Friction Presents

In the Works

Sep 23, 2022
7:30 p.m.
Noe Valley Ministry,  San Francisco

La terre est bleue comme une orange for String Quartet (2019)


Line Drawing (2017)


A Song About Unity (2020)


The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows: the meantime (2019)


String Quartet no. 4 (1999)


Geoffrey Gordon (b. 1968)


Alex Dowling (b. 1987)


Andrew Rodriguez (b. 1989)


Annika Socolofksy (b. 1990)


Pēteris Vasks (b. 1946)

Program Notes

La terre est bleue comme une orange for String Quartet (2019) - Geoffrey Gordon (b. 1968)


Established composer Geoffrey Gordon’s music is daringly dramatic and inspired by a diverse selection of art across multiple mediums and history.


This piece was written as a response to a poem by Paul Éluard from his collection “Love Poetry”


The earth is blue like an orange

Never an error the words do not lie

They do not give you more to sing

At the turn of the kisses to hear

The madmen and the loves

She her mouth of alliance

All the secrets all the smiles

And what clothes of indulgence

To believe it naked.

Wasps are blooming green

Dawn is around the neck

A collar of windows

Wings cover the leaves

You have all the solar joys

All the sun on the earth

On the paths of your beauty.


This poem is one of the most famous surrealist poems in existence and it is perfectly embodied in the music. Gordon’s music shares a similar dramatic shock of the contradiction of the opening statement. 


Oscillating between calm and dramatic, the music is never truly settled and shares a sense of surrealism as it is hard to know which musical world the piece inhabits. It is full of the bold contrast that is suggested by Éluard.


This piece was commissioned by Friction Quartet.

Line Drawing (2017) - Alex Dowling (b. 1987)


Irish Composer and producer Alex Dowling often uses a unique blend of electronic and acoustic sounds to define his music. His current work involves repurposing autotune and other vocal effects to create strange and otherworldly extensions of the voice.


In Line Drawing, the music is stripped down to its most basic. This music is an exercise in crafting a piece out of small parts. When put together the piece is more than the sum of these parts. In the very start the work defies the general definition of a string quartet by having the cello play in the same range as the highest range of a violin.


The haunting melody and harmonics of the rest of the quartet blend together to create something that is more than just disparate lines. A short experience, this piece nevertheless impresses the feeling of looking through a kaleidoscope; you feel every detail, but see the whole. 


This piece was commissioned for the Skellig Quartet by the 2017 West Cork Chamber Music Festival Composition Competition.


Dowling is currently being commissioned by the Friction Commissioning Initiative III. The Initiative will be commissioning four composers to write music specifically for the album medium. Visit for more information.

A Song About Unity (2020) - Andrew Rodriguez (b. 1989)


Composer and producer Andrew Rodriguez first began his first musical endeavors as the guitarist for metal/hardcore bands as a teenager. This influence has persisted to this day with his interest in blending the world of indie rock with traditional composition often through the aid of electronics.


A Song About Unity is a discovery in what the ideal of unity means. When you hear the title you may imagine the piece using the homogenous sounds of a string quartet to show a version of unity. However the time and place that this was written has an effect on the presentation of unity.


Much of the piece is combative and aggressive, alluding to the difficulty in achieving unity. The quartet is asked to play complicated rhythms, passing them back and forth at a frantic pace. Ironically, true unity of string quartet technique is required to play at different times so accurately. The dissonance grows until the end piece when there is a feeling of coming together. 


This too is impeded by a few well placed dissonant notes, suggesting the idea that we will keep working towards unity, even if it never truly occurs.


This piece was commissioned for the Del Sol Quartet with the support of the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music.

Rodriguez is currently being commissioned by the Friction Commissioning Initiative III. The Initiative will be commissioning four composers to write music specifically for the album medium. Visit for more information.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows: the meantime (2019) - Annika Socolofsky (b. 1990)


Composer and avant folk vocalist Annika Socolofsky explores corners and colors of the voice frequently deemed to be “untrained” and not “classical.” This exploration of sound extends to all of the diverse ensembles and instruments she writes for.


