Brooklyn Rider releases Brooklyn Rider Almanac – Its New Mercury Classics Album of Specially Commissioned Works – on September 30

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Brooklyn Rider releases Brooklyn Rider Almanac – Its New Mercury Classics Album of Specially Commissioned Works – on September 30 

Brooklyn Rider—“the future of chamber music,” according to Strings magazine—celebrates its 10th anniversary this fall with a major multi-disciplinary project called the Brooklyn Rider Almanac, beginning with a new Mercury Classics album of specially commissioned work from a diverse group of composers, set for worldwide release on September 30. In the cross-disciplinary spirit of Der Blaue Reiter (“The Blue Rider”), the legendary European artistic collective that is the group’s namesake, each work—by musicians including Bill Frisell, Padma NewsomeVijay IyerAoife O’DonovanGlenn Kotche from the Grammy Award-winning rock band Wilcoand Greg Saunier from the rock band Deerhoof—is inspired by a creative muse of the composer’s choice from the past half-century, ranging from groundbreaking composer Igor Stravinsky to king of funk James Brown to Mississippi novelist William Faulkner to iconic choreographer Mark Morris.


To complement the new album, the group has also initiated collaborations with artists from a wide spectrum of genres to create an ambitious body of directly related work. This will include videos, animation, choreography, photo essays, articles, interviews and remixes that will be released periodically throughout the 2014-15 season via YouTube, social media and the group’s website. Featured artists include animation artist Becky James; choreographers Brian BrooksJohn Heginbotham, and Damian Woetzel; dancer Lil Buck; fashion designer Bradon McDonald; photographers Erin Baiano and Ingrid Hertfelder; visual artist Kevork Mourad; and English professor Heidi Kim.


The group recently found success with a crowd-funding campaign for this portion of the project via Kickstarter that yielded almost $60,000, soaring past the $40,000 goal. Watch this video for more about the Brooklyn Rider Almanac.


Further setting the stage for the project and how it relates to the tradition of the string quartet, the group writes:


Inspiration has been the very lifeblood of our tradition since the days of Mozart’s six ‘Haydn’ quartets, lovingly dedicated to the progenitor of our medium. Across the musical ages, it has just as often been the case that composers look outside of the sphere of music for creative inspiration. Over a century ago, the cross-disciplinary relationship between the German composer Arnold Schoenberg and Russian-born artist Wassily Kandinsky greatly affected each of their creative psyches. The string quartet played a supporting role in their first encounter, and we look to their symbiotic friendship as a springboard for the Brooklyn Rider Almanac. … The unquenchable drive for artistic exploration and open embrace of the collective spirit displayed by Der Blaue Reiter are similarly hallmarks of today’s artistic zeitgeist, and the Brooklyn Rider Almanac attempts to honor the present.


The quartet—violinist Johnny Gandelsman, violinist Colin Jacobsen, violist Nicholas Cords and cellist Eric Jacobsen—commissioned a wide variety of composers for the Almanac, and they were inspired by a similarly wide array of muses: Australia’s Padma Newsome with her celebration of painter Albert Namatjira, of Australia’s Aboriginal Arrernte people; jazz guitarist Bill Frisell and novelist John Steinbeck; Glenn Kotche, drummer from the Grammy Award-winning rock band Wilco, and electronic music producer Jens Massel; jazz pianist Vijay Iyer and James Brown; Venezuela’s Gonzalo Grau and Chick Corea; Albanian cellist Rubin Kodheli and avant-jazz multi-instrumentalist and composer Henry Threadgill; jazz and electronic multi-instrumentalist Daniel Cords and pop-art star Keith Haring; singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan and novels of the American South by William Faulkner; multi-instrumentalist Dana Lyn and visual artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles; Greg Saunier, drummer from the rock band Deerhoof, and American composer and classics professor Christian Wolff; jazz pianist Ethan Iverson of the Bad Plus and choreographer Mark Morris; and singer-songwriter Christina Courtin and Igor Stravinsky. Also included as part of the collection will be “Exit” from Brooklyn Rider violinist Colin Jacobsen’s suite Chalk and Soot, a work that the quartet has been performing live this summer and takes inspiration from David Byrne.


In addition to this wealth of creative material, there are three tracks being released in digital format only: two extras by Padma Newsome and Bill Frisell, respectively, and a track by the Tin Hat violinist and vocalist Carla Kihlstedt, inspired by the collaborative artists Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison.



Brooklyn Rider


Mercury Classics / In a Circle Records 

International release date: September 30


1. Rubin Kodheli (b. 1977): “Necessary Henry!” (2012)

Inspired by Henry Threadgill


2. Dana Lyn (b. 1974): “Maintenance Music” (2012)

Inspired by Mierle Laderman Ukeles


3. Padma Newsome (b. 1961): “Simpson’s Gap” (2012)

1. Simpson’s Gap

2. Pizzicato Parrot

Inspired by Albert Namatjira


4. Daniel Cords (b. 1975): “The Haring Escape” (2012)

Inspired by Keith Haring


5. Aoife O’Donovan (b. 1982): “Show Me” (2014)

Inspired by William Faulkner


6. Vijay Iyer (b. 1971): “Dig The Say” (2012)

1. carry the ball

2a. this thing together

2b. up from the ground

3. to live tomorrow

Inspired by James Brown


7. Greg Saunier (b. 1969): “Quartet, Parts One & Two” (2012)

Inspired by Christian Wolff


8. Ethan Iverson (b. 1973): “Morris Dance” (2012)

Inspired by Mark Morris


9. Colin Jacobsen (b. 1978): “Exit” (2014)

Shara Worden, vocals

Inspired by David Byrne


10. Gonzalo Grau (b. 1972): “Five-Legged Cat” (2014)

Inspired by Chick Corea


11. Christina Courtin (b. 1984): “tralala” (2012)

Inspired by Igor Stravinsky


12. Glenn Kotche (b. 1970): “Ping Pong Fumble Thaw” (2014)

Inspired by Jens Massel


13. Bill Frisell (b. 1951): “John Steinbeck” (2012)

1. August 12

Inspired by John Steinbeck


Bonus digital only tracks: 


Carla Kihlstedt (b. 1971): “Forestbed” (2014)

from The Architect’s Brother

Inspired by Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison


Padma Newsome (b. 1961): “Simpson’s Gap” (2012)

Extra Variation

Inspired by Albert Namatjira


Bill Frisell (b.1951): “John Steinbeck” (2012)

2. April 14

Inspired by John Steinbeck




© 21C Media Group, August 2014

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