Two new works by Cheng Jin Koh and Texu Kim take stabs at examining elements of their respective cultures through the lens of a classical string quartet. Cheng’s new work will feature a dancer and the yangqin (Chinese dulcimer) alongside western strings to paint pictures of the Xiangtangshan Caves and their magnificent carvings and detailed decorations. Texu Kim’s new work for string quartet, “Ritus Sanitatem” (Right of Healing), will focus on Kim’s native Korean tradition of Byoung-goot (shamanistic healing rituals) as inspiration. In order to combine this Korean tradition with a string quartet, Kim has made the music more universal by including inspiration from medieval European chants, shaman drumming, and psychedelic rock.
Each of these new works is partnered with a twentieth-century European string quartet by Bacewicz and Bartók. These composers have each taken inspiration from their own folk traditions and have infused them with their compositional language. For Bacewicz, her favorite Polish dance, the Oberek, fills the music of the finale with movement and effervescence, while Bartók’s integration of folk music within his compositional language celebrates his recognition as one of the earliest and most revered ethnomusicologists.
Grażyna Bacewicz: String Quartet No. 4
Cheng Jin Koh: Mountains of Echoing Halls for yangqin, String Quartet and Dance (World Premiere, NMAA Commission)
Béla Bartók: String Quartet No. 3 in C-sharp Major
Texu Kim: Ritus Sanitatem (World Premiere, NMAA Commission)
About the Quartet
With members from Singapore, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the Verona Quartet is in residence at the Oberlin Conservatory and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Wigmore Hall, and Melbourne Recital Centre, in addition to appearances at La Jolla SummerFest, Chamber Music Northwest, and Bravo! Vail.
They have garnered acclaim for their “bold interpretive strength, robust characterization, and commanding resonance” (Calgary Herald) and have been praised for the “intimate way they communicate with each other and the audience” (The Arts Fuse, Boston). Their interpretive approach emanates from a spirit of storytelling, founded on a conviction that its essence transcends genre, and thus the name “Verona” pays tribute to William Shakespeare.
Image: Kaopo Kikkas