With NPR’s classical blog buzz of the week about the Brooklyn Rider String Quartet recording of composer Philip Glass, our very own Meridian Quartet’s “Modern Masterpieces” theme is well-timed.
Perhaps the most well-known working composer, Glass’ music consists of evolving rhythmic patterns and complex themes. His music tends to place more emphasis on highlighting the melody, rather than focusing on timing, as in traditional classical pieces. As a modern composer, his work is respected and generally well-appreciated.
Glass also strives to bridge many genres with his music, including cinema and fine art. His String Quartet Number 4, nick-named “Buczak,” commemorates Brian Buczak’s life as an artist. Buczak lost his life to AIDS, and Glass captures in music the many emotions we feel just after the loss of a loved one. The long chords, high-reaching notes and circular variations, all in minor modes, mimic the mourning cycle of denial, anger, bargaining and depression. The quartet ends by settling into the peaceful, major mode where after a long struggle we finally accept the loss. The Meridian Quartet will perform the first and third movements of the quartet at today’s Music on the Green performance.
Also included in “Modern Masterpieces” are compositions that push the boundary of “music.”  Pieces that explore realms of tonality and noises rather than melody and rhythm often give people the impression that the music is weird or unpleasant or not even music at all. Prospect Blog writer David Stubbs challenges people to think of John Cage’s “4:33” (also part of today’s program) as “sound art.”  This way, as we listen, we will bring a new set of cognitive schemes to the experience, rather than our prior expectation of how music should sound.  Thus modern classical music must be listened to in a different way than traditional classical music, just as we listen and enjoy jazz, rock, and rap differently.
Guardian Blog writer Alex Ross writes, “All music is an acquired taste; no music is everywhere beloved.” We hope that today’s concert will give you a little taste of modern music. You may find parts you love, you may find parts you hate, but hopefully you will take away another cognitive layer to add to your definition of music appreciation.
The Meridian Quartet
The Meridian Quartet will perform the next two Thursdays starting at 12:15pm at the Yampa River Botanic Park. The program on Thursday July 21 is “From Russia with Love,” featuring Russian composers Borodin, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. On Thursday July 28, “How Does It Make You Feel?” presents emotional music from Mozart and Schubert, among others.
The Meridian Quartet is Strings Music Festival’s 2011 Young-Artists-in-Resident quartet. Founded in 2008 when the members were all Fellows in the New World Symphony, they have been with Strings for three seasons. The members are Anastasia Storer on violin, Claude Halter on violin, Karl Pedersen on viola and Anne Lee on cello.

Posted on July 14, 2011
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