Monday, April 15, 2019

Irvine Arditti celebrates 30-plus years of partnership with David Felder at June in Buffalo 2019

There are interesting parallels between the lives of noted British violinist Irvine Arditti and the Center for 21st Century Music’s Artistic Director, American composer David Felder. Both men were born in the same year, 1953, and came of age in the mid-1970s, displaying a precocious musical maturity and aptitude for contemporary music. Felder’s "opus 1"—Nexus, a daring solo work for bass trombone—was written at the same time that Arditti founded the ensemble that would earn him countless accolades in the four and a half decades since, the Arditti Quartet. Toward the end of the 1970s, Arditti chose to leave his post as the London Symphony Orchestra’s Co-Concertmaster to devote more time to the Arditti Quartet, and Felder quit his teaching job at the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music to pursue a PhD at the University of California, San Diego. As difficult as these decisions might have seemed at the time, both proved wise in the long run. The Arditti Quartet would go on to become worldwide leaders in the promotion of contemporary music, and Felder would likewise build an award-winning career that would distinguish him as a leader of his generation of composers. So, at that juncture in the 1980s, it was only a matter of time before the paths of these two luminaries of contemporary music crossed.

Brad Lubman, Signal Ensemble's director, Felder, and Arditti discuss Jeu de Tarot (2018)

An important part of Felder’s trajectory included the revival of the University at Buffalo’s June in Buffalo Festival in the mid-1980s, which had been dormant since Morton Feldman founded and led it between 1975-80. Soon thereafter, June in Buffalo’s gravitational pull brought Arditti and his Quartet to Buffalo in 1988 to premiere Felder’s first string quartet, Third Face, commissioned by the Quartet and the North American New Music Festival.

Music of David Felder (1995) included a recording of  Third Face by the Arditti Quartet; this CD is available for purchase via this link

Their collaboration had undeniable chemistry, and the partnership between Arditti and Felder grew stronger and stronger as the years went by, leading to several additional residencies at June in Buffalo and two more commissions for the quartet: Stuck-Stücke, premiered in 2007, and Netivot, an ambitious multimedia work for string quartet, electronics and an optional video component from 2016. Most recently, Felder collaborated extensively with Arditti to produce a half-hour-long violin concerto, Jeu de Tarot. As it has been discussed at some length in an earlier post, Jeu de Tarot consists of seven movements in which the soloist and the ensemble explore a scene suggested by the rich symbology of images found on Tarot cards. Arditti and Signal Ensemble premiered the work a couple of years ago at the University at Buffalo's Lippes Concert Hall.

Arditti soloing with Signal Ensemble in Felder's Jeu de Tarot

In early May 2019, as detailed in a recent post, the Arditti Quartet arrives in Buffalo to present a program comprised by Jeu de Tarot and the three monumental quartets Felder has written for the group over the past 30 years. About a month later, Arditti returns sans the other three members of his ensemble to present a solo recital at June in Buffalo 2019. Arditti's recital takes place on Thursday, June 6th, at 7:30 pm in Baird Recital Hall, and will include Felder’s Another Face for violin and electronics, along with other works by Brian Ferneyhough, Rolf Wallin, and the festival’s participant student composers.

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