SoundLAB Concert Program Notes: The Barnes/Stokowski Festival

PhilOrch Blog: ListeningLAB: The Barnes/Stokowski Festival

OCTOBER 12, 2018

posted by Robert Whalen and Katherine Skovira

“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future…”

—T.S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton” from Four Quartets

SoundLAB presents two contemporary chamber concerts on October 16 and 18 as guest ensemble in The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Barnes/Stokowski Festival. The Festival is in celebration of Maestro Leopold Stokowski and Dr. Albert Barnes, two neighbors, art lovers, and innovators who had a lasting and indelible imprint on the artistic climate of Philadelphia and contemporary music’s home there.

Stokowski was a stalwart advocate for contemporary composers and he was responsible for dozens of premieres with The Philadelphia Orchestra. Art collector and educator Barnes arranged unique configurations of the pieces in his collection into what he called “ensembles” to educate his students about the inherent connections between the art of the past and present. In the spirit of these two innovators, we have prepared “ensembles” of musical recordings to contextualize the pieces premiering as part of the Festival’s chamber concerts.

Barnes and Stokowski saw that the musical past was not a closed book but rather a continuum, and the art and artists of the past informed the creators of the present. In the same way, in these ensembles you will find formal and structural similarities, as well as stylistic differences: look for qualities of melody, harmony, dynamic contrast, articulation, how the composer used instrumental colors, and the overall impression that the composition communicates to you. The ensembles are organized around SoundLAB’s programs on October 16 and 18, and include pieces of the past, fellow contemporaries, and other works by the composer herself or himself.

Barnes’s ensembles were dynamic: Dr. Barnes constantly rearranged his works based on the message he hoped to communicate and the art that he discovered over time. In the same spirit, please e-mail us at with what you think would make a great pairing with these works, along with a brief description of why, and we will be happy to consider including it.

“Ensembles” for “Into Darkness”, October 16 with the JACK Quartet and SoundLAB

ENSEMBLE I: Sophie Lacaze (b. 1963) Archèlogos II, for bass flute and audio track (2012) (US premiere)
Pierre-Yves Artaud Flute

1. Edgard Varèse (1883-1965)
 Density 21.5, for solo flute (1936, rev. 1946)
Claire Chase Flute

2. Claude Debussy (1862-1918) Syrinx, for solo flute (1913)
Emmanuel Pahud Flute


3. John Lennon (1940-80) and Paul McCartney (b. 1942) “Revolution No. 9” (1968)
The Beatles


4. Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) Kontakte, for piano, percussion, and electronics (1960)
James Tenney Piano
William Winant Percussion
Karlheinz Stockhausen Electronics


ENSEMBLE II: Zosha Di Castri (b. 1985) The Contours of Absence, for two string quartets (2018) (US premiere)
No recording yet


1. Tristan Murail (b. 1947) Désintégrations, for chamber orchestra (1982)
Ensemble Intercontemporain
David Robertson


2. György Ligeti (1923-2006) Chamber Concerto (1969-1970)
Ensemble Intercontemporain
Susanna Mälkki


3. Georg Friedrich Haas (b. 1953) in vain, for chamber orchestra (2000/2002)
Argento Ensemble
Michel Galante


4. Vinko Globokar (b. 1934) Toucher, for solo percussion (1973)
Jean-Pierre Drouet Voice and Percussion


5. Zosha Di Castri (b. 1985) String Quartet No. 1 (2016)
Argus Quartet


ENSEMBLE III: Georg Friedrich Haas (b. 1953) String Quartet No. 9 (2016) (performed in total darkness) (Philadelphia premiere)


1. Gérard Grisey (1946-98) Partiels, for chamber orchestra (1975)
Ensemble Ars Nova
Boris De Vinogradov


2. Alois Hába (1893-1973) The Way of Life, Symphonic Fantasy, Op. 46 (1933)
Film Symphony Orchestra
Štěpán Koníček


3. Charles Ives (1874-1954) Three Quarter-Tone Pieces, for two pianos (1923-24)
Alexei Lubimov and Pierre-Laurent Aimard Pianos


4. Charles Ives (1874-1954) Three Places in New England (1910-14, rev. 1929)
Boston Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas


5. Ivan Wyschnegradsky (1893-1979) Prelude No. 5, from Twenty-four Preludes in Quarter-tones, Op. 22, No. 5 (1934)
Pianist unlisted 


