Daniel Pearl Harmony for Humanity

Sunday, October 4, 7:30pm PDT

This annual concert honors the life and memory of Stanford alumnus Daniel Pearl, the violin-playing Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered in 2002. This year’s concert, as part of Contemplation by Design, will feature music affirming the hope and harmony that characterized Daniel’s approach to bringing peoples and cultures of the world closer to one another.

This special Contemplation by Design event is a collaboration of Music at Stanford, CCRMA, Stanford Live, and the Office for Religious and Spiritual Life.

The program was curated by Jonathan Berger and comprises prerecorded works.


(click on the titles to see program notes and the artist's bio below)

Jonathan Berger: Eli Eli

The St Lawrence String Quartet

Christopher Chafe: The Metered Tide

Chris Chafe, celletto | Greg Niemeyer, video

Patricia Alessandrini: Omaggio a Berio

Claire Chase, flute | Wendy Richman, viola | Michael Nicolas, cello | Cory Smythe, piano | Nathan Davis, percussion

Giancarlo Aquilanti: Sonata for Two Clarinets and Piano, 2nd movement

Natalia Benedetti, clarinet | Guido Arbonelli, clarinet | Laura Magnani, piano

Constantin Basica: Chapter 31, Pages 415-926

Doyle Armbrust, viola | Clara Lyon, violin | Kevin McFarland, cello | Christopher Otto, violin | John Pickford Richards, viola | Russell Rolen, cello | Ari Streisfeld, violin | Austin Wulliman, violin

Vân-Ánh Võ: Infinity

Gary Hegedus | Jimi Nakagawa | Vân-Ánh Võ

Davor Branimir Vincze: Inflection Point

Ensemble Modern | Reinbert de Leeuw, conductor

Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (Aria, Variation 1, Variation 2)

The Costanza-Fong Family String Trio

Utku Asuroglu: Tirnak

JACK Quartet

Jonathan Berger: Infinite Receptors

Images by Enrico Riley | Livia Sohn, violin | The Banff Centre for the Arts Chamber Orchestra | Henk Guittart, conductor

Jonathan Berger: Eli Eli (2004)

Eli Eli is an adaptation of a setting of a poem by Hannah Senesh. This arrangement was written in memory of journalist Daniel Pearl for the first Harmony for Humanity concert.

Jonathan Berger teaches composition, computational music theory, and music cognition at Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). Berger was a Guggenheim Fellow (2018) and a winner of the Rome Prize (2017). His current commissions include The Ritual of Breath on the murder of Eric Garner, and Mekong which will premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.

Christopher Chafe: The Metered Tide (2019)

Greg Niemeyer suggests a location test for sonification music video. The site is Crissy Field, Golden Gate National Recreation Area at the upper tip of San Francisco next door to the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. The data set is 100 years of tidal records acquired by the gauge on the shore adjacent to where we record. Greg brings video / audio crew, I bring celletto, mobile phone and earbuds. We make 7 takes and depart. I then flew to British Columbia laptop in lap and worried "how will I ever do the post-production" of this completely fun but quick session while going onward with other projects. A"light bulb" idea happened on the plane (as sometimes does at altitude). I wrote a script while seat belted in place in which the audio mix is made automatically and follows the original tidal data. I sent the edit decision list to Greg and his video edits followed suit.

Chris Chafe is a composer, improvisor, and cellist, developing much of his music alongside computer-based research. He is Director of Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). In 2019, he was International Visiting Research Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies The University of British Columbia, Visiting Professor at the Politecnico di Torino, and Edgard-Varèse Guest Professor at the Technical University of Berlin. At IRCAM (Paris) and The Banff Centre (Alberta), he has pursued methods for digital synthesis, music performance and real-time internet collaboration. CCRMA's jacktrip project involves live concertizing with musicians the world over.

Patricia Alessandrini: Omaggio a Berio (2012)

Commissioned by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), 2012
Performance recorded live at the Museum of Contemporary Art | Chicago, IL, May 26, 2012
Documentation: Ross Karre

“The future of new music is theater music.” - Luciano Berio, 1981
Since Berio's death in 2003, I had wanted to write an homage to him. The opportunity presented itself when I was commissioned to write a piece for voice and ensemble for Tony Arnold and other faculty of the Soundscape festival in Maccagno (Italy). This first version, Black is the Colour (Omaggio à Berio) had this intention in parentheses, while the 2012 version, Omaggio à Berio, embraces this homage fully: in a sense, it completes the project of engaging with the material of the Folk Songs, Berio’s suite of arrangements of popular tunes.

