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MODfest 2021

MODFEST 2021: RADICAL IMAGINATION January 28-February 7

February 6, 2021 @7:00 PM: Honorary Adene and Richard Wilson Concert with the Attacca Quartet

February 6, 2021--7:00 PM--Q&A to follow.  Sponsored by the Department of Music and CAAD.

A brief history of MODfest

Recorded at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House on January 29, 2021.  (Directions) The Grammy award-winning Attacca Quartet will perform

Flying Lotus (b. 1983)

Three Song Suite   Arranged by Nathan Schram   

Chris Rogerson (b. 1988)

String Quartet No. 3    

Caroline Shaw (b. 1982)

Three Essays      



Flying Lotus


Experimental electronic music producer Flying Lotus, born Steven Ellison, is a grandson of songwriter Marilyn McLeod (the co-writer of Diana Ross' "Love Hangover"), as well as a great-nephew of pianist Alice Coltrane, and therefore a cousin of saxophonist Ravi Coltrane. Ellison made beats for the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim network before releasing his debut full-length, 1983, which resembled the work of fellow avant-garde hip-hop producers MadlibJ Dilla, and Ammoncontact on Plug Research in 2006. Following the six-song EP Reset, he released his second full-length, Los Angeles, on Warp in 2008. A three-part series of satellite EPs consisting of remixes and additional productions trailed through the next year. Cosmogramma, his third and most complex album, was issued on the same label in 2010, while the relatively pared-down Until the Quiet Comes followed in 2012. His additional production and remix work is scattered across dozens of releases on revered labels such as Tectonic, Hyperdub, Ghostly International, and Ninja Tune -- the last of which is the distributor of his Brainfeeder label, home to the likes of the Gaslamp KillerAustin Peralta, Martyn, and Thundercat.
Marisa Brown
Source: Accessed 1/11/21. 

Flying Lotus breaks down his song "More" 

Listen: Recording of music by Flying Lotus (Vassar Subscription only)

Chris Rogerson

Chris Rogerson, composer Composer Chris Rogerson has been hailed as a “confident, fully-grown composing talent” (The Washington Chris RogersonPost) whose music has “virtuosic exuberance” and “haunting beauty” (The New York Times). He has received commissions and performances from orchestras including the San Francisco Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, and Houston Symphony. As the 2010-12 Young Concert Artists Composer-in-Residence, two of his works premiered in the YCA Series in New York at Merkin Concert Hall and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. He served as Composer-in-Residence and Artistic Advisor at the Amarillo Symphony from 2014-1017, where the Symphony premiered his orchestral work “Dolos Sielut as well as his clarinet concerto “Four Autumn Landscapes” with soloist Anthony McGill. Mr. Rogerson’s music has also been performed by the VERGE ensemble, the Prism Saxophone Quartet, Third Angle New Music Ensemble, the Norfolk Contemporary Ensemble, and the New York Youth Symphony at Carnegie Hall. He has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and Copland House, and was a Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, where he won the Jacob Druckman Award. Recipient of the 2012 Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Mr. Rogerson has also won BMI Student Composer Awards, the New York Art Ensemble Composition Competition, the Presser Music Award, the ASCAP’s Morton Gould Young Composer Award, and prizes from the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts and the National Association for Music Education. He is a co-founder and Artistic Director of Kettle Corn New Music, a concert series held at the DiMenna Center in New York City. Born in Amherst, NY, Mr. Rogerson started playing the piano at the age of two and the cello at eight. He studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he currently serves on the Musical Studies Faculty, the Yale School of Music, and Princeton University with Jennifer Higdon, Aaron Jay Kernis, Martin Bresnick, and Steve Mackey. Mr. Rogerson has participated in composition master classes with John Corigliano, Osvaldo Golijov, Michael Tilson Thomas, William Bolcom, Krystof Penderecki, and Christopher Theofanidis. Source: Accessed 1/7/21. 



Commissioned by Chamber Music America with generous funding provided by the Mellon Foundation

While traveling in Algeria, my host, Rostom invited a few of his friends who lived nearby in Beni Isguen, the gateway to the vast Sahara. At one point, one of his friends said to me almost casually, “You are lucky to travel. We are prisoners here. We can’t go anywhere.” This was a striking and sobering moment and a reminder that many, many people around the world either do not have the means or are simply unable to leave their country of birth even if they desperately wanted to. Rostom and his friends proceeded to describe in detail for me the perils of leaving Algeria for Europe—how difficult the crossing of the Mediterranean is, and so on. The first movement has a nervous energy. The second movement is a short lullaby: perhaps hope that those who want a new place to live may find a peaceful place to sleep. Finally, after a short dream-like intermezzo, the last movement, Prisoners, is a simple but stern movement, and often the voices in the quartet struggle to break free from one another.

