Music From Japan

Commissioned Composers

Akiko Ushijima

Akiko Ushijima

Though trained as a composer, Akiko Ushijima’s artistic interest is in expanding the boundaries of music: her recent works are experiments in integrating visual and performative elements with music. After obtaining her first master’s degree from the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music, she has completed the master’s program in composition at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. She has studied composition under Peter Adriaansz, Yannis Kyriakides, Gilius van Bergeijk and Guus Janssen. After working as a part-time lecturer at Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music, she is currently a part-time lecturer at Nagoya University of Arts and Music. She is member of JSSA: Japanese Society for Sonic Arts.

Yasutaki Inamori (photo by Heinz Wernecke)

Yasutaki Inamori

Yasutaki Inamori was born in 1978 in Tokyo. He studied composition at Tokyo Gakugei University with Prof. Masahiro Yamauchi and later at Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln with Prof. Johannes Schöllhorn and Prof. Michael Beil. In 2011 he finished his Concert-Exam (instrumental composition), and he holds the Master’s degree for electronic composition (2013). Since 2014 he has been teaching at Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln (orchestration and instrumental study).   Inamori’s music has been performed in many countries, including Germany, Switzerland, United States of America, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Mexiko, Finland and Japan. He has worked with such musicians and ensembles as WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Gürzenich Orchestra Köln, SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart, NRW Youth Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic, New Japan Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonie Orchestra, l’instant donné, Ensemble Garage, Ensemble Handwerk, Mario Caroli, Camilla Hoitenga, Carin Levine, Barbara Maurer, Boris Radulovic, Dirk Rothbrust and Rie Watanabe.   Inamori has been awarded such accolades as 1st prize at the 76th Music Competition of Japan 2007 and the Kompolize Composition Competition in 2017, the Bernd Alois Zimmermann Scholarship 2011 from the city of Cologne, and the Akutagawa Yasushi Suntory Composition Award 2019. He was also a recipient of Rohm Music Foundation Scholarship (2009-2012), Nomura Foundation Scholarship (2012) and Artist Residency Schreyahn (2017, together with percussionist Rie Watanabe).

Hirofumi Mogi

Hirofumi Mogi

Born in Chiba Prefecture, Japan in 1988, Hirofumi Mogi finished master course of Tokyo College of Music with the major in composition in 2014. He had studied composition under Shin-ichiro Ikebe, Tomiko Kohjiba, Junmei Suzuki, Akira Nishimura, Keiko Harada, Yutaka Fujiwara and Masaki Murata. He had studied conducting under Yasuhiko Shiozawa, Yasufumi Tokito, Yoshihisa Noguchi. Now he works for composition Department at Tokyo College of Music as a composition member staff. He had received a composition prize for his Violin Concerto “Memories of wave”. The prize was organized by Yamagata Symphony Orchestra, and 3rd prize and Hatanaka prize of Sogakudo Japanese Song composition competition in 2015. He became the finalists of the international Composition contest Valentino Bucchi Prize in 2015. His piece “Specimens of time” for solo timpanist and 4 percussionists is published with Tokyo Hustle Copy.

Ikenouchi: His Music & His Legacy

Tomojiro Ikenouchi

Tomojiro Ikenouchi (1906-1991)

Tomojiro Ikenouchi was born in Tokyo as the second son of the celebrated haiku poet TAKAHAMA Kyoshi. He traveled to Paris in 1927, where he studied composition with Henri Büsser and piano with Lazare Lévy at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique. During this period, his compositions, heavily influenced by French Impressionist music, were presented publicly for the first time at the Hibiya Public Hall in Tokyo. He returned to Japan in 1937, bringing with him the French compositional method he had learned, at a time when the German method was more prevalent. Ikenouchi held an exclusive recording contract with the Nippon Columbia Co. Ltd., and a music professorship at the Nippon Universtiy, before moving on to teach at the Tokyo University of the Arts from 1947-1974. His notable students include Isang Yun, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Toshiro Mayuzumi, Maki Ishii, Shin-ichiro Ikebe, Makoto Shinohara, Akira Miyoshi, Akio Yashiro, Roh Ogura, Kōhei Tanaka, Teizo Matsumura, Masato Uchida, Ryohei Hirose, and Akira Nishimura. Along with several of his students, he formed the Shinshin Kai group in 1955. His compositions are published by Ongaku-no-Tomo Sha. He has several books of haiku to his credit as well. His granddaughter is cellist, Kristina Reiko Cooper.

