Concert 3: Alpaca String Quartet, Local Women Composers

Saturday, March 7 | 7:30 pm
Charter Oak Cultural Center
21 Charter Oak Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

The Hartford-based Alpaca String Quartet will perform works by Liliya Ugay, Mo Zhao, Victoria Bond, Rain Worthington, Debra Kaye, and Patricia Julien, whose works were selected for their musical merit and diverse interest from a score call by the creative team at the 2015 Women Composers Festival of Hartford. This concert will also feature a bass clarinet duet by Lisa Renee Coons and music for viola and tape by Jessica Meyer. Join us for an exciting evening of innovative explorations of the string quartet, a traditional staple of classical music.


Program Notes

Coquí by Victoria Bond

Coquí is the common name for several species of small frogs found in Puerto Rico, onomatopoeically named for the loud sound the males make at night, sometimes reaching as high as 100 decibels! It is the unofficial symbol of Puerto Rico and is very popular, enlivening the evenings with its ko-kee from which it get its name. The coquies begin to sing when the sun goes down at dusk, singing all night long until dawn. When I visited Puerto Rico, the lusty serenade of these tireless divos fascinated me, and I imagined strange love songs, whose messages could only be comprehended by their lady loves, filling the night with arias unknown to human beings.

Duet by Lisa Coons

Duet was written for the San Francisco bass clarinet duo Sqwonk in 2012. I had just started my new position at Western Michigan University, and as a young, untenured faculty member, I was completely overwhelmed. Afraid that I couldn’t keep up with all of the new work, unable to stop thinking about work, I wrote this short piece as a sort of catharsis. The players are never given autonomy, but rather are interconnected throughout the work in interlocking gestures (either quick, fragmented rhythmic exchanges or slow, multiphonic lines). Neither is given a clear melody or motive of their own, and the material keeps cycling back on itself. They are always part of the duo, never individuals. My thanks to the incredible duo Sqwonk for the opportunity to collaborate on this project with The Collected.

Taboo from Power by Patricia Julien

Power for solo flute explores the idea of power—who has it, and how it is displayed, portrayed, and sustained. The first movement (“Taboo”) is about a 2006 honor killing in Syria. For this movement, I chose words from a report about the killing: “Mentioning the killing, or even the name of the victim, generally becomes taboo.” This language starkly reveals that not only is the woman deprived of living her full life, but through the lens of tradition, she did not live at all. The words encouraged me to think about making the invisible visible through audible, labored breathing and using symbolic physical motion, contorting the body in an effort to look haggard and broken, and tying a scarf on the flute to represent either strangulation or comfort, depending on the interpretation of the performer. The words are sung while playing; some are intelligible and others difficult to comprehend.

Dialogue with the Ghost by Debra Kaye

Dialogue with the Ghost explores the cello’s lyric and percussive possibilities in a haunting question and answer.

Source of Joy by Jessica Meyer

Here I play with the kinds of sounds that go against the typical “viola” stereotype: instead of its moody and dark persona, the instrument is transformed into a lighter version of itself to capture fleeting moments of pure happiness.

Released by Jessica Meyer

Back in 2013, a mother of a friend of mine died in a tragic car accident on I-95.  A truck unexpectedly crossed over the median and crashed head-on into her car.  I often wonder what those last moments of life might be like.  You hear about flickering lights and memories, and perhaps a swirling vortex of images of your life flashing before your eyes.  However quick or prolonged, panicked or serene, I believe there is a moment of irrefutable recognition when you know death is coming and you are about to be released into the other side.  This piece explores all of these ideas, in the hopes that one would ultimately find peace when they get there.

Night Stream by Rain Worthington

Reflecting on the flow of life and time, imagined impressionistically as lights streaming across a rain- streaked window on a late night taxi ride through city streets.

Fantasy and Dance by Mo Zhao

This work for string quartet draws influence from the musical traditions of the Uyghur people. The Uyghur people are a Turkish ethnic group that predominately lives in the XinJiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. Music and dance is an important aspect to their culture and their traditional music is often lively and rhythmic. I particularly enjoy the sounds of their music and hope to explore them in this string quartet. Fantasy and Dance is not an exact imitation of their folk style; rather, I hope to transfer the same vibrant energy to the string quartet ensemble.

Fantasy and Dance was a winning selection of the Boston Composers’ Coalition Call for Scores and it was premiered by the Arneis Quartet in April, 2014. Since then, the piece has been performed in a wine bar, in a performing arts high school, and at music festivals across the U.S.