Premiered by the Attacca Quartet in September 2019 

Source: Accessed 1/8/21.


Listen: Recordings of music by Chris Rogerson  (Vassar subscription only)


 String Quartet No 4:

Caroline Shaw

Image result for caroline shaw"The most ‘idiomatic composer’ for string quartet since Bartók."  The Washington Post 1/14/19  
Caroline Shaw. (b Greenville, NC, 1982). American composer, violinist, and vocalist . She received degrees from Rice University (BMus, Golliard fellowship, 2004) and Yale University (MMus, Yale Baroque Ensemble fellowship, 2007), and became a doctoral fellow at Princeton University in 2010. Her piece Partita for Eight Voices won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2013, making her the youngest-ever recipient of the award. The première of Partita was performed by the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth (Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble performance, 2014), with whom she regularly performs. As a violinist, she performs with American contemporary music ensemble (ACME). Though her works have been widely performed, she considers herself a performer first and composer second (New York Times, 2014).
Partita for Eight Voices is a 26-minute work in four movements, which received their premières individually between 2009 and 2011 at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art; the work was first performed in full at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City on 2 November 2013. Though each movement is named after a Baroque dance genre (Allemande, Sarabande, Courante, and Passacaglia), the music itself is a mixture of tonal-leaning phrases mixed with sound effects that run the gamut of vocal capacity. The piece is notated on the staff, the unpitched sections written on a single line à la percussion notation. Other notable compositions are Boris Kremer, written for the duo New Morse Code and scored for cello and flower pots, and Entr’acte, written for the Brentano Quartet. Source: Wilhoite, Meg. "Shaw, Caroline." Grove Music Online. 28 May. 2015; Accessed 1/7/21.



I fell in love with playing string quartets when I was about 10, and it’s been a love and obsession ever since. It’s an amazing way to converse musically with others, and you can really get a sense of someone’s personality through reading a quartet with them for the first time. I keep coming back to string quartets – despite the vast sonic possibilities now in the 21st century – because of the compactness and efficiency of it, and for the dialogue one can have with past quartet repertoire, both the hits and the hidden gems. One of the joys of writing is designing, destroying, and solving the puzzles of the language. It sometimes feels like designing my own game environment and then solving the problems that crop up.

The First Essay (“Nimrod”) began as a simple exercise in translating the lilt and rhythm of one of my favorite authors, Marilynne Robinson, into music. She writes beautifully and bravely on notions of the human soul, weaving delicately in and out various subjects (politics, religion, science) in each of her rich, methodical essays. Usually, my music is inspired by visual art, or food, or some odd physics quirk, but this time I wanted to lunge into language, with all its complex splintering and welding of units and patterns! The piece begins with a gentle lilt, like Robinson herself speaking, but soon begins to fray as the familiar harmony unravels into tumbling fragments and unexpected repetitive tunnels. These musical trap doors lead to various worlds that are built from the materials of the beginning, like the odd way dreams can transform one thing into another. I started writing these three “essays” while listening to the calm optimism of an audio recording of Marilynne Robinson reading from her book The Givenness of Things, but I completed it during the turmoil of the 2016 US Presidential election. The title of the first essay refers to the legendary biblical figure Nimrod, who oversaw the construction of the Tower of Babel – a city designed to be tall enough to reach heaven but which resulted in the confusion and scattering of language. This image of chaos and fragmentation, but also of extraordinary creative energy, may serve as a framework for listening to these three musical essays. The Second Essay (“Echo”), is a stylistic contrast to the first and third, in the spirit of a typical ‘slow movement’ nested between two quick ones. The title touches on a number of references: the concept of the ‘echo chamber’ that social media fosters in our political discourse; the ‘echo’ function in the Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) programming language; and of course the effect of an echo. The Third Essay (“Ruby”), returns to the fragmentation and angularity that was introduced in the first essay but attempts to tame it into some kind of logical structure. The title refers both to the programming language Ruby (developed in Japan in the mid-1990s) as well the simple beauty of the gem stone for which the language was named. It’s more a point of inspiration than a strict system of generating material.

Source: Accessed 1/8/21.