Toshiro Mayuzumi

Toshiro Mayuzumi (1929-1997)

Born in Yokohama, Toshiro Mayuzumi studied at the Tokyo University of The Arts with Kunihiko Hashimoto from 1945-1951 and spent the following year at the Paris Conservatory studying under Tony Aubin. Once known primarily for his avant-garde pieces, he clearly expressed an inclination to return to compositions centering on themes of Japanese traditions and Buddhism when he wrote Nirvana Symphony in 1959. That work, awarded the Otaka Prize, was performed in Music From Japan’s 1979 first Carnegie Hall concert. Bugaku, commissioned by the New York City Ballet, garnered him another Otaka Prize in 1962. In 1976, he composed Kinkakuji, an opera commissioned by the Deutsche Oper Berlin and its English version was premiered by The New York City Opera during the 1995 fall season as part of Music From Japan’s 20th Anniversary Celebration. He has written music for theatrical works by, among others, Kobo Abe and Yukio Mishima. Mayuzumi has become a familiar presence to many outside of the classical music field through Untitled Concert, an Asahi Network Television Program he hosted for over 20 years. He has enriched the medium of film through his scores for such eminent directors as John Huston, Keisuke Kinoshita, Shohei Imamura and Kon Ichikawa. Mayuzumi received Japan’s Mainichi Award for his score of Tokyo Olympics. In September 1988, he was appointed chairperson of the Japan Federation of Composers. He died in Kawasaki in 1997.

Michio Mamiya

Michio Mamiya (b. 1929)

Born in Hokkaido, Michio Mamiya is one of Japan’s best known and most performed composers. He studied music initially with his father, later studying composition with Prof. Tomojiro Ikenouchi and piano with Prof. Hiroshi Tamura at the Tokyo Academy of Music (now the Tokyo University of The Fine Arts), where he graduated in 1952. Mamiya’s interest in folk music, not only of his homeland but of many other countries, including Asian, African and Scandinavian, goes back to immediately after his graduation from the Academy, and manifests itself variously in many of his works. His thesis, “Rhythm of Japanese Folk-songs”, analyzes the relationship between Japan’s language and its musical folklore – the most important results of this study are a series of compositions for chorus and operas. His works comprise almost every form, ranging from choral works and operas, through orchestral works and concertos, chamber music and pieces for solo instruments, to music for traditional Japanese instruments. Mamiya has won many important awards, including the Mainichi Art Prize in 1960 for his Violin Concerto No.1, the Otaka Prizes twice; for Deux Tableaux pour Orchestre ’65 in 1965 and for Piano Concerto No.2 in 1970, and The Grand Prix of the Salzburg TV Opera Prize for his opera Narukami in 1974. Mamiya divides his time between composing, teaching composition at the Toho Gakuen School of Music and the artistic director of the Concert Hall Shizuoka.

Sadao Bekku

Sadao Bekku (1922-2012)

Born in Tokyo, Sadao Bekku graduated from the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science at the University of Tokyo in 1946, and the Department of Aesthetics, Faculty of Letters at the University of Tokyo in 1950. He went to Paris in 1951 and studied composition with Darius Milhaud and Olivier Messiaen at Conservatoire de Paris. After he returned to Japan in 1955, he began teaching at Toho Gakuen School of Music, and then at Chuo University in 1973. Bekku has won such prestigious awards the Otaka Prize and the National Arts Festival Prize.