This piece describes something so familiar yet difficult to place. The concept for the  piece comes from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a collection of words invented by John Koenig that “aims to fill a hole in the [English] language—to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for.” The title for this piece comes from the definition for “the meantime.”


the meantime

n. the moment of realization that your quintessential future self isn’t ever going to show up, which forces the role to fall upon the understudy, the gawky kid for whom nothing is easy, who spent years mouthing their lines in the wings before being shoved into the glare of your life, which is already well into its second act.


This piece was written in 2019 and was commissioned for the Callisto Quartet by the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival.

Socolofksy is currently being commissioned by the Friction Commissioning Initiative III. The Initiative will be commissioning four composers to write music specifically for the album medium. Visit for more information.

String Quartet no. 4 (1999) - Pēteris Vasks (b. 1946 )


Prolific composer Pēteris Vasks is known not only for his atmospheric writing but for including elements of ancient and folk music into his compositions. These influences are never direct quotes, but instead inspiration from the music traditions of his home country, Latvia.


While most of his works are related to the relationship between Human and Nature this string quartet has a different source of inspiration. Vasks says of the work, “While working on the score, I often reflected upon the passing century. My reflections were somber ones. There has been so much bloodshed and destruction, and yet love’s power and idealism have helped to keep the world in balance. I wanted to speak of these things in my new quartet, not from the sidelines but with direct emotion and sensitivity.”


Indeed Vasks addresses the events of the century with true heart. Split between five movements, each of the first four movements pass by nearly attacca with a sense of conflict and love between them. The last movement, titled “Meditation”, offers a moment to reflect on the previous music and is one of the most notable and emotional moments of the entire work. 


This piece was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by Mrs. Ralph I. Dorfman.

Composer Bios

Alex Dowling is an Irish composer and producer. His current work involves repurposing autotune and other vocal effects to create strange and otherworldly extensions of the voice.


Recent work includes a commission from Irish National Opera to create a work for boy soprano as part of their 20 Shots of Opera project and a collaboration with director Blanka Zizka and visual artist Rosa Barba for the show ‘There’ at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. His album of electronic vocal works, Reality Rounds, was released in January 2020 on Carrier Records and is described as “an enthralling trance of live-processed vocals and synthesizers" (The Road to Sound). His music has been performed by the Irish RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Crash Ensemble, Prism Saxophone Quartet, orkest de ereprijs, and Mivos String Quartet, and has been featured at festivals including Bang on a Can and the Young Composers Meeting, Netherlands. He has also written music for theater and laptop orchestra, and his audiovisual installation Bodysnatcher was exhibited at the Eyebeam Gallery, NY and toured many other countries.


Dowling was recently named a MacDowell Fellow and an artist-in-residence at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming. Awards include the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, Jerome Hynes Composer Award, and the West Cork Chamber Music Composition Award. He has an MPhil in Music & Media Technology from Trinity College, Dublin and studied composition as a PhD fellow at Princeton University.

Annika Socolofsky is a composer and avant folk vocalist who explores corners and colors of the voice frequently deemed to be "untrained" and not "classical."


Described as “unbearably moving” (Gramophone) and “just the right balance between edgy precision and freewheeling exuberance” (The Guardian), her music erupts from the embodied power of the human voice and is communicated through mediums ranging from orchestral and operatic works to unaccompanied folk ballads and unapologetically joyous Dolly Parton covers. Annika writes extensively for her own voice with chamber ensemble, including composing a growing repertoire of “feminist rager-lullabies” titled Don’t say a word, which serves to confront centuries of damaging lessons taught to young children by retelling old lullaby texts for a new, queer era. Annika has taken Don’t say a word on the road, performing with a number of ensembles including Eighth Blackbird, Albany Symphony, Knoxville Symphony, New European Ensemble, and Latitude 49, among others.


Her research focuses on physiology in contemporary vocal music, using the music of Dolly Parton to create a pedagogical approach to composition that is inclusive of a wide range of vocal qualities and colors. She is Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Colorado Boulder and holds her PhD in Composition from Princeton University.

Andrew Rodriguez’s interest in music began with stints as the guitarist for various metal/hardcore bands as a teenager. This path culminated with three full-length albums as one of the main songwriters for the hardcore/punk band Close Your Eyes on Chicago-based label, Victory Records. Rodriguez’s history as a performer sculpts the core of his musical identity. Having spent over three years touring the country, Andrew’s passion for the DIY scene continues to guide his creativity. The embedded experiences of performing intense and passionate music night after night have led to a musical language that is both raw and dramatically expressive. His music combines a personal history and love of indie rock with a traditional education in composition, and is often expanded upon with the use of live electronics. 


