one of Chicago's most-beloved concert series is here, too! Rush Hour Concerts has been a friend of Spektral since the beginning, and we've brought everything from Verdi to Reminick to this antidote to freeway gridlock. This year we arrive with the Chicago premiere of Gerard McBurney's String Quartet No. 1 "Hildegard Quartet," which features us playing three settings of antiphons by one of history's greatest persist-ors, Hildegard von Bingen. For it, we are also required to play wind chimes, tuned water glasses, and...wait for it...three "very sharp knives."

Might want to sit somewhere other than the first row for this one.

More info at Rush Hour Concerts

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Maverick Concerts: New Foundations IV
Jul
8
8:00 PM20:00

Maverick Concerts: New Foundations IV

Maverick Concerts is a storied summer festival, and we are bringing a particularly Spektral vibe (new/old/in-between) to Woodstock, NY for our debut there. Augusta Read Thomas's ebullient new piece for us, CHI, receives its New York premiere, we give the world premiere of Gerard McBurney's String Quartet No. 1 "Hildegard Quartet," and we round out the program with Philip Glass's brooding Quartet No. 2 "Company" and Ravel's masterful String Quartet in F major.

PROGRAM
Augusta Read Thomas – CHI (2017) (New York premiere)
Gerard McBurney – String Quartet No. 1 "Hildegard Quartet" (1996) (world premiere)
Philip Glass – String Quartet No. 2 "Company" (1983)
Maurice Ravel – String Quartet in F major (1903)

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Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival: Series 4
Jun
24
7:30 PM19:30

Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival: Series 4

Assuming the good people of Walla Walla haven't gotten wind of our Feldman workout video by this point (and sent us packing), we'll be appearing a third time this week for a ruckus of a show! We'll be teaming up with festival VIPs (Timothy Christie, Norbert Lewandowski, Philip Payton, and Maria Sampen) for Shostakovich's mighty Two Pieces Op. 11 for String Octet. We're delighted to also be remounting a Walla Walla Festival commission, Robert Hutchinson's Pas De Quatre.

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Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival
Jun
22
7:00 PM19:00

Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival

Our second performance at the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival is a healthy dose of Chicago, because we love repping our home city while on the road. We'll be delivering the Washington premiere of Augusta Read Thomas's chakra-opening CHI, the deep grooves of Tomeka Reid's Prospective Dwellers, and balancing the new with one of our favorite oldies, Ravel's incomparable String Quartet.

PROGRAM
Augusta Read Thomas – CHI (2017)
Tomeka Reid – Prospective Dwellers (2016)
Maurice Ravel – String Quartet in F minor (1903)

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Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival: Spektral Quartet Deconstructed
Jun
20
6:00 PM18:00

Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival: Spektral Quartet Deconstructed

We are making our debut at the esteemed Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival this summer, spending a week in wine country, and we thought we'd introduce ourselves...by playing solos? Oh yeah! Clara and Maeve are tackling Tartini and Bach, Doyle is getting going full-scale-harmonics with Mario Lavista, and Russ is looking to add a few dozen practice hours with a solo cello number by David Reminick. We promise to keep the wine tasting till after the show...

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Icicle Creek Center for the Arts
Jun
18
7:00 PM19:00

Icicle Creek Center for the Arts

We're descending on Russ's hometown of Wenatchee, WA on our way to Walla Walla Chamber Festival, performing at the nearby Icicle Creek Center for the Arts. While our primary objective is to share the music of two brilliant Chicago composers, Augusta Read Thomas and Tomeka Reid, alongside Ravel's monumental String Quartet in F minor, the secondary objective is to collect compromising stories from Russ's childhood. 

PROGRAM
Augusta Read Thomas – CHI (2017)
Tomeka Reid – Prospective Dwellers (2016)
Maurice Ravel – String Quartet in F minor (1903)

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CONTEMPO: Tomorrow's Music Today
May
5
7:30 PM19:30

CONTEMPO: Tomorrow's Music Today

  • Logan Center for the Arts - Performance Hall (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

We're making our CONTEMPO debut this season with a performance of works by University of Chicago doctoral candidates...or more to the point, a bevy of ultra-talented composers. Time to put new music by Rodrigo Bussad, Clay Mettens, Will Myers, and Andrew McManus in your ears!

This concert is FREE and open to the public

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A Triptych: Earth, Moon, Peace – Works of Augusta Read Thomas
Apr
29
7:30 PM19:30

A Triptych: Earth, Moon, Peace – Works of Augusta Read Thomas

It would appear that Augusta Read Thomas didn't slow down her writing process one bit during the three years she spent spearheading the Ear Taxi Festival, and that's great news for us because she's written us a marvelous new quartet, titled CHI. That's "chi" as in "vital life force," so this show is going to go a lot deeper than just your ears...
(Read more)

PROGRAM
Augusta Read Thomas – CHI (commissioned by Spektral Quartet)
Augusta Read Thomas – Selene (with Third Coast Percussion)
Augusta Read Thomas – Resounding Earth (commissioned by Third Coast Percussion)

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'Playing Out' at National Sawdust
Apr
21
7:00 PM19:00

'Playing Out' at National Sawdust

Playing Out is a showcase of liberated creativity, defying definition and building new musical lexicons through the intersection of experimental jazz, improvisation, and electroacoustic music. The program features the New York premiere of an ecstatic new quartet by George Lewis (Fromm Foundation commission), as well as mesmeric numbers by Katherine Young and Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Mead Composer-in-Residence Samuel Adams. For its National Sawdust debut, Spektral Quartet is joined by flute maven Claire Chase for Anthony Cheung’s jazz-infiltrated “Real Book of Fake Tunes” (also commissioned by Fromm). Playing Out offers the prodigious possibilities that form when artistic streams of free improvisation and classical composition merge.