Performers

Kristina Reiko Cooper

Kristina Reiko Cooper, cello

Cello virtuoso Kristina Reiko Cooper has won worldwide acclaim for her musical diversity, artistry, and charismatic stage presence. She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician on many of the world’s most distinguished stages including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Suntory Hall of Tokyo, Radio France in Paris, and appearances with the PragueChamber Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony and the Tokyo Yomiuri Symphony. Her many festival appearances include The Lincoln Center Summer Festival, Mostly Mozart, Musicians from Marlboro, Bang on a Can All-Stars, and the Stresa International Music Festival. Cooper has had many original works written and commissioned for her; among the composers that she has worked with are Phillip Glass, Mario Davidovsky, Josef Bardanashvili, Kenji Bunch and Lera Auerbach. As a chamber musician, Cooper received the Walter M. Naumburg Chamber Music Award first prize with her former string quartet, The Whitman Quartet. Her upcoming season includes solo performances in Carnegie Hall with the NY City Opera Orchestra, the Russian State Symphony Orchestra in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the Kaunus City Symphony Orchestra in Lithuania, the Concerto Budapest Orchestra and the Mexico City Philharmonic. As project creator and soloist for Sugihara Symphony written by Lera Auerbach, Kristina’s pursuit of the musical work is also the subject of a documentary currently in production with Mark Wahlberg’s company, Unrealistic Ideas. She has an extensive discography of CD and DVD recordings as both soloist and chamber musician. Cooper received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music and her doctorate of musical arts from The Juilliard School and is currently a visiting professor at Tel Aviv University. Kristina plays on the 1743 Ex-Havemeyer G.B. Guadagnini cello.

John Novacek

John Novacek, piano

Pianist John Novacek regularly tours the Americas, Europe and Asia as solo recitalist, chamber musician and concerto soloist; in the latter capacity he has presented over thirty concerti with dozens of orchestras.

John Novacek’s major American performances have been heard in New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Washington’s The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Center and Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl, while international venues include Paris’ Theatre des Champs-Elysées, London’s Barbican Centre, as well as most of the major concert halls of Japan.

John Novacek is a much sought-after collaborative artist and has performed with Joshua Bell, Matt Haimovitz, Leila Josefowicz, Cho-Liang Lin, Yo-Yo Ma, Truls Mork, Elmar Oliveira and Emmanuel Pahud, among many others. He also tours widely as a member of Intersection, a piano trio that includes violinist Kaura Frautschi and cellist Kristina Reiko Cooper.

John Novacek’s original compositions have been widely performed and frequently recorded by major international soloists and ensembles. Commissioning entities include: New York Philharmonic, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Accordo/Schubert Club (film score), Fuji TV, Scotia Festival, McGill University, Ensemble Liaison, and Harrington String Quartet. He has also prepared special arrangements for The Three Tenors, Boosey & Hawkes, EMI, Atlantic Records, John Williams, Kiri Te Kanawa and pop diva Diana Ross.

John Novacek has recorded over 35 CDs, encompassing solo and chamber music by most major composers from Bach to Bartók, as well as many contemporary and original scores. Mr. Novacek records for such eminent labels as Philips, Nonesuch, Arabesque, Warner Classics, and Sony/BMG, among others. CD titles include Road Movies (2004 GRAMMY nomination as “Best Chamber Music Performance”), Novarags (original ragtime compositions), Recital (BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE: 5 stars/June 2005’s chamber choice, Intersection, and, with Leila Josefowicz, Americana (GRAMOPHONE: “Editor’s Choice”).

John Novacek is a Steinway Artist.

Zac Zinger

Zac Zinger, shakuhachi

Zac Zinger is an award-winning composer and multi-instrumentalist known for his innovative fusion of jazz with traditional Asian music and his compositions for major video game soundtracks such as Street Fighter VPubG Mobile, and Jump Force. Awards include four consecutive ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Awards (2012-2015); the Johnny Mandel Prize (2012); 1st place, USA Songwriting Competition: Jazz (2020); 1st place, Tribeca New Music Competition (2021); a Salon De Virtuosi Career Grant (2020); and a grant from the Asian Cultural Council (2016). A student of Kinko Ryu under Ralph Samuelson, Zac spent five months in Japan in 2017 studying alternative styles of traditional shakuhachi with Obama Akihito, Sogawa Kinya, and Zenyoji Keisuke. He performed and spoke at the 2018 World Shakuhachi Festival, and has also lectured at Berklee College of Music, CalArts, Texas A&M, St. John’s University, Five Towns College, and a variety of game music conferences.

 Also a saxophonist and multi-reeds player, he is credited for musical contributions to 47 commercial music releases and counting, and has performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Sony Hall with the likes of Tituss Burgess, Adam Neely, the 8-Bit Big Band, and Nobuo Uematsu.

