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Program for 3rd Annual Pacific Pythagorean Music Festival

Saturday, March 12, 2022 at 7 pm

download a copy of this program here.

Modes of Change
Third Annual Pacific Pythagorean Music Festival


6:30PM Pre-Concert Talk with Reza Vali regarding Gavesht & his Argho Tuning Software

Set 1: Vân-Ánh Võ, traditional Vietnamese instruments

Set 2: Ken Ueno & Viola Yip, vocals & sound art

Set 3: Ratio Justice
Hafez Modirzadeh & Keshav Batish, saxophone & instruments

Set 4: Del Sol Quartet
Benjamin Kreith, violin; Samuel Weiser, violin
Charlton Lee, viola; Kathryn Bates, cello

Maddie Ashman
Gravitation World Premiere

Reza Vali
Gavesht, String Quartet No. 5 World Premiere

This concert is a program of the Del Sol Performing Arts Organization, and funded in part by a grant from Grants for the Arts. DSPAO is supported in part by New Music USA’s New Music Organizational Development Fund, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the Amphion Foundation, and the Ditson Fund.

About the musicians

A fearless musical explorer, Vân-Ánh Võ is an award-winning performer of the 16-string đàn tranh (zither) and an Emmy Award-winning composer who has collaborated with Kronos Quartet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and Yo-Yo Ma. In addition to her mastery of the đàn tranh, she also uses the monochord (đàn bầu), bamboo xylophone (đàn t’rung), traditional drums (trống) and many other instruments to create music that blends the wonderfully unique sounds of Vietnamese instruments with other genres, and fuses deeply rooted Vietnamese musical traditions with fresh new structures and compositions.

Coming from a family of musicians and beginning to study đàn tranh (16-string zither) from the age of four, Van-Anh graduated with distinction from the Vietnamese Academy of Music, where she later taught. In 1995, Vân-Ánh won the championship title in the Vietnam National Đàn Tranh Competition, along with the first prize for best solo performance of modern folk music. In Hanoi, Vân-Ánh was an ensemble member of Vietnam National Music Theatre as well as a member of the traditional music group Đồng Nội Ensemble, which she founded and directed. She has since performed in more than fourteen countries and recorded many broadcast programs in and outside of Vietnam.

Since settling in San Francisco’s Bay Area in 2001, Vân-Ánh has collaborated with musicians across different music genres to create new works, bringing Vietnamese traditional music to a wider audience. She has presented her music at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center (2012, 2014, 2016), Lincoln Center, NPR, Houston Grand Opera, Yerba Buena Performing Arts Center, UK WOMAD Festival, and London Olympic Games 2012 Music Festival. Vân-Ánh has been a composer, collaborator and guest soloist with Kronos Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Southwest Chamber Music, Oakland Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Golden State Symphony, Apollo Chamber Players, Flyaway Productions for aerial dance works, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, jazz and rap artists, and other World Music artists. Additionally, she co-composed and arranged the Oscar® nominated and Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner for Best Documentary, Daughter from Danang (2002), the Emmy® Award winning film and soundtrack for Bolinao 52 (2008), and “Best Documentary” and “Audience Favorite” winner, A Village Called Versailles (2009).

A recipient of the Rome Prize and the Berlin Prize, Ken Ueno (b.1970), is a composer/vocalist/sound artist who is currently a Professor at UC Berkeley, where he holds the Jerry and Evelyn Hemmings Chambers Distinguished Professor Chair in Music. Ensembles and performers who have played Ken’s music include Kim Kashkashian and Robyn Schulkowsky, Mayumi Miyata, Teodoro Anzellotti, Aki Takahashi, Wendy Richman, Greg Oakes, BMOP, Alarm Will Sound, Steve Schick and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Nieuw Ensemble, and Frances-Marie Uitti. His music has been performed at such venues as Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MusikTriennale Köln Festival, the Muziekgebouw, Ars Musica, Warsaw Autumn, Other Minds, the Hopkins Center, Spoleto USA, Steim, and at the Norfolk Music Festival. Ken’s piece for the Hilliard Ensemble, Shiroi Ishi, was featured in their repertoire for over ten years, with performances at such venues as Queen Elizabeth Hall in England, the Vienna Konzerthaus, and was aired on Italian national radio, RAI 3. Another work, Pharmakon, was performed dozens of times nationally by Eighth Blackbird during their 2001-2003 seasons. A portrait concert of Ken’s was featured on MaerzMusik in Berlin in 2011. In 2012, he was a featured artist on Other Minds 17. In 2014, Frances-Mairie Uitti and the Boston Modern Orchestra premiered his concerto for two-bow cello and orchestra, and Guerilla Opera premiered a run of his chamber opera, Gallo, to critical acclaim. He has performed as soloist in his vocal concerto with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project in New York and Boston, the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Lithuanian National Symphony, the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, and with orchestras in North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and California. Ken holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University. A monograph CD of three orchestral concertos was released on the Bmop/sound label. His bio appears in The Grove Dictionary of American Music.

