PRISM Quartet

Wall to Wall World Premieres: Curtis Institute of Music

The PRISM Quartet, in partnership with the Curtis Institute of Music, presents an electrifying program of world premieres of new saxophone quartets by 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winner and Bang on a Can composer Julia Wolfe; Grammy Award-winner Michael Daugherty; the Curtis Institute’s David Hertzberg; Princeton University’s Emma O’Halloran, Viet Cuong and Jonathan Russell; counter)induction’s Kyle Bartlett; Solon Snider and Mark Macaluso, winners of the PRISM/Walden School Commissioning Award; and PRISM’s own Matthew Levy. The concert will be held in the Curtis Institute’s Gould Rehearsal Hall in Lenfest Hall on 1616 Locust Street in Center City, Philadelphia.

Julia Wolfe

Julia Wolfe

Michael Daugherty

Michael Daugherty

Kyle Bartlett

Kyle Bartlett

Viet Cuong

Viet Cuong


David Hertzberg

Emma O'Halloran

Emma O’Halloran

Jonathan Russell

Jonathan Russell

Matthew Levy

Matthew Levy

Intriguing programs of great beauty and breadth have distinguished the PRISM Quartet as one of America’s foremost chamber ensembles. Two-time winners of the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, PRISM has been presented by Carnegie Hall, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and as soloists with the Detroit Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra. Champions of new music, PRISM has commissioned over 200 works, many by internationally celebrated Pulitzer Prize-winning composers. PRISM’s discography includes eleven recordings for the Albany, Innova, Koch, Naxos, New Dynamic, and New Focus labels. PRISM may also be heard on the soundtrack of the film Two Plus One and has been featured in the theme music to the weekly PBS news magazine “NOW.” PRISM performs exclusively on Selmer saxophones and mouthpieces.

Cha by Julia Wolfe (b. 1958)
“Cha” was written in memory of the composer’s father. Julia Wolfe writes: “My father loved to dance. Cha is a play on Latin dance tune fragments, bass lines and vocal trills made messy with cross rhythms and bursts of song.”

Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in music for “Anthracite Fields,” a monumental oratorio for chorus and instruments, Julia Wolfe draws inspiration from folk, classical, and rock genres, bringing a modern sensibility to each while simultaneously tearing down the walls between them. She is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York’s legendary music collective Bang on a Can, and serves on the composition faculty of the NYU Steinhardt School.

Steamboat by Michael Daugherty (b. 1954)
“Steamboat” draws from the final movement of Daugherty’s Reflections on the Mississippi (2013), a concerto for tuba and orchestra. According to the composer, it “conjures up colorful tales from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain (1835-1910). Traveling down the Mississippi River, I have composed lively music that follows the gambling steamboats from Twain’s hometown in Hannibal, Missouri, to the final stop in New Orleans.”

Grammy Award-winning composer and Guggenheim Fellow Michael Daugherty serves as professor of Composition at the University of Michigan. He has been commissioned by Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony.

Lethal Sigh by Kyle Bartlett (b. 1971)
“I love PRISM, so one afternoon I wrote this 34-measure ‘amuse bouche’ for them. I never dreamt they would actually put it on a show. Lethal Sigh is gestural and intuitive, and plays off the huge range of timbres and textures the saxophone quartet can produce.”

Kyle Bartlett is a composer living in Philadelphia. She is a an Independence Foundation Fellow and founding member of the acclaimed New York contemporary music ensemble, counter)induction.

murmurations by David Hertzberg (b.1990)
“Although my ‘murmurations’ was conceived in a very abstract way, certain images and ideas suggested themselves to me throughout the course of its composition. The following lines are an ekphrastic response to my own work, written after its completion: you, glyph, descending forth, are not of one, you are a quiet violence, each separation of yourself, the parts, tearing themselves away from what is without, act causelessly and outside of purpose, gorge on what is not, make of your barren self, contrive with ever greater carelessness your wanton whole; the whispering angels herald your tide.”

Hailed as “opulently gifted” (Opera News) and “utterly original” (The New York Times), the music of David Hertzberg is swiftly garnering recognition, with recent seasons seeing performances on the stages of Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall. Recent distinctions have come from Gotham Chamber Opera, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Copland House, the Tanglewood Music Center, BMI, ASCAP, and the American Composers Forum.

Beneath/Above by Matthew Levy (b. 1963)
“‘Beneath’ is a collage of gentle multiphonics (each saxophone performing several notes at once) that form an abstract mirror-image of the work that follows, ‘Above.’ While ‘Above’ is lyrical, outward, and celebratory, ‘Beneath’ is muted, inward, and dissonant. Above borrows material from my choral work ‘On Christmas Day,’ originally commissioned by Voices for Children for a recording benefiting the Philadelphia Pediatric AIDS Foundation.”