Andrew also regularly works collaboratively on projects as a music producer. Having been familiar with the techniques and processes of a studio production during his time in Close Your Eyes, he began offering collaborative guidance to other artists as they prepared to record their own studio projects. As a producer, Andrew’s primary goal is to help the artist achieve their ideal vision for their project. Andrew’s inspirations vary widely, ranging from jazz, hip hop, and rock to contemporary and traditional classical genres. This wide spectrum of influences pushes him to explore truly unique and engaging approaches to songwriting and production. 


Having built his career on writing and performing music with close friends and collaborators, Andrew intends to continue this practice by developing long-lasting relationships with artists and musicians that share the same vision of collaboration. He is an alum of the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music and a former Bouman Fellow for Kinds of Kings’ 2019-20 residency at National Sawdust. Andrew holds degrees from Hardin-Simmons University and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

US/UK composer Geoffrey Gordon’s contributions to the contemporary music repertoire have been and continue to be exceptional. Intense and luxuriant harmony, passionate melody and superb handling of instrumentation and sonic textures define his music. His works include orchestral and chamber music—vocal and instrumental—as well as scores for theater, dance and film.  His music has been called “darkly seductive” (New York Times),  "complex, richly-satisfying " (BBC Music Magazine),  “luminous and ecstatic” (Gramophone),  "taut and exhilarating," (Classical Ear), “iridescent and fierce” (The Chicago Tribune), “haunting” (Strings Magazine), "gripping" (Bachtrack) and “magnificent” (Fanfare).  Critic Richard Hanlon of MusicWeb International credits Gordon's music with “flashes of vocal writing which recall Britten at his best.”  The Philharmonia identifies “his infectious style and “an ear for melody”- the New York Times his “zest for sonic experimentation”.


Honoured by a number of residencies internationally, he has twice served as composer-in-residence at the Aaron Copland House and is winner of 2017 Mario Merz Prize for Music, an honor which included a major commission and premiere for the 2018 concert season.  His work has been funded by Arts Council England, BBC Radio 3, Radio France, the Barlow Endowment, the National Endowment for the Arts, the United Performing Arts Fund, the Concert Artists Guild, the American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer, the MacArthur Foundation, the American Music Center, the Abelson Foundation, the Mary Flagler Cary Trust, the Cheswatyr Foundation and the Bush Foundation.  He has been in residence at the La Napoule Arts Foundation in Cannes, and at the historic Cliff Dweller Club in Chicago.  He has been nominated for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's Elise Stoeger Prize, and recognized by the Academy of Arts and Letters.  He has received academic fellowship support from Boston University, New York University and the Guildhall in London.  


Mr Gordon has worked with (or soon will work with) some of the best ensembles in the world, including The Philharmonia,  BBC Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Brussels Philharmonic, the Munich Philharmonic, the Copenhagen Philharmonic, the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, Malmö Symfoniorkester, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, the Cleveland Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, the English String Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic, Britten Sinfonia, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, JACK Quartet, Ensemble Meitar, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and the International Contemporary Ensemble, among many others. Mr. Gordon has also served as an ASCAP representative in Washington, lobbying Congress on behalf of copyright protection and composers’ rights.

Pēteris Vasks was born on 16 April 1946 in Aizpute in Latvia as the son of a Baptist pastor who was well-known in Latvia. Vasks began his musical education at the local music school in Aizpute. He subsequently produced his first compositions and also studied the double bass at the Emīls Dārziņš Music School in Riga (1959-64). Vasks continued his double bass studies with Vytautas Sereika at the Lithuanian Conservatory in Vilnius up to 1970 before his one year of military service in the Soviet Army. Vasks's orchestral career had already began as early as 1961 as a member of various symphony and chamber orchestras, including the Latvian Philharmonic Orchestra (1966 to 1969), Lithuanian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra (1969 to 1970) and the Latvian Radio and Television Orchestra (1971 to 1974). From 1973 to 1978, Vasks additionally studied composition with Valentin Utkin at the Latvian Music Academy in Riga. During the following years, he was a music teacher in Salacgrīva, Zvejniekciems und Jelgava and has taught composition at the Emīls Dārziņš Music School in Riga since 1989. During the Soviet period, Vasks suffered under the repressions of Russian cultural doctrine due to his beliefs and artistic convictions, but the Latvian composer’s works have swiftly achieved widespread recognition during the past few years. Choral music of major importance within Vasks Œuvre. His instrumental works are performed around the world by renowned musicians and frequently used by choreographers.


