Like an underwater explorer taking soundings to determine the location, depth, and structure of objects below the surface, “Soundings” allow us to listen more deeply. Each Soundings program focuses on a single musical composition, performed twice. Between the performances, a visual artist presents newly commissioned works. Audience, quartet, and artist share thoughts, insights and impressions. Then a snack and some drinks… and a second listening.
Soundings 4.2 features just intonation composer Ben Johnston’s Quartet no. 3 & 4 “Crossings”, with photography by Elmore DeMott, in a artistic response to her mother’s Alzheimer’s.
6:30PM – reception with the artists
7:00PM – performance, artwork, & discussions
A statement from artist Elmore Demott:
As an artist, I use the medium of photography to express thoughts and emotions. Often, it is other art forms, including music, theatre, poetry and architecture that provide me with inspiration. The Del Sol Quartet gave me the unique opportunity to use music as inspiration through a collaboration for a 2017 Soundings project. Del Sol will be performing Crossings, a work composed by Ben Johnston comprising of two separate quartets with obligatory silence in the middle. Johnston describes the music as “a transformation/journey from one leaf of a diptych to the other, from one rim of a canyon to the other, from one quartet to another.” Keeping with his transformation theme is my budding series of photographs, Flowers for Mom- my artistic response to the treacherous journey from one life to another as I face my mother’s days with Alzheimer’s.
Elmore DeMott, an Alabama based photographer who received her BA in Math and Fine Art from Vanderbilt, started her own photography studio after a career in business. She also has a special interest in music education and engaging new audiences, serving as founding president of ClefWorks, in various volunteer capacities with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, and as executive director of the Montgomery Area Business Committee for the Arts. Her award winning photographs are featured in publications, private and corporate art collections, galleries and juried art exhibits, and she has taught photography and music appreciation classes at the Chautauqua Institution in New York. www.elmoredemott.com
Hailed by Gramophone as “masters of all musical things they survey,” the Del Sol String Quartet shares living music with an ever-growing community of adventurous listeners. Fascinated by the feedback loop between social change, technology, and artistic innovation, the San Francisco-based ensemble is a leading force in 21st century chamber music whether introducing Ben Johnston’s microtonal Americana at the Library of Congress, exploring Andean soundscapes with Gabriela Lena Frank and traditional musicians, deconstructing Ruth Crawford’s radical experimental processes with East Bay schoolchildren, or rocking Mason Bates’ techno grooves in his San Francisco dance party. The New York Times praised Del Sol’s most recent recording, Scrapyard Exotica, “See if your foot can stay still once you put on this funky disc of rhythmically infectious… music played by the adventurous Del Sol String Quartet.”
Ben Johnston (b. 1926), called “the best non-famous composer this country has to offer” (NY Times), writes challenging works using “just intonation” that incorporate elements of neoclassicism, serialism, jazz, hymns and songs. Born in Macon, Georgia, he began piano lessons at the age of six and started composing at age 11. He pioneered the use of microtones and non-tempered tuning, to which he was introduced through the work of Harry Partch while earning his Master’s degree at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Johnston worked with Partch in CA, studied with Darius Milhaud at Mills College and later with John Cage. He taught theory and composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for 30 years, retiring as Emeritus Professor of Music. Johnston’s compositions include works for opera, theater, dance, orchestra, chamber ensembles, voice, piano, and tape. In 2007 the American Academy of Arts and Letters honored his lifetime of work, and he has received other national and international grants, awards and commissions.