Viola Yip is an experimental composer, performer, improviser, sound artist and instrument builder from Hong Kong. She has been interested in creating new self-built instruments and sound works in the intersection of composition, performance, improvisation and sound art, exploring various relationships between media, materiality, space and our musical bodies in experimental music.

She recently receives an Honorary Mention from Giga Hertz Preis from ZKM (Center for Arts and Media) in Karlsruhe. She is also a recipient of Künstlerhaus Villa Waldberta (München) stipendium, Projektstipendien Junge Kunst /Neue Medien für Musik 2021 from the Rathaus München and INITIAL special grant from Akademie der Künste Berlin (Academy for the Arts Berlin).

Hafez Modirzadeh is a Professor of Music and co-director of the Jazz and World Music Studies. He has focused on integrative directions for the practice and education of jazz and world music. On both international and local fronts, he is active in the realms of performing, teaching, recording, publishing, and presenting cross-cultural perspectives regarding musical culture, tradition and innovation, and individual representations thereof.

Dr. Modirzadeh received an M.A. from UCLA (’86) and a PhD from Wesleyan (’92), both in ethnomusicology, and continues to develop an interdisciplinary musical approach he calls “Chromodal Discourse”. From Tehran to Brown Universities, Chromodal theory has been presented within both musical and scientific academic arenas, most recently acknowledged as a formal subject for the Doctorate of Musical Arts by the University of Madison, Wisconsin (Frey 2002). Modirzadeh‘s contributing research has been published in such journals as the Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology (1986), Horn Call (1995-96), Music in China (2000), Ethnomusicology (2001), and Black Music Research (2002).

Over the last three decades, his work on saxophones and a variety of other reeds has been documented on dozens of creative jazz and world LP/CD releases, listed in the Penguin Guide to Jazz, and in 1999, contributing to a Grammy nomination for Anthony Brown’s Asian American Orchestra. Modirzadeh has appeared from the Berlin to Monterey Jazz Festivals, and has performed with such artists as Omar Sosa, Don Cherry, Peter Apfelbaum, Steve Lacy, Fred Ho, Zakir Hussein, Oliver Lake, as well as many on the local San Francisco creative music scene.

Keshav Batish is a multi-instrumentalist composer, performer, and educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is trained in South Asian musics by his father, Pandit Ashwin Batish. An equally active music-maker in the jazz/creative-music idiom, Keshav draws inspiration from past masters and present mavericks to develop a voice that seeks to synthesize his musical and cultural identities. Notably, he has studied with Hafez Modirzadeh, Dave King, and Charles Tolliver. He recently received a Masters in Music Composition from the University of California, Santa Cruz. His debut album Binaries in Cycle has been met with critical acclaim in periodicals such as Downbeat and JazzTimes, attaining a position on KQED’s “Ten Best Albums of the Bay Area in 2021” list.

Maddie Ashman is a multi-instrumentalist based in Southeast London. Her compositional career kicked off in 2017, when Maddie became musical director of Slipshod Theatre, writing original music for sell-out production The Babushka. Since then, she has written and arranged music for three more 5* awarded plays with Slipshod, shown in Winchester, Camden and Edinburgh. Her interdisciplinary work has included writing for film, podcasts and art exhibitions. She recently scored two award winning short films for Piano Factory Films, with Mudlark nominated best UK short at Raindance Film Festival. Last year, Maddie was commissioned to write music for Alf Löhr’s art exhibition Der Sturm, shown at the Staatliches Museum, Schwerin.

