The talented musicians of Arx Duo dreamed up this collaboration to bring the extensive range of the percussion world and the harmonic soundscapes of the string quartet together for a unique concert experience.
To date there are three completed commissions for this instrumentation-- written by composers Jason Treuting of So Percussion, Michael Laurello, and Thomas Kotcheff-- with more pieces in the works! Arx Duo has teamed up with Bay Area based new music advocates, Friction Quartet to help bring this new music to life.
Friction Quartet exists to modernize the chamber music experience and expand the string quartet repertoire. Friction achieves this mission by commissioning new works, curating imaginative programs, collaborating with artists, and presenting interactive educational outreach. They gave their Carnegie Hall debut as part of the Kronos Quartet Workshop in 2016 and returned on March 24, 2018, to play Black Angels at "The '60s" festival. They have participated in the Shouse Institute at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival for two consecutive years, giving their Detroit debut and appearing with Paul Watkins of the Emerson Quartet.
Friction received a Chamber Music America grant to commission a piano quintet from composer and steel pan percussionist Andy Akiho that was premiered in 2016. They were the first ensemble in residence at the Center for New Music in San Francisco and have held residencies with the Napa Valley Performing Arts Association, SF Friends of Chamber Music, and Old First Concerts. They have just conluded their first season with the San Francisco Symphony's Adventures in Music program, providing interdisciplinary music education to 3rd, 4th, and 5th-grade students.
While Friction has garnered international attention as commissioners and interpreters of new music, they are also devoted to performing masterworks of the string quartet repertoire. They were the second place winner of the 2016 Schoenfeld International String Competition and were quarter-finalists in the 2015 Fischoff Competition. Friction placed second at the 2015 Frances Walton Competition and received the 2012 Berkeley Piano Club Award. Friction has participated in the St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar, The St. Lawrence String Quartet Emerging Quartet program, the Banff Chamber Music Residency, and the Deer Valley Music Festival.
arx duo's bio
Aspiring to expand the genre of percussion chamber music, arx duo is dedicated to the creation and presentation of new works involving percussion, as well as the education of young artists striving to engage with audiences through the creation of new works. They have had premiere performances throughout the globe, conducted workshops on three continents, and worked with a variety of composers and artists to bring new creations to audiences everywhere.
Early in 2018, arx duo premiered Dominic Murcott’s Harmonic Canon at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in UK. This summer, they will perform as the Ensemble in Residence at Artosphere Music Festival in Fayetteville, Arkansas. They continually perform recitals and collaborative concerts throughout the US. As members of The Percussion Collective Robert van Sice, now in its opening season, they premiered Garth Neustadter’s Seaborne this year, and have presented concerts and master classes at multiple universities.
With a repertoire ranging from established masters to today’s newest compositional voices, arx duo has worked closely with composers such as Alejandro Viñao, James Wood, and Ted Hearne. Mari and Garrett have served as artists in residence at Michigan State University and Lake George Music Festival, and currently are Faculty at the Young Artist Summer Program at Curtis Summerfest. Always seeking opportunities to bring percussion to new audiences, the group has given concerts, workshops, and master classes at universities and conservatories in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
The name "arx duo" comes from the artists’ desire to forge new connections and artistic pathways or "arcs" within the genre, expanding the opportunities for their music to reach new audiences.
Those Whose Lips Smashed Unimagined Skies
for marimba, vibraphone, and string quartet
Duration: 23 minutes
Michael Laurello (b. 1981) is an American composer, recording/mixing engineer, and pianist whose music reflects his fascination with temporal dissonance and emotional immediacy.
Oblique Music for 2 plus (blank)
Duration: 11 minutes
In 2010, Jason was commissioned by the League of Composers Orchestra in NYC to write a piece for So Percussion plus string orchestra. The result was a work in three connected movements called Oblique Music for 4 plus (blank). The title comes from a set of cards published by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt in 1975 intended to present a constraint intended to help musicians break their creative blocks. “Cut it in half” “What would your closest friend do?” etc.... He was intrigued by the cards at the time and used them in the writing of the piece and felt it only right to give credit where credit was due.
Since the premiere in 2010, the piece found a life of its own in many guises. The (blank) has grown from string orchestra to string orchestra plus wind octet when So Percussion performed the piece at Idylwild Arts Academy in CA and the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder CO.
The (blank) shrunk to string quartet when So toured the work with the Calder Quartet and later the JACK quartet. And most recently, the 4 became a 1 when Jason performed the work solo with JACK and the Yellow Barn Festival.
Each time, the core structure of the work stays the same, but something new is found as well.
In its latest iteration, Jason is excited to make a version for 2 plus (blank) for the Arx Duo. In the reworking, he will look for ways to highlight the shared set up ideas that Garrett and Mari often bring to their performance and weave that approach into the string writing to make Oblique Music for 2 plus (blank).
Duration: 20 minutes
The title bang Z is derived from the name of a small, high-pitched, Chinese wood block called bangzi. A set of these high-pitched, piccolo wood blocks are a central timbre of this work. bang Z is built around sudden and drastic juxtapositions that suddenly shift the piece in new directions. This is done through abrupt tempo changes, interjections of musical material, and unexpected harmonic shifts.