The Museum of Modern Art, Floor 1, Sculpture Garden
Photos courtesy of the Ansonia Quartet

The Ansonia Quartet: Sumire Hirotsuru and Byungchan Lee, violins; Jocelin Pan, viola; Isabel Kwon, cello

John Woolrich (United Kingdom, b. 1954)
String Quartet no. 6—Badinerie (2017)
World premiere

John Woolrich founded and directed his own new-music group and a London festival called Hoxton New Music Days. He has had long associations with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Aldeburgh Festival, and Dartington International Summer School. He has received a series of prestigious commissions from organizations including the BBC, Barbican Center, London Sinfonietta, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Of Badinerie (Jest) he observes, “Badinerie is one of a bundle of six quartets I have written recently, collectively called A Book of Inventions. It is constructed from broken shards of music, glued together to make a single movement. It lasts about 10 minutes.”

Lei Liang (China/United States, b. 1972)
Gobi Gloria (2006)
New York premiere

Lei Liang has been commissioned by dozens of ensembles and soloists, including performers on Chinese traditional instruments. He is also a scholar of traditional and contemporary Asian music. He writes, “Gobi Gloria belongs to a series of compositions that grew out of my admiration for Mongolian music. . . . The piece alludes to various genres of Mongolian music that include long-song as well as the music of dance and shaman rituals. It concludes with a rendering of a folk song that I heard during my visit to the Nei Monggol region in 1996. The melody is played against its own inversion, retrograde, and retrograde-inversion in an otherwise mostly heterophonic texture.”

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh (Azerbaijan/Germany, b. 1947)
Oasis, for string quartet and recorded sound (1998)
In one movement
Probable New York premiere

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh completed studies in piano and a doctorate in musicology in her native Baku. Her music is frequently played internationally. Oasis was composed for the Kronos Quartet in 1998. Tonight’s performance is believed to be the New York premiere, though that has proven difficult to verify. Ali-Zadeh has written a colorful description of an oasis, a land of “repose and prosperity” that leads travelers to dream “about shady trees and . . . about hearing the mellifluous singing of the gazelles [a gazelle being a poetic form of a mugam, a structure of classical Azerbaijani love poems]. But to reach this blessed land, this El Dorado, is not so easy. Tests still await the travelers: there is a long road ahead, full of dangers and agitations.”

Paul Desenne (Venezuela/United States, b. 1959)
Diásporas (2017)
World premiere

Paul Desenne’s work reflects a deep knowledge of Latin American music. Of the genesis of the five-moment Diásporas, he writes, “In the distant fogs of my memory I then heard the two violins of my 19th-century great-great-grandparents from Bohemia playing klezmer music, the sound of which suddenly became very present. That day, in Harvard Square, a Tibetan monk was chanting rhythmic protest rap closely into his microphone. . . . This odd conjunction gave birth to the idea of ‘Kletzlama,’ the first long piece of the work after the opening dance, and Diásporas, the general title and concept. Strands of tango also fell into the mix,” along with “shamanic chanting from the plains of the Orinoco and bits of Satie’s first ‘Gnossienne.’ The result is like traditional music from nowhere, even more unrooted than academic music; the real feeling of diaspora.”

The Museum of Modern Art established Summergarden in 1971. In keeping with MoMA’s history of presenting jazz and classical music in the Sculpture Garden, this year’s concert series once again welcomes the participation of The Juilliard School and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Titled New Music for New York, the series comprises four evenings of adventurous contemporary music, with premieres each night. Juilliard concerts are performed by members of the New Juilliard Ensemble and the Ansonia Quartet, under the artistic direction of Joel Sachs. Mr. Sachs has assembled two distinctive programs of recent compositions, which are enjoying their New York premieres. Jazz at Lincoln Center has selected two stylistically different jazz ensembles whose concerts emphasize original works, each with one world premiere.

Summergarden is free and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The Sculpture Garden may close if attendance reaches maximum capacity. Entrance to Summergarden is through the Sculpture Garden gate on West 54 Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues. The Sculpture Garden opens at 7:00 p.m., and concerts start at 8:00 p.m. and run approximately one hour to 90 minutes. The Sculpture Garden closes at 10:00 p.m. In the event of rain, concerts will be held in The Agnes Gund Garden Lobby, and the Museum’s 54 Street entrance will open at 7:30 p.m. The exhibition galleries are closed during Summergarden. The Garden Bar, located on the northeast end of the Sculpture Garden, features a selection of homemade snacks, draft beer, wine, and nonalcoholic beverages. In the event of rain, the Garden Bar is closed.

This event is part of Summergarden: New Music for New York.