Strings of the WHCO

3:00 pm, February 10, 2018

The Catalyst Quartet, Guest String Quartet
Chris Whittaker, Conductor

Led by music director Chris Whittaker, the strings of the WHCO come together to perform an afternoon filled with profoundly beautiful string music. The concert features work by Catalyst Quartet member Jessie Montgomery, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and Washington Heights resident Aaron Jay Kernis, as well as music by Edward Elgar and Arnold Schoenberg. Part of the Composers Now Festival.  Followed by a post-concert reception for Friends of the WHCO.

FREE! Young listeners welcome!

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Jessie Montgomery: Starburst
Aaron Jay Kernis: Musica Celestis
Edward Elgar: Introduction and Allegro (featuring the Catalyst Quartet)
Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4 (Transfigured Night)

Followed by a post-concert reception for Friends of WHCO

The Composers Now Festival empowers living composers, celebrates the diversity of their voices and honors the significance of their musical contributions to our society. During the month of February, the Festival brings together dozens of performances presented by venues, ensembles, orchestras, opera companies, dance companies and many other innovative events throughout New York City. Experience the sounds and get to know the creators behind the music. From jazz to indie, from classical to electronic and beyond, join us on a sonic journey through the landscape of the arts of our time. Composers will be in attendance at all events and will be interacting with audiences. Composers Now is a project partner of The Fund for the City of New York. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the ASCAP Foundation, the Cheswatyr Foundation, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, The Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund and the Newburgh Institute for the Arts and Ideas.

About the composers

Aaron Jay Kernis

Aaron Jay Kernis is winner of the coveted 2012 Nemmers Prize and 2002 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, and one of the youngest composers ever awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Since 2003 he has taught composition at the Yale School of Music, where he is Professor (Adjunct) of Composition.

Kernis’s music is featured prominently on orchestral, chamber, and recital programs worldwide, and he has been commissioned by many of America’s foremost performing artists, including sopranos Renée Fleming and Dawn Upshaw, violinists Joshua Bell and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and guitarist Sharon Isbin, and by institutions including the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Minnesota Orchestra, the Los Angeles and Saint Paul chamber orchestras, Walt Disney Company, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and Rose Center for Earth and Space at the Museum of Natural History in New York.

Kernis was awarded the Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Rome Prize, and he received Grammy nominations for Air and his Second Symphony. His music is widely available on CDs, including the labels Naxos, Decca, Koch, Dorian, Phoenix, Virgin Classics, New Albion, Cedille, Nonesuch, Arabesque, and Innova.

He served as new music adviser to the Minnesota Orchestra for ten years and as chairman and director of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute. In 2011 he was named to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


Jessie Montgomery

Jessie Montgomery is a New York native violinist, composer and music educator, performing regularly among New York’s classical and new music scenes.

She is currently a member of the highly acclaimed Catalyst Quartet, raved by the New York Times as “invariably energetic and finely burnished…playing with earthly vigor.” She was a co-founding member of PUBLIQuartet, an ensemble made up of composers and arrangers, featuring their own music as well as that of emerging and established composers. She was also a member of the Providence String Quartet from 2004-2009, quartet in residence of Community MusicWorks. Ensemble experiences have lead to collaborations with The Orion String Quartet, The Miro String Quartet, and The Knights. Jessie has also collaborated with several avant-garde artists such as clarinetist Don Byron, Butch Morris and William Parker.

Recently, Jessie has been recognized as an important emerging composer by the American Composers Orchestra, the Sphinx Organization, the Joyce Foundation and the Sorel Organization through generous grants and fellowships that support and promote her works. For the 2015-16 season she will be the Composer-Educator for the Albany Symphony, leading youth education initiatives and performances of recent works. Her music is performed regularly by PUBLIQuartet, the Catalyst Quartet and the Sphinx Virtuosi. In 2012 she was appointed the Sphinx Virtuosi Composer-in-Residence. In 2011-2012, Jessie was the Van Lier Composer Fellow at the American Composers Orchestra, with performances of her works for small ensemble showcased throughout New York City in the SONiC Festival, and the Composers OutFront! Series. She was in Residence at the Deer Valley Music Festival under the direction of American composer Joan Tower in 2008 and has served as resident composer for the Providence String Quartet, with performances throughout the Providence and Boston areas.

About the Artists 

Catalyst Quartet

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Jessie Montgomery, Violin
Karla Donehew Perez, Violin
Paul Laraia, Viola
Karlos Rodriguez, Cello

Hailed by the New York Times at their Carnegie Hall debut as “invariably energetic and finely burnished… playing with earthy vigor”, the Catalyst Quartet, prize winners of the Gianni Bergamo Classical Music Award 2012 (Switzerland) is comprised of top laureates and alumni of the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Competition with the 2015 winner of the Seoul International Music Competition. Known for “rhythmic energy, polyphonic clarity and tight ensemble-playing”, the quartet has toured domestically and abroad including sold out performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, at Chicago’s Harris Theater, Miami’s New World Center, and Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall.  The Catalyst Quartet has held concert residencies at institutions such as the University of Washington, University of Michigan, Rice University, Houston’s Society for the Performing Arts, University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, and Pennsylvania State University. International residencies where they perform and give master classes have included The In Harmony Project in England, The University Of South Africa, And The Teatro de Bellas Artes in Colombia.

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Concert Location:

Fort Washington Collegiate Church
729 West 181st Street
New York, NY, 10033

The concert will last approximately 1.5 hours with intermission.