6. Friedrich Cerha (b. 1926) Spiegel II (1960-61)
Southwest German Radio Symphony
Ernest Bour


Ensembles for “At First Light”, October 18 with SoundLAB

ENSEMBLE I: Oliver Knussen (1952-2018) Coursing, Op. 17, for chamber orchestra (1979) (Philadelphia premiere)
London Sinfonietta 
Oliver Knussen 


1. Elliott Carter (1908-2012) String Quartet No. 3 (1971)

JACK Quartet


2. Brian Ferneyhough (b. 1943) Dum transisset, for string quartet (2007)
Artists unlisted


3. Benjamin Britten (1913-76) Third movement from The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34 (1945)
Berlin Philharmonic 
Simon Rattle


4. Alban Berg (1885-1935) Chamber Concerto for Piano, Violin, and Thirteen Wind Instruments (1925)
Boulez Ensemble
Daniel Barenboim


5. Oliver Knussen (1952-2018) Flourish with Fireworks, Op. 22 (1993)
London Sinfonietta
Oliver Knussen


6. Conlon Nancarrow (1912-97) Study for Player Piano No. 21 (Canon X) (1961-65)
Player piano


ENSEMBLE II: Misato Mochizuki (b. 1969) All that is including me, for bass flute, clarinet, and violin (1996)
Klangforum Wien

1. Misato Mochizuki
 (b. 1969) Chimera, for chamber ensemble (2000)
Klangforum Wien

2. Gérard Grisey (1946-98) Le Temps et l'écume, for four percussionists, two synthesizers, and chamber orchestra (1988/1989)
Ensemble S/WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln


3. Enno Poppe (b. 1969) Wald, for four string quartets (2010)
Artists unlisted


4. György Ligeti (1923-2006) String Quartet No. 2 (1968)
Arditti Quartet


ENSEMBLE III: Michèle Reverdy (b. 1943) Dix musiques minutes, for string trio (1994) (US premiere)
Guy Comentale Violon
Laurent Verney Viola
Dominique de Williencourt Cello


1. Olivier Messiaen (1908-92) Fourth movement from Quartet for the End of Time(1940)
Barnaby Robson Clarinet
James Clark Violin
David Cohen Cello
Matthew Schellhorn Piano


2. Anton Webern (1883-1945) Five Movements, Op. 5, for string quartet (1909)
Juilliard String Quartet


3. Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013) Ainsi la nuit, for stringn quartet (1973-76)
Belcea Quartet


ENSEMBLE IV: Michelle Agnes Magalhaes (b. 1979) Mobile, for prepared piano (2013) (US premiere)
Neus Estarella Prepared Piano


1. Henry Cowell (1897-1965) The Banshee (1925)
Henry Cowell Piano


2. Chaya Czernowin (b. 1957) Sahaf, for saxophone, e-guitar, percussion, and piano (2008)
Ensemble Nikel


3. John Cage (1912-92) Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano (1948)
Steffen Schleiermacher Prepared Piano


4. Clara Iannotta (b. 1983) Limun, for violin, viola, and two page turners (2011)
Melise Mellinger Violin
Barbara Maurer Viola


5. Michelle Agnes Magalhaes (b. 1979) Play and Theory of the Duende, for bass flute, violin, cello, and harp (2016)
Ensemble Multilatérale
Léo Warynski


ENSEMBLE V: Augusta Read Thomas (b. 1964) Plea for Peace, a vocalize for soprano and string quartet (2017)
Prayer and Celebration, for chamber orchestra (2006)


1. Luciano Berio (1925-2003) O King, for mezzo-soprano and five players (1968)
Göteborgs Symfoniker
London Voices
Peter Eötvös


2. Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) Fourth movement from Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin


3. Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) “Soupir,” from Trois Poèmes de Mallarmé (1913)
Anne Sofie von Otter Mezzo-soprano
Ulf Forsberg and Nils-Erik Sparf Violins
Matti Hirvikangas Viola
Mats Lindström Cello
Peter Rydström Piccolo/Flute
Andreas Alin Flute
Per Billman Clarinet/Bass Clarinet
Lars Paulsson Clarinet
Bengt Forsberg Piano


4. Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) Agon (1957)
London Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas


ENSEMBLE VI: George Benjamin (b. 1960) At First Light, for chamber orchestra (1982) (Philadelphia premiere)


1. Edgard Varèse (1883-1965) Octandre, for chamber orchestra (1923)
ASKO Ensemble


2. Olivier Messiaen (1908-92) Chronochromie (1960)
Bavarian Radio Symphony
Karl Anton Rickenbacher


3. Pierre Boulez (1925-2016) Cummings ist der Dichter, for 16 vocalists and orchestra (1970/1986)
SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart
Ensemble Intercontemporain
George Benjamin