Wonjung Kim

Wonjung Kim, soprano

Soprano Wonjung Kim has appeared at the Opera Garnier in Paris, Dresden Semper Opera, Opera de Monte Carlo and Los Angeles ‪Music Center Opera.  She performed throughout Europe with Claudio Scimone’s I Solisti Veneti, the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, ‪Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Venice’s San Marco Basilica, and at the Salzburg and Istanbul Music Festivals.  Named Best Classical Artist in the KBS Awards in Korea, she also won Best Actress in the Korea Musical Awards and an Ovation Award nomination for her starring performance as Queen Min in The Last Empress, produced in Seoul, New York and in Los Angeles.  A frequent performer in live television broadcasts, she has three solo CD’s to her name, the most recent of which, “Between the Notes,” was released to great acclaim. A champion of new music, she recently performed in the Music from Japan Festival in New York City, concerts in Seoul, South Korea, and at the Orlando Festival in The Netherlands. Ms. Kim received her BFA and MFA from California Institute of the Arts.  She was awarded an Advanced Certificate at Juilliard, where she was also accepted to the Juilliard Opera Center.  Ms. Kim completed her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Stony Brook University in 2013.

Taka Kigawa

(photo by Kenji Mori)

Taka Kigawa, piano

The critically acclaimed pianist Taka Kigawa has earned outstanding international recognition as a concerto soloist, recitalist and chamber music artist, performing extensively in New York City, Boston, Cleveland, Washington, DC, Barcelona, Milan, Paris and Buenos Aires, in Ireland, as well as throughout his native Japan, including the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagano and Osaka. He has also been a featured artist on television and radio networks in the United States, Europe and Asia.

Taka Kigawa was awarded First Prize from the prestigious 1990 Japan Music Foundation Piano Competition in Tokyo and the Diploma Prize from Spain’s 1998 Concurs Internacional de Música Maria Canals Barcelona. His 2010 New York City recital was chosen by The New York Times as one of the best concerts of the year, while a subsequent 2011 recital was selected as one of the most notable concerts of the 2011-2012 season by Musical America. His 2014 recital in Buenos Aires was named one of the best concerts of the year by Argentina’s leading newspaper, La Nación.

Possessing an extremely large and varied repertoire, ranging from the Baroque to the avant-garde, Taka Kigawa has collaborated closely with Pierre Boulez, Myung-Whun Chung and Jonathan Nott. He premiered the last solo piano work of jazz legend Yusef Lateef in New York City in 2013.

Taka Kigawa grew up in Nagano, Japan, where he began piano studies at the age of three, and won his first competition at the age of seven. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Shinsyu University and his Master of Arts degree from Tokyo Gakugei (Liberal Arts) University, graduating with honors in Piano Performance. During both his undergraduate and graduate years, Mr. Kigawa also studied composition and conducting, receiving high honors in both disciplines. He furthered his studies in the United States at The Juilliard School in New York City, where he was awarded a Master of Music degree.

Taka Kigawa is a Steinway Artist and resides in New York City.

Keisuke Ikuma

Keisuke Ikuma, oboe

Keisuke Ikuma is a highly sought-after oboe and english horn player in the New York metropolitan area. He is currently a member of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and the Stamford Symphony. He also performs regularly with the New York Philharmonic, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and numerous Broadway shows such as “The King and I,” “Wicked,” and “Phantom of the Opera”.  Mr. Ikuma received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where he was a full-scholarship student of Joseph Robinson, former principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic. He also holds Bachelor of Laws degree from Keio Gijuku University in Tokyo, Japan.

Ikuma studied conducting with Constantine Kitsopoulos and David Gilbert, and made his Broadway conducting debut in the 2015 Tony Award-winning production “The King and I” at Lincoln Center Theater. In June of 2017 he conducted the Broadway Chamber Players in an acclaimed performance of the chamber ensemble version of Mahler Symphony No. 4 with soprano Amy Justman. He also served as both oboe/english horn player and assistant conductor in the broadway revival of “My Fair Lady” at Lincoln Center Theater in March of 2018.

Marianne Gythfeldt

(photo by Matthew Dine)

Marianne Gythfeldt, clarinet

Marianne Gythfeldt has distinguished herself in chamber music and contemporary music performance on the international stage. She is equally at-home in traditional, contemporary and alternative genres as clarinetist of Zephyros Winds, Consortium Ardesia, Collide-O-scope, SEM Ensemble, and former member of the Naumburg award-winning group New Millennium Ensemble. Gythfeldt is especially recognized in the fields of electro acoustic music, contemporary chamber music and performance education. She was recently appointed Assistant Professor of clarinet and woodwind coordinator at Brooklyn College Conservatory where she will continue her work as a leader in arts engagement, outreach and development. Gythfeldt spent eight years as clarinet and chamber music professor at the University of Delaware where she won the Delaware Division of the Arts established artist award. Gythfeldt has recorded with CBS Masterworks, CRI, Albany, Koch and Mode Records.