One of the reasons that I almost always base my compositions on existing repertoire is the fact that the musical material itself is not important to me, but rather the act of composing from that material, which in my case becomes something like an interpretation or performance. Musical material - such as relative harmonic dissonance or consonance - may function as an easily recognizable sign of a given style, and this was certainly the case of the post-war avant garde, which often availed itself of a dissonant language descended loosely from the Second Viennese School. Composed in 1964, Berio’s Folk Songs serves as an example of a work that experiments with various idioms, including traditional, tonal and modal ones, and in a sense transcends style by doing so.

In the first version, Black is the Colour, I based the entire work on a descending line Berio had devised as a plaintive accompaniment in the harp in the first movement of the series. The entire work consisted of the efforts of the soprano, percussionist, and pianist to coax this melody from the piano in various indirect ways, as if it were a sort of harp which one did not quite know how to play. The staging of the work - with all three players hovering about and reaching into the piano - allowed for a mise en scène of two processes of the work: a dramatization of the efforts of obtaining various sounds - played notes and secondary resonances - from the instrument, as well as the process of the performers building the work themselves as we tried different techniques out over the course of our rehearsals during the festival. In the 2012 version, a meta-instrument extending beyond the piano includes string instruments and wind instruments, as well as a folk instrument, a dulcimer. While not all sound is produced in or into the piano in this version, it nonetheless retains the theatrical aspect of coaxing sound from the piano, which acts as a unifying element for the meta-instrument as well as a poetic one.

Patricia Alessandrini is a composer/sound artist creating compositions, installations, and performance situations which are often interactive and theatrical. Through these intermedial formats, she actively engages with the concert music repertoire, and issues of representation, interpretation, perception, and memory. Her works are often collaborative, and engage with social and political issues. She performs research on embodied interaction and immersive audiovisual experience, including instrument design for inclusive performance. Her works have been presented in the Americas, Asia, Australia, and over 15 European countries, in festivals such as Archipel, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Electric Spring, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Heidelberger Frühling, Gaudeamus, Mostly Mozart, Musica Strasbourg, Rainy Days, Salzburg Biennale, Sonorities, and Wien Modern. She is also a performer and improvisor of live electronics.

She was composer-in-residence at the 2010 soundSCAPE festival, and featured in ICELab with the International Contemporary Ensemble in 2012. She was awarded first prize in 2009 in the Sond’Arte Composition Competition for Chamber Music with Electronics, and a Förderpreis in Composition by the Darmstädter Ferienkurse in 2012. In 2015-6, she was featured as a composer, curator and educator in four concert and outreach events of the Ensemble InterContemporain, as part of the Sound Kitchen series at the Gaîté lyrique, a centre for digital arts in Paris.

She studied composition and electronics at the Conservatorio di Bologna, Conservatoire National de Strasbourg and IRCAM, and holds two PhDs, from Princeton University and the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) respectively. She has taught alto perfezionamento of Computer-Assisted Composition at the Scuola superiore of the Accademia Musicale Pescarese, Composition with Technology at Bangor University, as a Lecturer in Sonic Arts at Goldsmiths, University of London, and was appointed Assistant Professor of Composition at Stanford University in 2018, where she also performs research at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA).

Her works are published by Babelscores, and may also be consulted at patriciaalessandrini.com.

Giancarlo Aquilanti: Sonata for Two Clarinets and Piano, 2nd movement (2016)

Giancarlo Aquilanti was born in Jesi, a small town in central Italy, where he took his first musical steps. He studied at the Conservatory of Music in Pesaro, Italy, where he received degrees in Trumpet Performance, Choral Music, and Composition. In 1996 he received a DMA in Composition from Stanford University.

In his music one can hear the profound inspiration of the Italian operatic tradition born of early cultural experiences. Nevertheless, his compositions are much influenced by his American education, revealing a unique and exotic combination of popular melodies of his native region, jazz rhythms, and classical traditions. He is a prolific composer and has written compositions for all kinds of combinations of instruments: orchestral, choral, band, chamber music pieces, and 4 operas.

One of his ongoing projects is the collaboration with Bob Weir and the Grateful Dead for the orchestration of their songs.

Constantin Basica: Chapter 31, Pages 415-926 (2016)

Performed by the JACK Quartet and the Spektral Quartet at Stanford University on April 2, 2016.

Chapter 31, Pages 415-926 is a piece for string octet and video, which was inspired by the shape of a circle and the concept of infinity. It is said that the number known as Pi, which is believed to have an infinite non-repeating number of digits, could include all possible combinations of numbers, and that one could find all the history of the Universe in it. For example, looking through the infinite digits and converting numbers to ASCII text or bitmap information, one could find all the text ever written and all the images that ever existed. For this piece, specific series from Pi’s digits were extracted and filtered algorithmically in Max (Cycling '74), then applied in MaxScore to a series of one hundred chords devised by the composer in order to generate musical material. The same digits were used to determine the length of each video clip.