4. György Ligeti (1923-2006) Clocks and Clouds, for chamber orchestra and 12-part women’s chorus (1972-73)
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
George Benjamin


5. Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) Piano Concerto for the Left Hand (1929-30)
Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire
André Cluytens
Samson François Piano


6. George Benjamin (b. 1960) Octet, for flute/piccolo, clarinet, violin, viola, cello,
double bass, celesta, and percussion
London Sinfonietta
London Philharmonic
George Benjamin


SoundLAB Programs

Into Darkness
Tuesday October 16 
7:30 PM
American Philosophical Society
427 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

Lacaze Archèlogos II, for bass flute and audio track (US premiere) 
Di Castri The Contours of Absence, for two string quartets (US premiere)
Haas String Quartet No. 9 (performed in total darkness) (Philadelphia premiere)

New contemporary music ensemble SoundLAB is led by Music Director Robert Whalen and Artistic Director Katherine Skovira, whose “diabolical enthusiasm … left me nearly begging for mercy … the artistic equivalent of NASA's New Horizons.” (Philadelphia Inquirer). Contemporary “flute phenom” (Philadelphia Inquirer) Emma Resmini launches SoundLAB’s “Into Darkness” with the American premiere of Sophie Lacaze’s Archèlogos II. Lacaze recorded the electronic track at an archeological dig in the castle of Termes in the Pyrenees of Southern France. The JACK Quartet, which the Boston Globe describes as “superheroes of the new music world,” will collaborate with SoundLAB on the American premiere of Zosha Di Castri’s The Contours of Absence, written in remembrance of composer Matt Marks. The JACK Quartet will close the program with the Philadelphia premiere of Georg Friedrich Haas’s String Quartet No. 9, a vast and dramatic work to be performed in total darkness.

Robert Whalen (photo by Keitaro Harada) and Katherine Skovira (photo by Todd Rosenberg)

JACK Quartet. Photo by Beowulf Sheenan

Augusta Read Thomas. Photo by Anthony Barlich

At First Light
Thursday October 18 
7:30 PM
Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral
23 S. 38th St., Philadelphia, PA

Knussen Coursing, Op. 17 for chamber orchestra (Philadelphia premiere) 
Mochizuki All that is including me, for bass flute, clarinet, and violin (US premiere)
Reverdy Dix musiques minutes, for string trio (US premiere)
Magalhaes Mobile, for prepared piano (US premiere)
Thomas Plea for Peace, a vocalise for soprano and string quartet (Philadelphia premiere)
Thomas  Prayer and Celebration, for chamber orchestra (Philadelphia premiere)
Benjamin At First Light, for chamber orchestra (Philadelphia premiere)

SoundLAB’s final appearance in the Barnes/Stokowski Festival is this virtuosic program of contemporary masterpieces, including six Philadelphia premieres and three American premieres, with works by Oliver Knussen, George Benjamin, and Composer-in-Residence Augusta Read Thomas. The program features performances of Thomas’s Prayer and Celebration and Plea for Peace alongside the works of French composer Michèle Reverdy, Japanese composer Misato Mochizuki, and Brazilian composer Michelle Agnes Magalhaes, whose gripping voices will reach a new Philadelphia audience in their American premieres.

Learn more about The Philadelphia Orchestra's Barnes/Stokowski Festival here.

The Barnes/Stokowski Festival is generously sponsored through a gift from Mari and Peter Shaw.

The participation of SoundLAB in the Barnes/Stokowski Festival has been made possible through the New Music Fund, a program of FACE Foundation, with generous funding from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, the Florence Gould Foundation, Fondation CHANEL, the French Ministry of Culture, the Institut Français-Paris, and SACEM (Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs, et Editeurs de Musique). Additional support is provided by the University of Pennsylvania Music Department’s Contemporary Music Series and the American Composers Forum Philadelphia Chapter. Additional support is provided by the University of Pennsylvania Music Department’s Contemporary Music Series and the American Composers Forum Philadelphia Chapter.

Special thanks to Flute Pro Shop, Night Vision Rentals, and Christopher Andrew Studios, the American Philosophical Society, the Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, and the University of Pennsylvania Department of Music.

For more information, please visit

Robert Whalen is Music Director of SoundLAB and Katherine Skovira is Artistic Director.

Republished from the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Blog, October 1, 2018:’s-“ensembles”#

Katherine Skovira