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Chamber Music | For John Cage – Exploring Decibels and Duration

December 6, 2012
6:00 PM

Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, California 90024
Violinist/violist Mark Menzies and pianist Richard Valitutto will present a program of duos primarily focused on Morton Feldman’s masterful dedication-piece to this year’s centennial composer, John Cage.  This 80-minute duo for violin and piano explores (like his other works from this period) asymmetrical structures of beautifully enigmatic, soft sonorities which activate the listener’s perception of memory and expectation.  The program will open with some tasty hors d’oeuvres for violin or viola and piano by Webern, Cage, Feldman, and a new work by Richard Valitutto – all to whet the appetite for Feldman’s phenomenal sonic feast.

Described by the LA Times as “vigorously virtuosic” and “building vast cathedrals of sound,” Richard Valitutto is active in Los Angeles as a piano soloist, chamber musician, accompanist, teacher, composer/arranger, and writer. A strong proponent of new music, he has worked with composers such as Sofia Gubaidulina, Steve Reich, Chinary Ung, Clarence Barlow, Marc Sabat, and Timo Andres. Richard is a founding member of two chamber ensembles, gnarwhallaby and The Joshua Trio, in addition to his continuous work with the critically acclaimed wild Up Modern Music Collective. He holds degrees from CalArts (MFA) and the University of Cincinnati (BM).  More information at www.richardvalitutto.com.


Residing in the United States since 1991, Mark Menzies has established an important, world-wide reputation as a new music violist and violinist. He has been described in a Los Angeles Times review, as an ‘extraordinary musician’ and a ‘riveting violinist.’ His career as a viola and violin virtuoso, chamber musician and conductor and advocate of contemporary music, has seen performances in Europe, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and across the United States, including a series of appearances at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Mark Menzies is renowned for performing and more recently conducting some of the most complex scores so far written and he has been personally recommended by composers such as Brian Ferneyhough, Roger Reynolds, Michael Finnissy, Vinko Globokar, Philippe Manoury, Jim Gardner, Elliott Carter, Liza Lim, Christian Wolff, Richard Barrett and Sofia Gubaidulina for performances he has given of their music. An early success was performing at the Lutoslawksi Festival in London (1989) and subsequent highlights have included appearances at the Ojai Festival 2000, at the June in Buffalo 1996/9 and 2000 festivals, the Mirror of the New Festival in Hawai’i 1997, as featured guest soloist in the 09/03 International Festival (of new music) in Auckland, New Zealand, 2003, and the Dartington Festival in Great Britain, 2007 and 2008.

Mark Menzies has a considerable reputation as a chamber music performer. A member of the Formalist Quartet as violinist and violist, the first five seasons of the quartet has seen touring across the US, a number of recordings, including the world premiere recording of Art Jarvinen’s epic string quartet recorded at the Lou Harrison bale-house; the quartet has established a stellar reputation in its performances of both 16th and 17th ensemble music, as well as repertoire of the last hundred or so years.

Mark Menzies is currently viola and violin professor at the California Institute of the Arts where he also coordinates their chamber orchestra, new music ensembles and conducting studies. Over the last four seasons, he has designed and performed a significant role in CalArts New Century Players’ concerts at redcat, CalArt’s downtown theater as part of the Disney Hall complex: respectively these were “Friendly monsters from the boot” (featuring recent music from Italy, including the US premiere of Luigi Nono’s Guai e gelidi mostri); a Festival of contemporary Dutch music; the US premiere of Gerard Grisey’s Les espaces acoustique as part of a two-concert look at recent spectralism; and lastly, in 2011, a 5-concert festival of Sofia Gubaidulina’s music – in her presence – that, as one critic described the final concert, ‘…the building tension paid off with a huge reward in the closing full orchestra performance of Gubaidulina’s violin concerto Offertorium with soloist Mark Menzies and the full force of the CalArts Orchestra’.