All the video material was shot in Northern California by the composer and represents a diversity of banal imagery. This reinforces the idea of Pi possibly encompassing the representation of everything in the Universe, even things or events that are usually overlooked, because they are in-between more important things or events.

Constantin Basica is a Romanian composer living in the San Francisco Bay Area, whose current work focuses on symbiotic interrelations between music, video, and performers. His portfolio includes pieces for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, orchestra, electronics, and video. His works have been performed in Europe, North America, and Asia by artists such as Ensemble Dal Niente, Ensemble Liminar, ELISION Ensemble, Distractfold, Mocrep, JACK Quartet, Spektral Quartet, kallisti, RAGE Thormbones, line upon line, Retro Disco, Fresh Squeezed Opera, Séverine Ballon, Tony Arnold, Olga Berar, and Karen Bentley Pollick. Among the festivals and conferences that have featured his works are the MATA Festival (NY, US), Currents New Media Festival (NM, US), Aveiro Síntese Biennale for Electroacoustic Music (PT), International Festival for Video Art and Visual Music in Mexico City (MX), International Week of New Music (RO), InnerSound New Arts Festival (RO), Blurred Edges Festival in Hamburg (DE), next_generation Festival at ZKM in Karlsruhe (DE), Eureka! Musical Minds of California (CA, US), 2018 and 2017 International Computer Music Conference (KR and CN) and the 2016 Sound and Music Computing Conference (DE). His opera Knot an Opera! was premiered at UCSD (CA) and Stanford (CA) in 2016, then staged a second time in 2018 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center (NY, US). He received the ICMA Award for Best Submission from Europe at the 2017 ICMC in Shanghai (CN).

Constantin earned a DMA in Composition at Stanford University under the guidance of Jaroslaw Kapuscinski, Brian Ferneyhough, Mark Applebaum, and Erik Ulman. He holds an MA degree in Multimedia Composition from the Hamburg University of Music and Theatre (DE), and two BA degrees in Composition and Conducting from the National University of Music Bucharest (RO).

Currently, Constantin is a postdoctoral scholar and the concert coordinator at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA).

Vân-Ánh Võ: Infinity

Arranged for bass đàn Tranh, tar Hu, and taiko drum by Vân-Ánh Võ

Incorporating new sounds in music and creating symbols through the sounds of instruments are my passion. Building towards my musical path, this piece represents the power of music to explore and strengthen cultural understanding across borders while pushing the boundaries of tradition.

Infinity demonstrates my passion for cross-cultural composition and collaboration. In this piece, I play the bass dan tranh using both Vietnamese and new modal scales to bridge and celebrate the differences between Vietnamese and Middle Eastern tonalities. Infinity is my first composition in collaboration with a new member of my Blood Moon Orchestra, Gary Hegedus, a multi-instrumentalist with sounds from Turkey, Greece, and Hungary. This is a live recording with Blood Moon Orchestra at Eastside Arts Alliances in Oakland 2017.

Vân-Ánh Võ began studying the đàn tranh from the age of four. She graduated with distinction from Vietnam National Academy of Music and won the Championship Title at the National Đàn Tranh Competition in 1995, and presented her music at small community venues to Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, NPR, Lincoln Center, the Olympic Games 2012 Music Festival, and has toured over 25 countries. Since settling in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2001, Võ has focused on collaborating with musicians across different music genres to create new works, bringing Vietnamese traditional music to a wider audience, and preserving her cultural legacy through teaching. She was co-composer for the Oscar® nominated and Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner for Best Documentary, Daughter from Danang and the Emmy® Award-winning film and soundtrack for Bolinao 52. Her latest CD, Three-Mountain Pass was selected as one of NPR's Best 10 World Music CDs of 2013. For more information, please visit www.vananhvo.com.

Davor Branimir Vincze: Inflection Point (2015)

Visuals by: Linda Weinmann & Nicolás Pablo Grone
Introduction by: Peter Osborn
Mixing & Sound: Hans Leitner

Inflection Point is described as a point on the curve at which the curve changes from concave to convex or vice versa. In this piece it was used as a symbol of any tipping point in life. A moment that holds some key decision that, depending on how that particular event turns out, might go right or might go wrong.

Musically this was expressed by creating a harmonically stable state, which was thereafter brought out of the balance and made to exploded into a climax, only to recede slowly back to the initial state. The electronics were added at the inflection point to emphasize the clarity of that moment of change. Visually all was filmed in a small tray containing ferromagnetic fluids, iron dust and other colloid fluids. These were then shaken, put on loudspeakers playing the same music back and moved in many other ways in order to create shapes and forms you see in the video. The change from white on black surface to black on white surface was the visual queue that underpinned the tipping point.

