(a place is a place) is a bi-coastal collaborative project bringing together two prominent violin/viola duos in the United States — andPlay (NYC) and Aperture Duo (LA). This program includes three newly commissioned works by Carolyn Chen (LA), Matt Evans (NYC), and Andrew McIntosh (LA), as well as à l’unisson X (2015) by Eva-Maria Houben. (a place is a place) will be premiered in Los Angeles presented by Equal Sound on January 9th 2020, followed by an additional performance in New York City.
With (a place is a place), the sensibilities and lush sonic worlds of these four composers are aligned to work in tandem, creating a unique experience that draws one’s listening towards the richness of the ephemeral. Chen considers her work to “retune habits of our ears,” bringing music and sound into conversation with space, light, and action. Evans’ compositions capture a fragility of sound with textures inspired by architecture and visual phenomenon. McIntosh, a violinist and violist, uses his intimate knowledge of string instruments to create harmonic landscapes that combine transparency and surprise in a dialogue between the ordered and the irrational. Houben, a member of the Wandelweiser collective, explores gradations of sound and silence, using stillness to expand our perception of time.
In the past six years, both andPlay and Aperture have raised the profile for this instrumentation through commissioning over 35 new works in total, creating innovative programs that highlight emerging and lesser-known composers, and giving high-caliber performances. (a place is a place) includes both duo and quartet works, highlighting both ensembles’ individual identities as well as their combined power.
Described by I Care If You Listen as “enthusiastic champions for new music and collaboration” and performing “with a welcoming and dynamic spirit,” andPlay is committed to expanding the existing violin/viola duo repertoire through performing rarely heard works and commissioning emerging composers. The New York City-based duo of Maya Bennardo, violin, and Hannah Levinson, viola, first played to an eager crowd on Fire Island in the summer of 2012 and has since commissioned over thirty works. Recent highlights include a five-city tour in Sweden performing their Translucent Harmonies program, appearances on the Oh My Ears Festival (Phoenix) and Re:Sound Festival (Cleveland), and a recording residency at EMPAC (Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, Troy, NY). Maya and Hannah met while studying at Oberlin Conservatory and continued their educations at New York University and the Manhattan School of Music.
Aperture Duo curates fearless programs that explore new sounds, voices, and techniques through the lens of violin and viola chamber music. Lauded for their “precision and interpretation” along with their “distinct sense of unity and independence” (icareifyoulisten.com), Los Angeles-based Aperture Duo was founded in 2015 by violinist Adrianne Pope and violist Linnea Powell. Equally at home performing old and new music, Aperture Duo actively commissions diverse new works to expand the violin and viola duo repertoire. Performance credits include Tuesdays @ Monk Space, the main stage at the Carlsbad Music Festival, Music at Boston Court, L.A. Signal Lab, LA Downtown Art Walk, Brooklyn's Home Audio Concert Series, UC Santa Barbara Summer Music Festival, Window Concert Series at the Craft in America Center, and Hear Now Music Festival.
Carolyn Chen has made music for supermarket, demolition district, and the dark. Her work reconfigures the everyday to retune habits of our ears, through sound, text, light, image, and movement. Recent projects include a marble chase and commissions for Klangforum Wien and the LA Phil New Music Group. Described by The New York Times as “the evening’s most consistently alluring … a quiet but lush meditation,” Chen’s work has been supported by the Fulbright Program, Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, Stanford University Sudler Prize, ASCAP Foundation Fred Ho Award, and commissions from MATA Festival, impuls Festival, and Emory Planetarium. Chen earned a Ph.D. in music from UC San Diego, and a M.A. in Modern Thought and Literature and B.A. in music from Stanford University, with an honors thesis on free improvisation and radical politics. She lives in Los Angeles.
Matt Evans (1988) has been passionately listening to air conditioning units for as long as he can remember. Since moving to Brooklyn in 2012, he's worked as a composer, percussionist and sound artist in cross-disciplinary contexts, playing in bands, performing with new music ensembles, and producing performances that integrate music and movement. Matt performs, records and co-leads collaborative projects with Tigue, Bearthoven, Man Forever, and Private Elevators and has recently begun performing and recording solo material under his own name. His compositions have been commissioned and performed by ensembles including andPlay, Aperture duo, The Dartmouth Contemporary Music Lab, Present Music, Contemporaneous, the Sound ExChange Project, Exceptet, Karl Larson and Eric Carlson. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, he studied percussion performance at the Eastman School of Music and the Ohio State University before landing in New York.
Andrew McIntosh is an internationally recognized composer and performer who teaches at the California Institute of the Arts, is a co-founder of the experimentally-minded Formalist Quartet, and co-directs Populist Records, a label dedicated to new music from Southern California. His musical interests cover a broad spectrum including historical performance practice, improvisation, microtonal tuning systems, long-form works, and the 20th-century avante-garde. He holds degrees in violin performance, composition, and early music performance from the University of Nevada, Reno, CalArts, and the University of Southern California, and principal teachers included Phillip Ruder, Martin Chalifour, Mark Menzies, Lorenz Gamma, Sue Feldman, Marc Sabat, and Wolfgang von Schweinitz. His compositions have been featured at venues including Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Gaudeamus Festival, Hamburger Klangwerktage, Moments Musicaux Aarau, Bludenzer Tage Zeitgemasse Muzik, Miller Theatre, National Sawdust, Issue Project Room, Monday Evening Concerts, and Tectonics Festival Glasgow.