The recipient of composition fellowships from the Independence Foundation and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Matthew Levy co-founded, and is the executive and co-artistic director of the PRISM Quartet, whose recording of his music, People’s Emergency Center, was hailed as “magic with swirling precision” by WRTI and named as “Best Jazz of 2014” by PopMatters.

Night Music by Emma O’Halloran (b. 1985)
“…burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night…” – from Howl by Allen Ginsberg.

Emma O’Halloran is an Irish composer who writes music for acoustic and electronic instruments. In addition to concert music, she composes for theater, and is one half of the electronic duo Games Violet. Emma lives in New Jersey, and is currently a doctoral fellow at Princeton University.

Three Triffles by Jonathan Russell (b. 1979)
“A mere ‘trifle’ is a small thing of little consequence; a ‘truffle’ is small, but very rich. My ‘Three Triffles,’ then, are short, frivolous little movements, that are nonetheless musically dense and rich.”

Jonathan Russell is a composer and bass clarinetist/clarinetist whose wide-ranging compositions build on influences from all over the musical map, unified by their directness of expression, emotional power, and visceral musicality.

Prized Possessions by Viet Cuong (b. 1990)
“With its two contrasting movements, ‘Prized Possessions’ attempts to address the human phenomenon of taking things for granted by sending musical material through various repetitions and expressive treatments. The piece focuses on balancing fleeting, quickly vanishing ideas with other material that’s allowed to obsessively linger until almost no longer welcome.”

Viet Cuong is a Naumburg and Roger Sessions Fellow at Princeton University, where he received his MFA and is currently a PhD Candidate. He was a winner of the ASCAP Morton Gould Composers Award, Suzanne and Lee Ettelson Composers Award, Walter Beeler Memorial Prize from Ithaca College, Dolce Suono Ensemble Young Composers Competition, Boston GuitarFest Composition Competition, the Prix d’Été Composition Competition, and the Trio La Milpa Composition Competition.

Memories in the Wind by Mark Macaluso (b. 1994)
“We are all constantly changing as individuals and it is our memories of past experiences that bridge the gap between our past and future selves. Memories are a cohesive unit amidst the tapestries of change in the world. I titled my composition ‘Memories in the Wind’ because it evokes a sense of looking into the past of who you were in anticipation of who you will become.”

Mark Macaluso attended the Walden School Young Musicians Program for 3 summers and thanks the PRISM Quartet and the faculty and staff of Walden for awarding him the commission for this composition in 2013. He wrote the piece in the fall of 2014 at Wake Forest University where he was a Presidential Scholar in Music Composition and had the honor of studying with Dr. Dan Locklair, Composer-in-Residence and Professor of Music.

Four Tableaus by Solon Snider (b. 1994)
“‘Four Riverboat Tableaus’ is loosely inspired by the Dixieland sounds of The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, specifically their rendition of Paul Barbarin’s ‘Bourbon Street Parade.’ The first two ‘tableaus’ draw upon dovetailing and contrapuntal techniques from this classic tune while the final two explore more homophonic settings to draw attention to the expressive capabilities of the individual saxophones, culminating in a parade-like cacophony of celebration.”

Solon Snider, 2012 winner of the PRISM/Walden School Commissioning Award, is a music major at Yale University. He is thrilled to present “Four Riverboat Tableaus” for PRISM. Special thanks to Seth Brenzel, Sam Pluta, Judah Adashi, Evan Ziporyn, and Ian Gottlieb for all their help and support through this process!


All tickets will be held at will-call. Please print and present your Paypal receipt to the ticket sales table (just outside of Gould Hall) in order to obtain your tickets, beginning 90 minutes before the concert. All tickets are general admission with no assigned seating.

This program is presented with support from Chamber Music America, The Presser Foundation, and Conn-Selmer, Inc. PRISM Quartet, Inc. also receives support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia, the William Penn Foundation, the Samuel S. Fels Fund, the Amphion Foundation, New Music USA’s Cary New Music Performance Fund, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc., and individual donors.Julia Wolfe’s commission has been made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund. David Hertzberg’s commission has been made possible by the J-Fund of the American Composers Forum, and is supported by the Jerome Foundation.

Gould Rehearsal Hall in Lenfest Hall
1616 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

May 22, 2015

22 general admission/ $17 students with ID (prices include service charges) This event is for all ages.

Box office contact info:
Tickets are available in advance via PayPal (scroll to bottom of this page for PayPal) , or may be purchased at the door (cash only). Please print and present your Paypal receipt or ID to the box office in order be admitted. All tickets are general admission with no assigned seating.