House Blend is PS21’s annual chamber music series exploring a full range of adventurous music and creative modes of expression, fostering new collaborations specific to our place, venue, and audiences.
This stylistically diverse series surveys cutting edge new music and bold works of the past, creating new contexts for experiencing music in which even the familiar becomes surprising. All programs are developed for our space with an eye toward bringing virtuosic and thoughtful musicians together in genre-defying collaborations. Audiences are invited to go more deeply into the music with open rehearsals, workshops, artist talks, and informal post-concert discussions designed to guide the listener through the mysteries of these daring works. Brewed specially for the audience, House Blend invites listeners to experience vital music in stimulating new ways.
Georg Philipp Telemann: Suite for Two Violins, “Gulliver’s Travels” TWV 40:108(1728)
Rhiannon Giddens:At the Purchaser’s Option (2016) for string quartet
Luciano Berio: Sequenza II (1963) for harp
Henriette Renié: Trio for harp, violin and violoncello 1. Allegro risoluto (1901)
Wang Huiran: Dance of the Yi People (1960) for pipa solo
Tan Dun: Concerto for String Quartet and Pipa (1999)
Performed by the Ulysses Quartet, Sun Li (pipa), Nuiko Wadden (harp)
Please note that the 7 PM House Blend II concert will make use of our flexible, reconfigurable theater, with seating in the round. When making your purchase you will be asked to select a seat from the conventional layout, but all seating will be General Admission, surrounding the musicians in this intimate, special arrangement. Every seat is up close with great sight lines and sound.
House Blend Open Stages, 1 PM: FREE
Beethoven:String Quartet No. 9 in C major, Op. 59, No. 3
The second House Blend installment of the summer features a world of string instruments, both bowed and plucked. The Ulysses Quartet, singled out for embodying “the kind of chemistry many quartets long for, but rarely achieve” (The Strad) returns to PS21 with Nuiko Wadden, harp, and Sun Li, pipa. Tan Dun’s Concerto for String Quartet and Pipa positions this traditional Chinese instrument, a four-string plucked lute,as the soloist in a work inspired by China's 4000-year-old tradition of Taoist funerals where shamans communicate with spirits from the past and future and establish dialogues between nature and the human soul. Berio’s landmark Sequenza II for solo harp is a virtuosic exploration of the full range of the instrument, at times loud and aggressive, at others sounding like a forest with the wind blowing through it. Harpist Nuiko Wadden joins the members of the quartet for a trio by Henriette Renié, a revolutionary force in the world of harp at the turn of 20th century France. The quartet is featured in works by Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur grant recipient Rhiannon Giddens and Telemann’s charming Gulliver's Travels for two violins.
House Blend Open Stages
At 1 PM, the Ulysses Quartet performs an intimate, limited audience, pay-as-you-wish event, with seating on the theater stage, featuring works by Beethoven and Zosha Di Castri. Sit alongside the quartet for an interactive performance and discussion of one of the classics of the repertoire and a new work by one of the leading voices in contemporary composition.
Ludwig van Beethoven:String Quartet No. 9 in C major, Op. 59, No. 3
Zosha Di Castri: String Quartet No. 1 (2016)
About the Artists
The Ulysses Quartet has been praised for their “textural versatility,” “grave beauty” and “the kind of chemistry many quartets long for, but rarely achieve” (The Strad), as well as their “avid enthusiasm ... [with] chops to back up their passion” (San Diego Story), “delivered with a blend of exuberance and polished artistry” (The Buffalo News).
Founded in the summer of 2015, the group won the grand prize and gold medal in the senior string division of the 2016 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and first prize in the 2018 Schoenfeld International String Competition. In 2017, the quartet finished first in the American Prize and won second prize at the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition. They were winners of the Vietnam International Music Competition in 2019. Ulysses garnered a career development grant in the 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition.
