The JACK Quartet ~ Interview/Preview of Their Rite of Summer Concert

The JACK Quartet are L to R: Ari Streisfeld (violin), Christopher Otto (violin), Kevin MacFarland (cello) and John Pickford Richards (viola) ~ Photo courtesy of Henrik Olund

The JACK Quartet are one of the most requested new music ensembles of our time, and continue to champion the works of Cage, Ligeti and Xenakis as well as many talented living composers.
Their current CD, simply titled Jack Quartet is on the Wigmore Hall Live label, and features the group live in concert. You can purchase it here or on the link at the bottom.

The quartet’s violinist (one of two, at least) Ari Streisfeld had some time to talk about the free concert that’s part of the Rite of Summer Festival coming up on Saturday, August 4th at Govenor’s Island at 1 and 3 PM (That’s right, twice in case you miss one, or want to see them again).

CM: Can you talk about the program for the Rite of Summer concert on Saturday?

Ari: It’s a really nice program that we are excited about! There are a lot of young composers on the program, and there are some older composers, particularly one very old composer! I’ve made some arrangements of music by Guillaume de Machaut, and we played that quite a bit in the past, so we are bringing that back. And we’re kind of preparing that with the music of several young composers, all of which we work with–In fact, all of these pieces have been written for us. Brian Baumbusch‘s quartet “Mental Eruption” we had just premiered in Bali, which was great! Brian had been working a lot with a gamelan ensemble, and the string quartet he wrote for us is inspired by Balinese music in various ways, so that’s a brand new piece that we’ll be playing

Ken Thomson‘s Thaw is going to be premiered in its entirety at our concert in NJ on Thursday, but on Saturday, we’re going to play one of the movements. It’s a pretty substantial work and a new piece for us–We are going to record it next week for a release on Cantaloupe, and we are excited about that!

Payton MacDonald is another composer we work with quite a bit! He took two segments from two other works he wrote for us in the past, but those pieces were for string quartet with other instruments. We told him that we loved those pieces so much, but the other instruments included percussion and childrens’ choir and a bunch of other things, so we asked him to make a version of this piece for just quartet that we could take on tour, so he put this together for us and we are premiering it on Saturday. The other piece by a young composer is by David Crowell, who is a saxophone player and a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble. He went to school with us in Eastman, so we’ve known him for a long time. He wrote us a piece years back called “The Open Road” that we’ll be playing on Saturday as well. A lot of newer music by young composers paired with Guillaume de Machaut and a movement from the great Charles Ives‘ 2nd String Quartet. So, kind of a pairing of the younger generation of music with a couple of pieces by older composers. Ives and Machaut were revolutionary and experimental, and it sort of shows how that tradition is continuing with the younger generation–the newer pieces are also pushing boundaries.

David Crowell: The Open Road (excerpt; Clefworks Festival, Montgomery, AL; 2010)

Click here for information on the Rite of Summer Festival concert on Saturday

Click here to buy JACK Quartet’s Wigmore Hall CD

The JACK Quartet (

Rite of Summer Music Festival | Governors Island, New York


3 thoughts on “The JACK Quartet ~ Interview/Preview of Their Rite of Summer Concert

  1. Pingback: JACK QUARTET Pre-Concert Interview with Chris Mcgovern | Rite of Summer Music Festival | Governors Island, New York

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