PROGRAM
George Lewis – String Quartet 1.5 "Experiments in Living" (2016)
Arthur Russell arr. Katherine Young – I'm Hiding Your Present From You (2013)
Samuel Adams – Quartet Movement (2016)
Anthony Cheung – The Real Book of Fake Tunes (2014)
 

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Claire Chase Recital - NU Institute for New Music
Apr
13
7:30 PM19:30

Claire Chase Recital - NU Institute for New Music

  • Northwestern University - Galvin Recital Hall (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Strap in for the Chicago premiere of Anthony Cheung's "The Real Book of Fake Tunes," a nasty bout of the flu pushed our premiere from last season to this one (let's all be thankful that we didn't try and push through that show). This performance is one entry on Claire's Northwestern University Institute for New Music recital on which she'll be playing the most recent installment from her acclaimed Density 2036 project.

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Morton Feldman Quartet No. 2 at Toledo Museum of Art
Mar
25
5:00 PM17:00

Morton Feldman Quartet No. 2 at Toledo Museum of Art

At between 5-6 hours of uninterrupted playing, the Quartet No. 2 (1983) is primarily a work intended to dislodge the listener’s concept of time–but it is also a significant feat of both mental and physical stamina on the part of the performers. Attendees are encouraged to stay for much or all of the concert, to fully experience Feldman’s beautifully disorienting score. We in Spektral Quartet are not aware of any quartet in the repertoire longer in duration, and the journey across such an expanse of time promises to be as transformative for us as it is for concertgoers.

Feldman’s epic scope creates a musical wormhole: even the most attentive listener or avid Feldman fan will find their attention wandering at some point in the span of six hours, an occurrence that is encouraged by the music and the composer. On one hand, the Second Quartet is through-composed, precisely notated in nature: a formidable and detailed blueprint that begets a sense of motion and activity. On the other hand, each listener’s journey through its carefully constructed pathways will be different. Akin to admiring the irregular symmetry of the Afghan carpets that Feldman so loved, a listener can become lost in fascination, attempting to follow a line or pattern to its end.

 

"I am not a clockmaker. I am interested in getting to time in its unstructured existence. That is, I am interested in how this wild beast lives in the jungle - not in the zoo."

–Morton Feldman

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Morton Feldman Quartet No. 2 (Chicago Premiere) at MCA
Mar
11
6:00 PM18:00

Morton Feldman Quartet No. 2 (Chicago Premiere) at MCA

Welcome to our marquee event of the 2016/17 season this March: the Chicago premiere of Morton Feldman’s iconic Quartet No. 2.

At between 5-6 hours of uninterrupted playing, the Quartet No. 2 (1983) is primarily a work intended to dislodge the listener’s concept of time–but it is also a significant feat of both mental and physical stamina on the part of the performers. Attendees are encouraged to stay for much or all of the concert, to fully experience Feldman’s beautifully disorienting score, and the 4th floor galleries of the MCA will remain open for quiet perusal. We in Spektral Quartet are not aware of any quartet in the repertoire longer in duration, and the journey across such an expanse of time promises to be as transformative for us as it is for concertgoers.
(Read more)

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Feldman No. 2: Open Rehearsal #3
Mar
7
1:00 PM13:00

Feldman No. 2: Open Rehearsal #3

  • Museum of Contemporary Art - 4th Floor Galleries (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Curious about what this 6-hour, Morton Feldman Quartet No. 2 business is all about? We're hosting open rehearsals at the Museum of Contemporary Art to give you a taste–and for us to get a sense of the space. We'll be introducing passersby to swaths of the piece, and then answering your questions. It's a fantastic way to get familiar with this iconic work, and also to get a chance to peruse the Merce Cunningham: Common Time exhibit of which our concert is an element.

FREE with museum admission

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Feldman No. 2: Open Rehearsal #2
Mar
4
1:00 PM13:00

Feldman No. 2: Open Rehearsal #2

  • Museum of Contemporary Art - 4th Floor Galleries (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Curious about what this 6-hour, Morton Feldman Quartet No. 2 business is all about? We're hosting open rehearsals at the Museum of Contemporary Art to give you a taste–and for us to get a sense of the space. We'll be introducing passersby to swaths of the piece, and then answering your questions. It's a fantastic way to get familiar with this iconic work, and also to get a chance to peruse the Merce Cunningham: Common Time exhibit of which our concert is an element.

FREE with museum admission

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