Consisting of violinists Christina Bouey and Rhiannon Banerdt, violist Colin Brookes and cellist Grace Ho, the quartet’s members hail from Canada, the United States and Taiwan. They have performed in such prestigious halls as Carnegie Hall, the Harbin Grand Theatre, Jordan Hall and the Taiwan National Recital Hall. Recent performance highlights include their debut at Carnegie Hall along with appearances at the Chautauqua Institution (New York), Sociedad Filarmónica de Bilbao (Spain), Ciclo de Cámara y Solistas in Salamanca, the Picasso Museum in Málaga, Teatro Mayor Julio Santo Domingo in Bogotá, Highlands Cashiers Festival (North Carolina), Music Mountain (Connecticut) with pianist Tanya Bannister, Chelsea Music Festival and PS21 (NY), National Gallery of Art (DC), Jasper Arts Center (Indiana), and San Juan Chamber Music Festival (Colorado). The 22-23 season also features their Mexico City debut at UNAM, along with performances for Sociedad Filarmónica in Lima, Gretna Music, Yale School of Music with guitarist Ben Verdery, Kansas City Friends of Chamber Music, Fundación Juan March (Madrid), Sociedad Filarmónica in Valencia, Basel Kammermusik, and Chamber Music Society of Utica (NY). Other notable engagements have included the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Premiere Performances Hong Kong, National Arts Centre (Ottawa), and Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall (Istanbul).
Nuiko Wadden is the principal harpist of Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet Orchestras as well as the Des Moines Metro Opera. She is a founding member of the Kassia Ensemble, and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).
Ms. Wadden has been a prizewinner in numerous competitions, recognized by the Minnesota Orchestra (WAMSO), Ann Adams, ASTA, and American Harp Society. As a soloist she has appeared with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Skokie Valley Symphony, the Chicago Metropolitan Symphony, and the Northwest Symphony.
She serves as a substitute harpist for the Minnesota, Houston, Milwaukee and Baltimore Symphonies.
To date, Ms. Wadden has appeared on the New Amsterdam, Cedille, Bridge, New Focus, and North/South recording labels. Over the span of her career, she has performed world premieres of both solo and chamber works by Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Suzanne Farrin, Pierre Jalbert, Hilda Paredes, Karim Al-Zand, and John Luther Adams as well as an uncountable number of orchestral works.
"Virtuosic and colorful” (The New York Times) Sun Li started playing pipa at the age of 9. In 1995 she was granted the “Excellence in Performance” award in the Beijing “Freedom Cup” International Chinese Traditional Instrument Competition. After graduation, Sun Li became a member of the Central Song and Dance Ensemble in Beijing. During her tenure she participated in concerts for the “4th World Conference on Women, 1995” and visited and performed in Japan with the ensemble in 1996. She took part in a “Welcoming Concert” for former US President Bill Clinton in Beijing in 1998. Since 2002, Sun Li has performed with Music from China, a New York-based Chinese music ensemble, at numerous educational and cultural institutions. Her recent appearances include the Princeton Symphony Orchestra; New Brunswick Symphony Orchestra; 2016 Solo Recital at Norton Museum of Art; 2017 Columbus Symphony Orchestra; 2019 National Folk Festival in Maryland; and the 2022 Staunton Music Festival.
Support for House Blend II is provided by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation
PS21 Open-Air Pavilion Theater
2980 New York 66 Chatham, New York 12037
PS21: Performance Spaces for the 21st Century
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Established in Chatham, NY in 2006, PS21 supports innovative performing artists and creators and introduces their work to a broader audience, while also providing the surrounding region with opportunities for arts engagement regardless of economic status, cultural background, and age.
Five acres of PS21's 100+ acres are developed; the rest are meadows and woodlands. Situated near the theater are the Dance Barn, a rehearsal and performance venue, and two artists’ residences accommodating sixteen individuals. The PS21 property is also host to the Chatham Farm Animal Rescue. PS21's new theater and rural campus are important resources for both visiting artists and the community, optimized for the public's enjoyment and to encourage citizen expression and participation.
The 350-seat theater is a state-of-the-art, green facility offering resident makers and performers the tools and flexibility for successful innovation and collaboration in the development of sophisticated multi-media work. Few other US facilities are able to provide this level of technical support. PS21 operates year-round, supporting performances by and residencies for dancers, choreographers, musicians, composers, actors and creators. The summer season is PS21's public highlight, during which a full calendar of performances is augmented with a myriad of events and workshops, many of which are free of charge and involve community collaboration with the gifted artists in residence.
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