Davor Branimir Vincze is a versatile, internationally active composer, recently awarded as The Best Croatian Contemporary Composer in 2020. Born in Zagreb, Davor obtained his degrees in composition in Graz and Stuttgart, after which he finished practical training in electronic composition at Ircam in Paris. His pieces have been performed by ensembles such as Jack Quartet, Talea, Ensembles Modern, Recherche, Intercontemporain, Klangforum Wien, and many others, in concerts and festivals such as Impuls, Présences, MATA, Manifeste, Biennale Zagreb, etc. In 2014 he has started Novalis festival for contemporary music in Croatia. Currently he lives in the US, where he is finishing his PhD in composition with Brian Ferneyhough and Patricia Alessandrini at Stanford University. His works are published by Maison ONA in Paris.

Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (Aria, Variation 1, Variation 2)

arranged for string trio by Dmitry Sitkovetsky

Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations, is one of the few works published in the composer’s lifetime (in 1741) and is considered as one of the most important examples of the art of variation. The title page of the first edition has the following statement (in German): Keyboard exercise, consisting of an Aria with diverse variations for harpsichord with two manuals. Composed for connoisseurs, for the refreshment of their spirits, by Johann Sebastian Bach, composer for the royal court of Poland and the Electoral court of Saxony, Kappelmeister and Director of Choral Music in Leipzig. Nuremberg, Balthasar Schmid, publisher.

The Costanza-Fong Family String Trio

Violinist Debra Fong has been a Lecturer in Violin and Chamber Music at Stanford University since 2004. She is also a faculty member for Young Chamber Musicians, coaching and mentoring elite-level high school chamber musicians, and she serves as a judge for several annual young artist concerto competitions and maintains a private violin studio in Palo Alto. Debra is a frequent performer and is Concertmaster of the Peninsula Symphony, Associate Concertmaster of San José Chamber Orchestra, and Principal Second Violinist of San Francisco Chamber Orchestra. Debra spends her summers as a first violinist with the Grammy Award-winning Santa Fe Opera Orchestra.

Isabella Costanza, violist, is an Artist Diploma candidate at the Glenn Gould School (GGS) of the Royal Conservatory in Toronto. She is a recipient of GGS's Temerty Scholarship award and studies viola with Steven Dann. Isabella received her Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance from New England Conservatory in Boston, with a minor in Music Theory. In 2019- 2020, she was named a Chamber Music Fellow for the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society in Washington, DC, where she performed on the Smithsonian's 1695 Axelrod Stradivari viola.

For three decades, cellist Christopher Costanza has enjoyed an exciting and varied career as soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. A winner of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, he has performed to enthusiastic critical acclaim throughout the world. Christopher is the cellist of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, Ensemble in Residence at Stanford University. His discography includes chamber music and solo recordings on multiple labels. Christopher's extra-musical interests include long-distance running, creative vegan cooking, and railway architecture.

Utku Asuroglu: Tirnak

“There is a great deal of talking about music, and very little said to the purpose. My own belief is that words are inadequate to express it, and if it were otherwise I should end by leaving off composing music altogether. One constantly hears people complain that the meaning of music is indefinite, it leaves them in so much doubt as to the significance intended to be conveyed in it; and yet they imply that language is intelligible to everybody. With me itʼs exactly the opposite.”
Felix Mendelssohn to Marc-André Souchay

Utku Asuroglu received his musical studies from the Rotterdam Conservatory, Kunstuniversitat Graz, Hochschule für Musik Freiburg and is currently a doctoral candidate at Stanford University.

Jonathan Berger: Infinite Receptors

“There is a great deal of talking about music, and very little said to the purpose. My own belief is that words are inadequate to express it, and if it were otherwise I should end by leaving off composing music altogether. One constantly hears people complain that the meaning of music is indefinite, it leaves them in so much doubt as to the significance intended to be conveyed in it; and yet they imply that language is intelligible to everybody. With me itʼs exactly the opposite.”
Felix Mendelssohn to Marc-André Souchay

The images in Infinite Receptors comprise cartoon-like hands and feet, some bound by ropes, others threatened by gun barrels jutting into the picture. No faces are shown on the canvasses. The artist writes:

“The original impetus of the work was in response to many of the police shootings we all were viewing a few years ago. I found myself thinking about not only the sort of violence involved, but the historical relevance and antecedents to it, and also the conversation within the African American community—though I don’t say it’s the entire community, because it’s not monolithic—about the idea that these sorts of acts of violence didn’t end with emancipation. These kinds of things have happened throughout time. Seeing all of this information on the nightly news and put into the center of a national conversation, I found myself thinking about this more and more and it prompted a shift in my work.”

The music is the second movement of Jiyeh, Berger’s concerto for violin string orchestra, cimbalom, and percussion. The melody alludes to an Italian Sephardic version of the ‘ashamnu’, a collective admittance of guilt intoned on Yom Kippur.

Enrico and I collaborated on the video which was first shown in Rome on the night of the last US presidential inauguration as part of a protest against the administration.

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