tenebrous: JACK Quartet

JACK Quartet

February 7, 2020 | 7:30PM
Logan Center Performance Hall

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Georg Friedrich Haas: String Quartet No. 9

Post-concert talkback with Seth Brodsky

This concert will be performed in total darkness.

Though most can recall an experience they’ve had in the dark with little light to see by, few, upon closer reflection, have experienced true total darkness. It is an otherworldly experience, one that, over time, changes your perception. In his third and ninth string quartets, composer Georg Friedrich Haas takes full advantage of that, thrusting the audience (and performers) into can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face black. “[The sounds in the darkness] allow the ears to map a space that the eyes cannot see,” writes Alex Ross (New Yorker) of a performance of the third by the JACK Quartet. “What begins as an experience of deprivation becomes one of radically heightened awareness.”

In just a decade and a half, the maverick JACK Quartet has become “the nation’s most important quartet” (The New York Times), “the go-to quartet for contemporary music” (Washington Post), and “superheroes of the new music world” (Boston Globe). Comprising violinists Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Jay Campbell, the Quartet has as its mission to commission and perform new music and to give voice to under-heard composers. The music of the Austrian composer Haas has become a sort of specialty for the group, who have performed his third string quartet dozens of times and for whom his ninth was written, both to be played in total darkness. Known for building large-scale structures in his music and using the complete spectrum of over-tones, Haas takes full advantage of JACK’s skill with just intonation (the tuning system built on the overtone series) and uses radiant drones and microtonal melodies to create new sound worlds through the enhanced experience of the auditory landscape.

Following the JACK’s performance at 7:30 pm on February 7, music theorist and historian Seth Brodsky leads a talkback between the artists and audience about the unique experience of this one-of-a-kind performance.