Vasks's compositions incorporate archaic, folklore elements from Latvian music and place them within a dynamic and challenging relationship with the language of contemporary music. The works are frequently given programmatic titles based on natural processes. Vasks’ intentions are however not so much a purely poetic praise of nature or showy tone painting, but rather the pursuit of themes such as the complex interaction between man and nature and the beauty of life on the one hand but also the imminent ecological and moral destruction of the world which he expresses in musical language. Frequent reference is made to his personal biography and the recent history of suffering on the part of the Latvian people. At the early age of 10, Vasks had already composed a freedom-fighting choral song in reaction to the sufferings of those who had been expelled from their houses and sent to detention camps overnight. The brass quintet Music for Fleeting Birds composed in 1977 can be understood as the yearning hope for freedom of travel which at that time was not permitted by the Soviet occupation, whereas the Musica dolorosa for strings dating from the year 1983 describes the extremely personal and intense mourning on the death of his sister. Together with the Musica adventus (1996), Musica appassionata (2002) and Musica serena (2015) the four "Musicae" for string orchestra form a cycle.  

Vasks also views his three symphonies – the 1st Symphony for strings (“Voices”, 1991), the 2nd Symphony (1998/99) for large orchestra and the 3rd Symphony (2005) for large orchestra – as reflections of recent political events in the Baltic states and their effects on man and the environment.

Pēteris Vasks was appointed as the Main Composer of the Stockholm New Music Festival in 1996. The same year, he was awarded the Herder Prize from the Alfred Toepfer Foundation and the Baltic Assembly Prize. Vasks received the Latvian Great Music Award on three occasions: for Litene in 1993, for Distant Light in 1998 and for the 2nd Symphony in 2000. Vasks was created as an honorary member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences in 1994 and a member of the Royal Swedish Music Academy in Stockholm in 2001. In 2002, the composer became an honorary senator of the Latvian Cultural Academy in Riga. In 2005, he received the Cannes Classical Award for recordings of the violin concerto Distant Light and the 2nd Symphony. In 2021, he received the Grand Music Award of Latvia for his String Quartet No. 6. Vasks was Composer in Residence at the Presteigne Festival (2006) and Vale of Glamorgan Festival (2006, 2016), the Usedom Music Festival (2010), the Zurich Chamber Orchestra (2011/12) and the Canberra Music Festival (2012). In 2016 Vasks received the State Cultural Award of the Republic of Latvia and in 2019 the Honorary Diploma of the Latvian President. In 2022 Vasks has been awarded the Preis der Europäischen Kirchenmusik [European Church Music Prize] as well as the Opus Klassik as Composer of the Year. A complete recording of the piano cycle "The Seasons", begun in 1980 and finished in 2009, was released on the Wergo Label in 2010.


Join Friction Quartet for more concerts!

Program II:


Dec 9 & 10

Description: Curated by Doug Machiz, this program features music from three of the brightest contemporary composers; all of whom are Bay Area natives. A program of fireworks, this program features a diverse selection of dynamic and highly rhythmic music. This program includes a piece commissioned by Friction Quartet.

Program III:

The Highwayman

Mar 17 & 18

Description: Explore the unity of voice and strings with this program featuring soprano, Cara Gabrielson. Curated by Otis Harriel, this program contains a varied collection of songs and pieces from the late 1800's to current day. This program features music from Michi Wianko, a composer from Friction's upcoming Commissioning Initiative III. This program  includes a piece commissioned by Friction Quartet.

Program IV:

Lyric Suite

May 5 & 6

Description: Catch two mainstays of the string quartet repertoire reverently interpreted by Friction Quartet. Curated by Kevin Rogers, this concert presents two complex 20th century works that contain some of the most emotional and passionate passages of the whole quartet repertory.