Recordings by Caroline Shaw (Vassar subscription only)

Caroline Shaw: OrangeSHAW, C.: Entr'acte / Plan and Elevation / Valencia (Orange) (Attacca Quartet) (Vassar subscription only)





"It's Shaw the singer and composer who shines in this video," NPR Music's Tom Huizenga says of the "And So" performance. "Shaw is backed by the Attacca Quartet, which plays without vibrato and finds vast coloration in the composer's evocative approach to pizzicato ... Shaw's voice, at turns ferocious and tender, emits a purity of purpose."  Source: Accessed 1/7/21



What are you after, after all this time? Interview with Caroline Shaw. Matthew Neil Andrews. August 20, 2019. Source: Accessed 1/8/21.


Attacca Quartet


San Francisco Performances: Anthony Roth Costanzo, Attacca Quartet, Timo Andres“We’re living in a golden age of string quartets...It’s hard to disagree when you hear the vibrant young players in New York’s Attacca Quartet.”— NPR
“They may be a relatively young ensemble, but already they come very close to epitomizing the string quartet ideal...Mastery like this is scarce enough in quartets that have played together for decades.”— The Washington Post     
Grammy award-winning Attacca Quartet, as described by The Nation, “lives in the present aesthetically, without rejecting the virtues of the musical past”, and it is this dexterity to glide from the music of the 18th through to the 21st century repertoire that place them as one of the most versatile and outstanding ensembles of the moment – a quartet for modern times.
Touring extensively in the United States, recent and upcoming highlights include Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concerts, New York Philharmonic’s Nightcap series, Lincoln Center’s White Lights Festival and Miller Theatre, both with Caroline Shaw, Phillips Collection, Chamber Music Austin, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and Trinity Church at Wall Street where they will perform the complete cycle of the Beethoven String Quartets. Attacca Quartet has also served as Juilliard's Graduate Resident String Quartet, the Quartet in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Ensemble-in-Residence at the School of Music at Texas State University. Outside of the US, recent performances include Gothenburg Konserthuset, MITO Septembre Festival in Italy, and their debut in London at Kings Place and in Oslo at the Vertravo Haydn Festival. As well as their recent tour in Central and South America, they will return to Europe for a tour of ten concerts around Sweden as well as taking part in the Prague String Festival and September Me Festival in the Netherlands.
Passionate advocates of contemporary repertoire, their latest recording, Orange, features string quartet works by Pulitzer-prize winning composer Caroline Shaw. Greatly received by the critics, Attacca Quartet won the 2020 Grammy award in the category “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance” in recognition for their work on this album. Previous recordings include three critically acclaimed albums with Azica Records, including a disc of Michael Ippolito’s string quartets, and the complete works for string quartet by John Adams.


New York based violinist and pedagogue Amy Schroeder is a founding member of the GRAMMY award winning Attacca Quartet and has been hailed by the Washington Post as ‘an impressive artist whose playing combines imagination and virtuosity.’ She has soloed with orchestras including the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Amherst Symphony, the Clarence Symphony, the Hilton Head Symphony, and the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra.  As a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Attacca Quartet, Ms. Schroeder has soloed with the Spanish National Orchestra with composer John Adams conducting, and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra with Marin Alsop conducting. Since its inception the Attacca Quartet has won an array of awards including the grand prize in the Osaka International String Quartet Competition, the National Federation of Music Clubs Centennial Chamber Music Award, the Arthur Foote Award from the Harvard Musical Association, and the Lotos Prize in the Arts from the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation. The quartet has also held prestigious residencies including one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and currently at Texas State University in San Marcos.  With the Attacca Quartet Ms. Schroeder can be heard on several critically acclaimed recordings produced by Azica Records: “Fellow Traveler” the complete works of John Adams, Haydn: “Seven Last Words,”  “Songlines,” works of Michael Ippolito, and most recently on Nonesuch/New Amsterdam Records the GRAMMY award winning album, Shaw/Attacca Quartet 'Orange.' In 2016 the Quartet completed a six year project in which they performed all 68 of Haydn’s String Quartets. Ms. Schroeder is proud to serve as music faculty member at Vassar College.  In New York Ms. Schroeder teaches violin and piano to students of all ages, and in her spare time she enjoys composing, traveling with her husband, and scuba diving.


