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Classical Breakdown

6. The Abeo Quartet performs Moonshot

October 22, 2019

Alistair Coleman was inspired by paintings of On Kawara on display at the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, MD. The artwork is a series of "date paintings" that were created on the days of the Apollo 11 launch, moon landing, and return journey. In this episode, the Abeo Quartet performs this new work by Coleman, Moonshot, commissioned by the Glenstone Museum. After the performance we talk about how the quartet put this piece together, new performance techniques required, and who would dare to go to space. 

Show Notes

The inspiration 

You probably remember Alistair Coleman from episode #1, Alistair Coleman on writing music, where he shared the writing process of composers in the past and his own process. Inspired by the artwork of On Kawara on display at the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, MD, he wrote this piece called Moonshot, and it was commissioned by the Glenstone Museum. 

On Kawara Moon Landing triptych

The entrance to the room with On Kawara's Moon Landing triptych. To see the full triptych click here.

extended techniques and improvisation

An example of distortion in a musical score

As James talks about in the episode, there are some extended techniques in the music that require musicians to make non-traditional sounds. 

The first page of the score for Moonshot for String Quartet, by Alistair Coleman.

One of Njioma's favorite moments is the improvisational opening, which was something new for the quartet. 

about the abeo quartet

The Abeo Quartet, silver medal winner of the 2019 Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition, has been featured in New York at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Alice Tuilly Hall and on WQXR’s Midday Masterpieces. The quartet also won the Judges Special Recognition Award at the 2019 Plowman Chamber Music Competition. Abeo, formed at Juilliard, has been invited to perform at the Kennedy Center’s Reach Festival, The Glenstone Museum in Potomac and in Norway’s Vertavo Festival where they will perform seven works by Haydn.

The quartet won a Montreal International String Quartet Academy fellowship, studying with members of the Alban Berg Quartet, Quatuor Ebene, Takács String Quartet and the Artemis Quartet. Abeo also has had coachings with pianist Joseph Kalichstein and the Calidore String Quartet. Formed in 2018 at the Juilliard School, the Abeo Quartet has studied under the tutelage of Joseph Lin and Astrid Schween as part of the Juillard Honors Chamber Music Program.

When they were first-year Juilliard students, Ludvig, Njioma, James, and Drew immediately recognized and discovered their natural chemistry as well as each other’s passion for chamber music when they began sight reading together. The quartet chose the name Abeo / ah - bey - oh /, representing an expression of joy in a Nigerian dialect, to reflect their love for playing chamber music and sharing it with others.