Gina Cuffari

Gina Cuffari, bassoon

Bassoonist Gina Cuffari is a dynamic and versatile musician who performs a variety of roles in the New York City area as an orchestral musician, chamber musician, soloist, new music advocate, and educator. She is the co-principal bassoonist of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, where in addition to performing and recordings with the ensemble, she has been an active participant in its community engagement programs such as Access Orpheus (teaching at NYC public schools) and the Reflections program (performing for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers). As a chamber musician, she is a member of the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players, performs throughout New England with the Boston-based Walden Chamber Players, and has had recent engagements with the Exponential Ensemble, Tertulia Ensemble, and Camerata Pacifica in Santa Barbara, California. She has a keen interest in new music and has endeavored to support composers throughout her career. She has been a longtime collaborator with Alarm Will Sound, and has commissioned and premiered several new works with her ensembles Sylvan Winds, Quintet of the Americas, Trio Cabrini, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. In an ongoing personal project, she has commissioned and premiered works that combine her two passions—singing and playing the bassoon—into one performing experience. Composers writing for her include Sunny Knable, Gregg August, and Jenni Brandon. As an educator, Cuffari currently holds positions at New York University and Western Connecticut State University where she teaches bassoon, coaches chamber music, and teaches a variety of other classes.

Laura Cocks

Laura Cocks, flute

Laura Cocks is a New York based flutist who works in a wide array of creative environments as a performer of and advocate for creative musics. Cocks is the flutist and executive director of TAK ensemble, and a member of the Nouveau Classical Project and the Association of Dominican Classical Artists. They have performed across the Americas and Europe as a soloist and chamber musician in ensembles such as The London Sinfonietta, International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, Wet Ink Ensemble, and Ensemble Dal Niente. They can be heard with TAK, International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea, Wet Ink Ensemble, and many others on labels such as Carrier Records, ECM, Centaur Records, New Focus Recordings, Sound American, Denovali Records, Orange Mountain Music, Chambray Records, Amplify, TAK editions, Double Whammy Whammy, Winspear, Supertrain, Tripticks Tapes and Gold Bolus with upcoming albums on TAK editions, Sideband Records, and Carrier Records.

They have been in residence at institutions such as Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, the Delian Academy for New Music, Cornell University, Oberlin Conservatory, New York University, Columbia University, and many others. Cocks holds a doctorate from The Graduate Center and continues their writing and research in corporal analyses of art and musical praxis.

Oren Fader

Oren Fader, guitar

Classical and electric guitarist Oren Fader has performed in Asia, Europe, and throughout the United States. Recent concerto performances include the Villa-Lobos Guitar Concerto with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” with the New Jersey and the Omaha Symphonies. Fader has performed hundreds of concerts with a wide range of classical and new music groups, including the Met Chamber Ensemble, New York Philharmonic, Talea Ensemble, ICE, Mark Morris Dance Group, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He has premiered over 200 solo and chamber works with guitar, and can be heard on over 45 commercial recordings and film. Fader received his undergraduate degree from SUNY Purchase and his Master of Music degree from Florida State University. His major teachers include David Starobin and Bruce Holzman. Since 1994, Fader has been on the guitar and chamber music faculty of the Manhattan School of Music.

Sam Jones

Sam Jones, trumpet

Trained as a musician in idioms both traditional and unorthodox, American trumpeter Sam Jones has has worked with musicians ranging from Ibrahim Maalouf to Kanye West, Elliott Carter to La Monte Young, Simon Rattle to Susanna Mälkki, as well as leading groups around the world.

In demand as a soloist and ensemble player, Jones has performed at the Lincoln Center Festival, Lucerne and Helsinki Music Festivals, New York Philharmonic Biennial, the Darmstadt Courses, and many more. Winner of the 2019 World Trumpet Society International Competition, Jones’ 2021-2022 calendar sees him perform frequently with groups such as Talea Ensemble, Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Ensemble Échappé, Alarm Will Sound, Naples Philharmonic, Sarasota Orchestra, TILT Brass, and many more.