Violinist Domenic Salerni is active as a chamber musician, composer and arranger, and freelance musician. As the newest member of the Grammy Award-winning Attacca Quartet, he looks forward to a full season of international concerts and tours ranging from Japan to Germany England to Brazil, including performances of the full cycle of Beethoven String Quartets at Trinity Church Wall Street in June. Domenic will be joining the Chiarina Chamber Players again this season for their Beethoven celebration, performing six of the major Piano Trios with pianist Efi Hackmey and cellist Carrie Bean Stute. Domenic is also pleased to join the PostClassical Ensemble for a number of concerts, as well as the Baltimore Symphony for their performance of Mahler’s Third Symphony. 

From 2016-2020 Domenic was the first violinist of the Dalí Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at West Chester University and recipient of the Atlanta Symphony’s Aspire Award. In 2016, as a member of Foundry, he was a laureate of the first inaugural M Prize at the University of Michigan. Prior to his tenure with Dalí, he was first violinist of the Vega Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at Emory University, from 2010-2016, where he received ArtsATL’s “30 Under 30” award. In 2010, Domenic composed the film score to Giuseppe de Liguorno’s “Dante’s Inferno” (1911). It was premiered at the Yale Dante Symposium that year with Samuel Carl Adams on bass, and was given its second performance at Emory University through a collaboration between the Department of Italian and French, the Center for Creative Studies, and the Department of Film, with Adam Bernstein on bass. 

Domenic  holds degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he graduated with academic honors, and the Yale University School of Music, where he was the recipient of the Yale Chamber Music Society Award. Domenic started violin at the age of three in the Suzuki Method with Linda Fiore. Previous teachers include Linda Cerone, Naoko Tanaka, Diane Monroe, Lee Snyder, Geoffrey Michaels, and William Preucil. He can be found on the Delos, Naxos, Artek, Canary, Innova, and DoMilo labels.

More information can be found on, and


Hailed by the New York Times as an “elegant soloist” with a sound “devotional with its liquid intensity,” Nathan is a composer, entrepreneur, and violist of the Attacca Quartet. Nathan has collaborated with many of the great artists of today including Björk, Itzhak Perlman, Sting, David Crosby, Becca Stevens, David Byrne, Trey Anastasio, Joshua Bell, Simon Rattle, and others. He has premiered music by Steve Reich, Nico Muhly, Timo Andres, Elliot Cole and Gabriel Kahane. Nathan is also a violist in the Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall, Decoda and an Honorary Ambassador to the city of Chuncheon, South Korea.

Apart from performing, Nathan is the Founder and Executive Director of Musicambia. Founded in 2013, Musicambia brings music learning and ensemble performance to prisons throughout the United States. Through working closely with incarcerated individuals on performance, music theory, ear training and composition, Musicambia’s professional musicians build artistic communities that nurture the humanity of all involved. Musicambia currently runs a music conservatory in Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York with other programs in Indiana and South Carolina. In addition to their work in the U.S., Musicambia has collaborated with projects in Venezuela and Scotland.

Schram studied viola at Indiana University with Alan de Veritch and at the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía in Madrid, Spain with Diemut Poppen and Yuval Gotlibovich. Afterwards, as an Ensemble Connect Fellow, he was documented by radio journalist Jeff Lunden for a 2-year, four-part series for NPR’s Weekend Edition.


Cellist Andrew Yee has been praised by Michael Kennedy of the London Telegraph as “spellbindingly virtuosic”. Trained at the Juilliard School, they are a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Attacca Quartet who have released several albums to Critical acclaim including Andrew’s arrangement of Haydn’s “Seven Last Words” which praised as “ . . .easily the most satisfying string version of the work that I’ve heard.” They were the quartet-in-residence at the Met Museum in 2014, and have won the Osaka and Coleman international string quartet competitions. Their newest recording of the string quartets of Caroline Shaw won a GRAMMY for best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble performance.

As a soloist last season Andrew performed John Taverner’s The Protecting Veil and Strauss Don Quixote. In 2019 they won the first prize at Oklahoma University’s National Arts Incubation Lab for their pitch of a wearable garment that translates sound into vibrations for the hard of hearing. They like making stop-motion videos of food, drawing apples, cook like an Italian Grandma and has developed coffee and cocktail programs for award-winning restaurants (Lilia, Risbobk, Atla) in New York City.

Their solo project “Halfie” draws on their experience as a bi-racial and non-binary person, having access to multiple communities at once, while not feeling at home in any of them. The works commissioned and on the concerts will feature a wide range of composers all for solo cello.

They play on an 1884 Eugenio Degani cello on loan fro the Five Partners Foundation.

Source: Accessed 1/8/21.