Composer Bios

Victoria Bond’s commissions include: American Ballet Theater, Pennsylvania Ballet, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Houston and Shanghai Symphony Orchestras, Cleveland and Indianapolis Chamber Orchestras and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her compositions have been performed by Dallas Symphony, New York City Opera, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Anchorage Opera, Irish National Orchestra (RTE), and members of the New York Philharmonic. She received the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Walter Hinrichsen Award and Miriam Gideon Prize. She has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal and on NBC’s Today Show and featured in People magazine and in the New York Times.

2015 Composer-in-Residence Lisa Renee Coons is a composer and sound artist with a special affinity to noise composition, collaboration, and experimentation.  She is dedicated to progressive art and focuses on partnerships with other artists and musicians as a means of developing innovative new works.  Presently an assistant professor of music composition at Western Michigan University, Lisa Renée received her PhD in Composition from Princeton University, her Master’s from SUNY Stony Brook and studied at the University of Missouri-Kansas City during her undergraduate degree.  Before joining WMU she was a Jackie McLean Fellow and visiting professor at the Hartt School in the University of Hartford.  Her portfolio includes music for acoustic and electronic instruments, turntables, traditional ensembles, and her own welded percussion sculptures.  She has received awards and support from the Other Minds Festival (a 2011 Composer Fellowship), ASCAP (Morton Gould Young Composer Award 2005/Honorable Mention 2009), and Meet the Composer, among others.  Recent commissions include an evening-length work for The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and pieces for The California E.A.R. Unit, The Machine Project for the Hammer Museum of Los Angeles, the Violin Futura Project, and Dither Electric Guitar Quartet.  Lisa Renée is a founding member of the bicoastal composers collective called, simply, The Collected (

Patricia Julien ( holds the M.M. in Jazz and Commercial Studiesfrom Manhattan School of Music and the Ph.D. in Music Theory from University of Maryland, College Park. She composes works for mixed-voice choral ensembles, solo voice and piano,orchestra, contemporary chamber ensembles, small jazz combos,and big band. Patricia also writes original music for theatrical productions. She has received numerous commissions and her works have been performed throughout the United States and in China. She teaches courses in Music Theory and Jazz Composition and Arranging at the University of Vermont, and performs widely as a jazz flutist.

Composer Debra Kaye’s debut CD on Ravello Records was released to critical acclaim in October 2014: “…perfectly executed tracks…focused, inspirational, and precise. This is an album that will surely stand the test of time” ( Career highlights include awards from ASCAP, Meet the Composer, Mannes College, Edward T. Cone Foundation, residencies at the Millay Colony and Helene Wurlitzer Foundation and three Off-Off Broadway productions of The Ugly Duckling, with laudatory notice from the NY Times. Kaye is on the faculty of Mannes Prep & Next, and holds degrees from Mannes College and New York University.

Hailed for her “polish, focus, and excitement” (The New York Times), Jessica Meyer is a versatile violist and composer whose passionate musicianship radiates accessibility, generosity, fun and clarity. As a soloist, Jessica has premiered pieces for solo viola around the country, and is committed to expanding the repertoire for viola by commissioning new works while also composing her own.  Ms. Meyer’s compositions explore the wide palette of expressive colors available to each instrument while using traditional and extended techniques inspired by her varied experiences as a contemporary and period instrumentalist.  Last season included premieres at the DiMenna Center, the Firehouse New Music Series, Spectrum NYC, the Tribeca New Music Festival, and at ETHEL’s Met Balcony Bar series.  In August 2014, she was featured on Q2′s marathon of Emerging Women Composers and was recently awarded a grant from the Jerome Fund for New Music to write a new work for cello, piano and countertenor.  Her recent CD, “Sounds of Being”, was praised by the blog Second Inversion – the review can be read at

Rain Worthington has a distinct voice in the field of contemporary music, influenced by world music, minimalism and romanticism. Her emotionally evocative music is nuanced, delicate, passionate and transporting. As music journalist Bob Briggs noted,“… she writes music which speaks to the senses, is packed with real emotion and, most important of all in contemporary music, really communicates.” Rain takes “…ideas of American musical style to a new place–like a walk in a familiar, yet very different park… And isn’t afraid to come up with its own startling conclusions.” (Kyle Gann,Chamber Music magazine)

Mo Zhao is an emerging young composer who has written works for ensembles including orchestral, choral, chamber, and soprano with rock musicians. Her music has been performed in United States and United Kingdom. One of her most recent works, “Fantasy and Dance,” was premiered by the award-winning Arneis String Quartet and was a selected composition of Boston Composers’ Coalition’s Call for Scores. Her works have been premiered in, among other venues, the National Portrait Gallery (London, UK), Tsai Performance Center, and Marsh Chapel.