Sam Jones is a graduate of The Juilliard School. His primary teachers were Mark Gould and Håkan Hardenberger.

Samuel Budish

Samuel Budish, percussion

Samuel Budish is a New York City-based percussionist who actively performs in a wide variety of musical traditions. He regularly performs with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. He has also performed with Orpheus, the Sarasota Orchestra, and the New World Symphony. Samuel was a member of the onstage band for the Broadway productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III and has also performed on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  Dedicated to the music of today, Budish has premiered works by Hiroya Miura, Joseph Pereira, David Fulmer, and Tan Dun and is a founding member of Ensemble Échappé. He received his BM and MM from the Juilliard School.

David Byrd-Marrow

David Byrd-Marrow, horn

Atlanta native David Byrd-Marrow is the solo hornist of the International Contemporary Ensemble, as well as The Knights. Working with a uniquely wide range of performers, he has premiered works by Matthias Pintscher, Arthur Kampela, George Lewis, Tyshawn Sorey, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Du Yun, Marcos Balter, Wang Lu, Kate Soper, Miguel Zenón, and Chick Corea. He has performed at festivals including the Ojai Music Festival, the Spoleto Music Festival, the Mostly Mozart Festival, the Tanglewood Music Center, Summerfest at the La Jolla Music Society and as faculty at the Festival Napa Valley. Formerly a member of Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect, he has also made appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Decoda, the Atlanta and Tokyo symphony orchestras, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, the Washington National Opera and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He has recorded on many labels including Tundra, More Is More, Nonesuch, EMI, Deutsche Grammophon, and Naxos. Byrd-Marrow received his Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School and Master of Music from Stony Brook University.

David is the Assistant Professor of Horn at the Lamont School of Music, of The University of Denver.

Momenta

(photo by John Gurrin)

Momenta Quartet

Emilie-Anne Gendron – violin
Alex Shiozaki – violin
Stephanie Griffin – viola
Michael Haas – cello

Momenta: the plural of momentum – four individuals in motion towards a common goal. This is the idea behind the Momenta Quartet, whose eclectic vision encompasses contemporary music of all aesthetic backgrounds alongside great music from the recent and distant past. The New York City-based quartet has premiered over 150 works, collaborated with over 200 living composers and was praised by The New York Times for its “diligence, curiosity and excellence.” In the words of The New Yorker’s Alex Ross, “few American players assume Haydn’s idiom with such ease.”

The quartet came into being in November 2004, when composer Matthew Greenbaum invited violist Stephanie Griffin to perform Mario Davidovsky’s String Trio for events celebrating Judaism and Culture at New York’s Symphony Space and Temple University in Philadelphia. A residency through the composition department at Temple University ensued, and the rehearsals and performances were so satisfying that the players decided to form a quartet. Through this residency, Momenta gave two annual concerts highlighting the talents of Temple University student composers alongside 20th-century masterworks and works from the classical canon, and repeated the programs at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture. From the outset, Momenta treated all music equally, devoting as much time, care and commitment to the student works as to the imposing musical monuments.

Word of Momenta’s passionate advocacy for emerging composers spread quickly. Composers started inviting Momenta for similar concerts and residencies at other academic institutions, among them Harvard, Brown, Cornell and Columbia Universities; the Boston and Cincinnati Conservatories; and the Eastman School of Music. Momenta has received two Koussevitzky Foundation commission grants: for Malaysian composer Kee Yong Chong in 2009 and for Bolivian composer Agustín Fernández in 2011; a Barlow Foundation commission for Claude Baker in 2016; a Jerome Foundation grant to commission Eric Nathan in 2013, and a Chamber Music America commission for Alvin Singleton, whose new work will be featured prominently in our 2018-19 season. Deeply committed to the musical avant-garde of the developing world, Momenta has premiered and championed the works of Tony Prabowo (Indonesia), Cergio Prudencio (Bolivia) and Hana Ajiashvili (Georgia). Upcoming adventures include a project to perform and record all thirteen string quartets by Mexican microtonal maverick Julián Carrillo (1875-1965) over the next three years.

