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Chamber Music at UB

The JACK Quartet, a cutting-edge contemporary music group, shares the spotlight with UB faculty musicians

On Thursday, February 24 at 7:30pm, the JACK Quartet returns to UB, on the stage of the Baird Recital Hall on the Amherst campus. Focused on the commissioning and performance of new works, the young members of the JACK Quartet—violinists Christopher Otto and Ari Streisfeld, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Kevin McFarland—have already worked closely with leading contemporary composers including Helmut Lachenmann, György Kurtág, Matthias Pintscher, Toshio Hosokawa, Wolfgang Rihm, Elliott Sharp, Beat Furrer, Caleb Burhans, and Aaron Cassidy.

Before his Buffalo debut performance conducting the Slee Sinfonietta last October, the internationally touring German conductor and composer Matthias Pintscher had been widely hailed as the most exciting young German conductor now performing. Pintscher, now based in New York City, more than lived up to his advance publicity, not only in conducting his own inventive treatment of a Hebrew text in his work, songs from Solomon’s garden, featuring bass-baritone Evan Hughes, but also in his performance of that quintessentially American work, Copland’s Appalachian Spring.

The JACK Quartet gave the US premiere of Pintscher’s Study IV for Treatise on a Veil in Philadelphia last year, and the composer will be in the audience for the Buffalo premiere. The Washington Post noted that the work “must be about the quietest music composed for string quartet. Equally fascinating and bewildering, Pintscher’s drastically muted (‘veiled’) techniques made the music sound like it was being played inside a glass jar. Wisps of barely audible tones fluttered by like puffs of air.”

The Buffalo audience for serious modern music has had a remarkable opportunity in the past two months to hear a wide cross-section of the music of György Ligeti, the most important Hungarian composer of the post WWII era. Touring pianist Jeremy Denk offered a memorable transversal of the first two books of Ligeti’s Études for piano at UB in January; a couple weeks later, UB faculty pianist Eric Huebner finished off the composer’s cycle of the most influential études written for piano since those of Debussy, with his thoughtful performance of the third and final book. Even the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra got into the act last weekend when JoAnn Falletta conducted the orchestra’s premiere of Ligeti’s very early Concert Romanesc, the first appearance of a work by the composer in a subscription series concert in 36 years. The Buffalo Chamber Music Society started the Ligeti ball rolling last December, when the young Parker Quartet, winners of the 2011 Grammy Award for their recording of Ligeti’s complete works for string quartet on the Naxos label, offered a winningly convincing performance of the composer’s String Quartet No. 1 (“Métamorphoses Nocturnes”). The JACK will complete Ligeti’s quartet cycle when they perform his thornier but still accessible 1968 String Quartet No. 2, a work that, while influenced by Ligeti’s illustrious Hungarian predecessor Béla Bartók, still manages to find its own unique voice.

The only work for string quartet by the late doyen of the American avant-garde, John Cage, is also on the program. Cage’s String Quartet in Four Parts is a surprisingly listenable work, characterized by “a general quietness and flatness of sound in the quartet that may be an expression of tranquility.” The JACK will also perform the String Quartet No. 2 by the young American composer Aaron Cassidy, currently based in the UK.

In addition to their evening concert, the JACK Quartet will present a composer workshop session with Matthias Pintscher on Friday, February 25 at 2pm in Baird Recital Hall. This is free and open for public observation.

Advance tickets are $12 general admission, $9 for UB faculty/staff/alumni and senior citizens, and $5 for students. At the door: $20, $15, and $8. For more information, call 645-2921 or visit

Beethoven Welcomes UB Alumni

At 7:30pm on Tuesday, March 1, UB faculty members Jonathan Golove, cello, Eric Huebner, piano, and Jean Kopperud, clarinet, perform a concert of Beethoven rarities on the stage of the Lippes Concert Hall, in Slee Hall on the Amherst campus. The works for cello and piano to be performed include the Sonata No. 5 in D Major, Op. 10, No. 2 and the Twelve Variations on “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Op. 66, as well as selected Beethoven fugues, as arranged by Golove and Huebner. Kopperud will be featured in the Trio in B Flat Major, Op. 11 in its original scoring for clarinet, cello, and piano.

Preceding the concert is a private reception presented by the UB Alumni Association with an open bar, light hors d’oeuvres, and welcoming remarks by Golove at 6pm in the lobby of Slee Hall. Tickets for the pre-concert reception and concert are $11 or $20 for a pair for dues-paying members of the alumni association, $13 or $25 per pair for non-members. Tickets are available from the UB Alumni Association:

Concert tickets only are $10 general admission, $5 for faculty/staff/alumni, senior citizens or non-UB students. The concert is free to UB students with valid ID.

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