On Sunday, December 4, Friction Quartet pairs up with four San Francisco vocalists (Amy Foote, soprano; Molly Mahoney, mezzo; Michael Desnoyers, tenor; Sidney Chen, bass) to premiere new works written for this unique octet by Bay Area composers Nick Benavides, Danny Clay, Noah Luna, and Mark Winges. Each of these new works draws inspiration from an artist that died young: the great Hank Williams, charismatic cellist Jacqueline du Pré, bebop legend Charlie Parker, and the American poet Joe Bolton. This concert will take place at The Women’s Building in San Francisco at 7:30 PM.
Nick Benavides’ "Trying to play clean" is a dizzying and challenging new work inspired by Charlie Parker. The piece begins with a whirlwind of bebop excerpts and expands until each line begins to bleed into a slowly changing blanket of sound. It is an end of life imagining of Parker as he lay on his death bed, reflecting on his life and dreaming of the music he wanted to explore if he had more time. Danny Clay describes his new composition "no more darkness, no more night" as a “musical séance for Hank Williams” in which the performers gather around a record player for the ritual calling of the spirits. Noah Luna has developed his libretto from the poetry of Joe Bolton, an American poet who committed suicide shortly after submitting his Master’s thesis. In "On this coast without a sea", the vocalists take turns portraying Joe Bolton, expressing his lost love, disenchantment with life, and his legacy that lives on through his works. The final work on this program, "The Moon Dreams of Jacqueline", comes from composer Mark Winges. It honors the exquisite playing of cellist Jacqueline du Pré, whose career and life were shortened by multiple sclerosis, and imagines that her iconic version of the Elgar Cello Concerto still echoes in the moon’s dreams.