Composer Josh Henderson on Writing for a String Quartet

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Henderson’s work will obtain its New York debut with the Cavani String Quartet at Kaufman Music Heart’s Merkin Corridor


On November 5, 2022, the Kaufman Music Heart and the John J. Cali College of Music will co-present a live performance by the Cavani String Quartet. As a part of the Bridges live performance collection, the Cavani String Quartet might be performing a program that features Shostakovich, Henderson, Washington, and Mendelssohn. Tickets will be discovered right here.

The Josh Henderson work, entitled A Bop for Bridge, will obtain its New York debut with college students from Kaufman Music Heart’s Particular Music College & the John J. Cali College performing alongside the Cavani String Quartet.


The Violin Channel had the possibility to talk with Henderson and the Cavani String Quartet about working collectively, their inspiration, and their processes!


Violin Channel: What was your concept or inspiration behind the work? 

Josh Henderson: As of late with my composing, I’m very a lot within the musical exploration of lesser-known tales, locations, and other people of the world. So when approached to create a piece for the fantastic Cavani Quartet as a part of their Past Beethoven undertaking, I used to be excited to delve into one of many lesser-known, however terribly fascinating tales surrounding Beethoven and his chamber works. This is able to be the story of George Bridgetower, the British violin virtuoso of African descent, who holds the esteemed place of being the unique dedicatee of Beethoven’s well-known Kreutzer Sonata. Nonetheless, after a profitable premiere of the work, the performer and composer discovered themselves in an altercation, and the dedication was renounced and subsequently given to a different virtuoso of the day, Rudolphe Kreutzer. Sadly, Mr. Kreutzer declared the Sonata too tough to be performed (regardless of the current profitable premiere by Mr. Bridgetower), and by no means truly carried out the work. And sadly, after a number of extra years of fame, Mr. Bridgetower spent the remainder of his life in obscurity, and died penniless in Peckham.


VC: How did this premiere alternative come to you?

JH: Like many issues, I occurred to be in the correct place on the proper time.

Final season, The Cavani quartet was within the midst of a really thrilling Beethoven undertaking –primarily, a Beethoven cycle that not solely featured performances of the entire quartets but additionally included new commissions on every live performance and closely concerned native Cleveland communities as a part of the undertaking via their many schooling initiatives. That they had many superior composers lined up for every live performance within the collection, however as a consequence of an unlucky household circumstance, the composer affiliated with the ultimate live performance needed to take away themselves from the undertaking considerably late within the sport. At this level, the cellist of Cavani and good pal Kyle Value, himself an exquisite composer/arranger (amongst many different issues), approached me to leap on the undertaking, as we have now had many collaborations involving creating works underneath time constraints previously. And naturally, I used to be very happy to jot down one thing for this unimaginable group!


VC: What was your private/compositional technique of taking the idea out of your thoughts via to the premiere?

JH: This piece shouldn’t be solely impressed by the story talked about beforehand, but additionally attracts in depth inspiration from the motivic and harmonic languages of Beethoven (with a little bit of a contemporary aptitude), and in honor of Mr. Bridgetower, can also be meant to be a car of virtuosity for the solo string quartet.


VC: What do you hope listeners will take away with them?

JH: I am at all times hoping that an viewers will go away a efficiency with themselves ever so barely stretched in new instructions – personally, musically, creatively, doesn’t matter, just a few sort of progress. If they’ll be taught slightly little bit of historical past, join with the music and message, and apply that to their very own lives in a optimistic means, then that’s implausible.


Comprised of violinists Annie Fullard and Catherine Cosbey, violist Eric Wong, and Kyle Value, the Cavani String Quartet is the recipient of The Naumburg Award, Ohio Governors Award for the Arts, Musical America Journal’s Younger Artists of the 12 months, The Cleveland Quartet Award, ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, and The Guarneri Quartet Award Inventive Excellence.


VC: How vital is it to your group to carry out new music? 

CSQ: Studying and performing new music gives us a renewed sense of surprise and discovery. We consider the collaborative course of with dwelling composers is the life drive of each ensemble, and the Cavani Quartet works actively to domesticate these fantastic relationships. We strategy the work of dwelling composers with the identical reverence because the works of celebrated musicians from the previous. On the identical time, working with dwelling composers gives deeper perception into the method of deciphering and learning composers from the previous. To cite certainly one of our favourite composers, Gabriela Lena Frank, “It’s past vital for chamber music teams to play new music and work with dwelling composers – it’s your accountability as artists.”


VC: Did you get to collaborate with the composer on this premiere?

CSQ: Our collaboration with Josh Henderson was inspiring and inventive. We really feel grateful to have had the chance to fee a piece that’s so multifaceted, dynamic, and refreshing. Josh even carried out with us within the premiere!


VC: How does the group go about programming a live performance corresponding to this one?

CSQ: In 2021, the Cavani Quartet inaugurated Past Beethoven, an eight-part live performance collection that includes the whole quartets of Beethoven intertwined with works by some at the moment’s most revered and modern dwelling composers. Past Beethoven additionally included a group engagement extravaganza involving greater than 100 excessive school-age string gamers from the Cleveland area. Our purpose is to rejoice these younger artists via a side-by-side efficiency on the stage of the famend Severance Corridor. We selected a difficult and joyful motion from a Beethoven quartet and commissioned the extraordinary Josh Henderson to jot down a piece that would embrace all of our college students on stage performing along with the Cavani Quartet. Josh created a bit which tied the Beethoven and Bridgetower story collectively and supplied the scholars an opportunity to premiere an thrilling and exquisite new work. We’re so thrilled to carry out the work as soon as once more at Kaufman Music Heart this week, and as soon as once more with the good Josh Henderson.


VC: When you needed to give a bit of recommendation to a younger, aspiring quartet, what would it not be?

CSQ: We encourage our college students to look to the longer term in addition to the previous when choosing repertoire. There’s a huge array of good and compelling up to date chamber music and composers who’re excited to create new works. As a group of musicians, we should empower younger ensembles to develop their joyful aspect, and encourage passionate communication, essential considering, efficient reasoning, and inventive motion. We consider taking part in chamber music is a catalyst for deepening the expressive energy of music and connection, and in constructing the crew. Dwelling in a chamber music world illuminates the significance of connecting with one another and strengthens our humanity.


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