PREMIERES (MI) – Adam Silverman, Flannery Cunningham, Renee Baker, Roberto Sierra, Alfredo Cabrera

PRISM Quartet presents a program of new music from an extraordinary collection of composers, including world premieres of works by Adam Silverman and Flannery Cunningham, regional premieres from Renee Baker and Roberto Sierra, and a recent work from Michigan composer Alfredo Cabrera.



Pratigraha by Renee Baker
Oci oci by Flannery Cunningham (world premiere)
Rogue Flare, Fly Away by Alfredo Cabrera
Graffiti II by Roberto Sierra (Michigan premiere)
TITLE by Adam Silverman (world premiere)

Composer Renee Baker is the founding music director and conductor of the acclaimed Chicago Modern Orchestra Project (CMOP), a polystylistic orchestral organization that grew from the plums of both classical music and jazz. She contributes a new adaptation of her work, Pratigraha, to the program and writes, “As a classical as well as avant garde composer, it is helpful to use and accept the gift of the skill set of each musician. As a practicing Sannyasi, this work is crafted for the bravest of artist and for the composer that is open to wide interpretations. Think of this piece as an alms bowl, open to the courageous donations of each interpreter and accepted without proud discriminations. The notated piece is a structured alms bowl.”

Flannery Cunningham holds PhDs in composition and musicology from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed Oci oci in 2022 and notes that the work “is titled after the syllables used for the nightingale’s call in medieval French chansons and prose, which come from the French verb ‘ocir,’ or to kill. 13th- and 14th-century French artists had a fascinating conception of birdsong’s ambiguous status as music, and there is a particularly rich tradition of nightingale ‘calls’ and textual references in troubadour and trouvère song. Sometimes the nightingale’s ‘oci, oci’ is a call for death stemming from the pains of overwhelming love; other times that love is a religious rather than romantic one, and the cry is one of anguish for Christ’s suffering. In either case, the nightingale is often used as an example of a bird who sings particularly sweetly (and is thus able to aestheticize her yearning and torment). I wrote the core material of Oci oci soon after my daughter was born, in just the sort of heightened state of love and pain of the piece’s namesake. I also spent hours listening to the same ‘most beautiful birds of the world’ playlist with her, which helped calm her when not much else could. One of these birdsongs is woven into the texture of Oci oci.”

Ms. Cunningham composed Oci oci as winner of PRISM Quartet’s Robert Capanna Commissioning Award, honoring the life and legacy of Bob Capanna (1952–2018), a dear friend of PRISM, visionary arts leader, and gifted composer. His career included leadership positions with Settlement Music School, The Presser Foundation, and Musical Fund Society, and he served for many years as chair of the PRISM Quartet’s board of directors.

Rogue Flare, Fly Away was composed in 2022 for the Eros Quartet by Alfredo Cabrera, a doctoral candidate in composition at the University of Michigan. He writes, “Most of my music seeks to bridge the different parts of my identity: Venezuelan, queer, immigrant, among many other things. In the past, I have had to mask some of these to make it in the world, with, at times, negative consequences for my mental health. We all have parts of ourselves that we choose to keep private. Certain feelings, thoughts, and even aspects of our identity that, out of shame or a sense of self-preservation, we keep away from prying eyes. And yet, sometimes, those secret parts of our souls decide to go Rogue and burn everything and everyone in their path. We ought to allow these outbursts to Fly Away, learn from them, and keep moving forward. Beyond the programmatic elements of the work, the piece relies heavily on particular rhythmic structures and melodic fragments from various Venezuelan folk music styles, but mainly from Joropo, Venezuela’s national dance and music.”

Grammy-nominated and Latin Grammy winner Roberto Sierra composed Graffiti II as a set of 14 miniatures. He writes, “My work is evocative of graffiti, with the juxtaposition of highly contrasting gestures, rapidly shifting colors and dynamics, and swooping gestures. Graffiti II portrays graffiti’s immediacy and lyricism in some movements, but also its radical, aggressive, uncontained quality in others, a sense that the music, like the artwork, is spilling out of the frame. Even when multiple graffiti artists utilize the same surface, the best graffiti conveys a sense of freedom, but is cohesive, with its own internal logic. The saxophone quartet is the perfect medium for my musical explorations of graffiti, since it seamlessly incorporates coloristic extended techniques, like multiphonics and the use of microtones, into its performance practice.”

Professor of Music Theory and Composition at West Chester University Adam Silverman describes his new saxophone quartet: “Organized in six movements, the music of Title consistently draws upon the stamina of its performers in a variety of ways, ranging from the first movement’s continuous melodic thread (demanding circular breathing from each of the performers), jagged rhythms and harmonic shifts of the second and third movements, unpredictable pulsations of the fourth movement, the long-phrased melancholy of the fifth movement, and an extremely intricate instrumental interplay in the last. Overall, the music comes across as bold and rambling, meant to explore the most tender and most muscular aspects of the ensemble. Wholly without program, the composition was given as generic a title as possible while paying tribute to a puzzle craze popular during the music’s composition: Wordle. Nodding to that game, all of the movement titles were selected from existing puzzle answers, each chosen to most closely reflect the character of the music of that movement. The number following each word simply denotes which day of Wordle used that answer.”

COVID-19 PROTOCOLS: Vaccinations and Masks
This concert is open only to fully vaccinated and masked individuals. Anyone wishing to enter the building must show a proof of vaccination – such as a Covid-19 vaccination card or an Excelsior Pass – to staff at the door. Musicians and staff members have been vaccinated.


This program is presented with generous support from the Michigan Arts and Culture Council, the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, and Merdian Winds.


PRISM Quartet welcomes all individuals to our concerts, and provides a variety of accommodations for those with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. For specific accommodations, please contact or 215.438.5282.

PRISM selects only wheelchair accessible performance venues with dedicated seating locations for wheelchairs. Ramps and an elevator (access on Emmett St.) are permanent at The First Presbyterian Church. For any guest who requires a paid Personal Care Attendant (PCA), PRISM will provide a PCA Pass at no cost with a paid admission. Any guests with disabilities who require a PCA and wish to purchase advance tickets should contact PRISM at 215.438.5282 of to request a PCA Pass with the ticket.

Meridian Winds

First Presbyterian Church of Ypsilanti
300 N. Washington St., Ypsilanti, MI

March 12, 2023
7 PM

$25 general admissions, $20 seniors/students with ID (all fees included). Free Tickets, courtesy or Meridian Winds, are gone. BUT, use the discount code for advance online purchases: PRISM5 for $5 off each ticket! Tickets available at door only on day of concert.