Momenta has appeared at such prestigious venues as the Library of Congress, National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery, Rubin Museum, Miller Theatre at Columbia University, the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Chamber Music Cincinnati, Louisville Chamber Music Society, Washington University in St. Louis, Ostrava Days in the Czech Republic, and at the internationally renowned Cervantino Festival in Mexico.

Momenta’s recent and upcoming highlights include residencies at the Institute Laredo in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and closer to home at Williams College and Bates College, where they join the music department as the 2019-20 Artists-In-Residence. Other engagements include collaborations with the Cornell University gamelan ensemble and student composers at Brown University; concerts presented by Bard College, Washington University in St. Louis, and the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.; and another installment of their annual member-curated Momenta Festival in NYC. Momenta also continues its collaboration with Mexican actor/director Fernando Villa Proal on “The Lost String Quartet,” a theatrical string quartet for children with an original score by Stephanie Griffin.

Momenta has recorded for Centaur Records, Furious Artisans, PARMA, New World Records, and Albany Records; and has been broadcast on WQXR, Q2 Music, Austria’s Oe1, and Vermont Public Radio. The quartet’s debut album, “Similar Motion,” is available on Albany Records.

Emilie-Anne Gendron

Emilie-Anne Gendron, violin

Emilie-Anne Gendron is a freelance violinist based in New York. A deeply committed chamber musician, Gendron is a core member and frequent leader of the Sejong Soloists; a member of the Toomai String Quintet; and on the roster of the Marlboro Music Festival and the touring Musicians From Marlboro. Gendron is a past winner of the Stulberg String Competition and took 2nd Prize and the Audience Prize at the 2009 Sion-Valais International Violin Competition. She was trained at the Juilliard School where her teachers were Won-Bin Yim, Dorothy DeLay, David Chan, and Hyo Kang. She holds the Artist Diploma and Master of Music degree from Juilliard, as well as a B.A. in Classics from Columbia as a graduate of the Columbia-Juilliard joint-degree program.

Alex Shiozaki

Alex Shiozaki, violin

Violinist Alex Shiozaki has performed in such venues as Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York City, Paine Hall at Harvard University, and Sapporo Concert Hall Kitara in Japan, and has appeared as a soloist with orchestras including the Sendai Philharmonic, AXIOM Ensemble, and the Juilliard Orchestra. Other highlights include summer residencies at the Tanglewood Music Center as a New Fromm Player and a Japan tour with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. A member of the Momenta Quartet since 2016, he also regularly performs with Le Train Bleu, ACME, and Argento Ensemble. As part of the Shiozaki Duo with his wife and pianist Nana Shi, Alex has given recitals in New York, Boston, Washington D.C., and California. Holding a B.A. from Harvard College and an M.M. and D.M.A. from the Juilliard School, he counts among his teachers Ronald Copes and Joseph Lin of the Juilliard String Quartet, Lynn Chang, and Robin Sharp.

Stephanie Griffin

Stephanie Griffin

Born in Canada and based in New York City, Stephanie Griffinin an innovative violist and composer with an eclectic musical vision. Her musical adventures have taken her to Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, England, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Mexico and Mongolia. She plays regularly as a soloist and with the Momenta Quartet, Continuum and the Argento Chamber Ensemble. As an improviser, she performs in numerous avant-jazz collectives and was a 2014 Fellow at Music Omi. She holds a doctorate from the Juilliard School, serves on the faculty of Brooklyn College, and has recorded for Tzadik, Innova and Albany Records. Griffin is a 2016 fellow in Music from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Michael Haas

Michael Haas, cello

Michael Haas is an accomplished and exciting young cellist, performing in New York City and around the world. In a recent performance his playing was noted as “refined and attractive” by the New York Times. Leading a varied musical life, Haas is equally at home performing chamber music and orchestral repertoire both old and new. He has recently appeared performing at Symphony Space, the New York Live Arts Theater, Le Poisson Rouge, as well as for Tertulia, a new series bringing chamber music to intimate settings around New York City. In addition to his work with Momenta, Haas has been a member of the New Haven Symphony since 2008. He regularly performs with the Princeton Symphony and in New York with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Haas holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School studying with David Soyer, Peter Wiley, Joel Krosnick, and Darrett Adkins. Also an active teacher, he received Suzuki teaching certification from New York’s School for Strings and has taught at the CUNY Bronx Community College.