Maddie is also a passionate songwriter. Her debut EP Don’t Come Back, came out in April 2020. She has reached over 40k streams with her songs, her style blending silky vocals, warm cello melodies and intricate rhythmic guitar patterns. Over the Spring UK Covid lockdown, Maddie challenged herself to write a new song every week led by cello, in the process racking up over 100,000 Instagram views. The most popular songs are to be released early next year in an EP, produced by Nathan Cox.

Recently, Maddie graduated from Goldsmiths University with a 1st class honours music degree, where she was awarded the Ivashkin Performance Scholarship. Her final university project focused on integrating alternative tuning systems, particularly just intonation, into popular media forms, such as film scores, songs and theatre, hoping to make the techniques more accessible. Maddie has continued to practice just intonation, studying with Michael Harrison, as well as Nico Muhly at Dartington School of Music.

This year, Maddie was selected as a Britten Pears Young Artist. Maddie is working on an immersive, meditative installation for Aldeburgh Festival 2022. She is workshopping a song cycle for microtonal guitar and multi-tracked voice, which aims to emancipate the natural commas that arise from just intonation. Aside from writing music, Maddie plays cello for Tom Rosenthal, and enjoys writing string parts for a number of emerging artists, such as Ciaran Austin, Harry Nye and Elise Aeserbold

Reza Vali was born in Ghazvin, Iran, in 1952. He began his music studies at the Conservatory of Music in Tehran. In 1972 he went to Austria and studied music education and composition at the Academy of Music in Vienna. After graduating from the Academy of Music, he moved to the United States and continued his studies at the University of Pittsburgh, receiving his Ph.D. in music theory and composition in 1985. Mr. Vali has been a faculty member of the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University since 1988. He has received numerous honors and commissions, including the honor prize of the Austrian Ministry of Arts and Sciences, two Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships, commissions from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Kronos Quartet, the Carpe Diem String Quartet, the Seattle Chamber Players, and the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, as well as grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Pittsburgh Foundation, and the Pittsburgh Board of Public Education. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust as the Outstanding Emerging Artist for which he received the Creative Achievement Award. Vali’s orchestral compositions have been performed in the United States by the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Baltimore Symphony, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra 2001. His chamber works have received performances by Cuarteto Latinoamericano, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Carpe Diem String Quartet, Kronos Quartet, the Seattle Chamber Players, and the Da Capo Chamber Players. His music has been performed in Europe, China, Chile, Mexico, Hong Kong, and Australia and is recorded on the Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos, New Albion, MMC, Ambassador, Albany, and ABC Classics labels.

Gavesht, String Quartet No. 5 was written for the Del Sol String Quartet and was completed in November 2020. The work is a tribute to the great 13th century Persian music theorist and musician Safialdin Ormavi. The composition consists of six short movements that are thematically interrelated. I have used some of Ormavi’s 13th century medieval modes and have interpolated these modes with some of the modes of the modern Persian modal system, the Dastgâh system.

Fascinated by the feedback loop between social change, technology, and artistic innovation, the San Francisco-based Del Sol Quartet is a leading force in 21st-century chamber music. They believe that live music can, and should, happen anywhere – whether introducing Ben Johnston’s microtonal Americana at the Library of Congress or in a canyon cave, taking Aeryn Santillan’s gun-violence memorial to the streets of the Mission District, or collaborating with Huang Ruo and the anonymous Chinese poets who carved their words into the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station.

Since 1992, Del Sol has commissioned or premiered thousands of works by composers including Terry Riley, Gabriela Lena Frank, Tania León, Frederic Rzewski, Vijay Iyer, Mason Bates, Michael Harrison, Huang Ruo, Pamela Z, Chinary Ung, Chen Yi, Erberk Eryilmaz, Theresa Wong, Reza Vali, and Kui Dong. The quartet regularly works with composers through workshops, universities, as well as Del Sol commissioning and incubator programs. They especially value their ongoing relationship with the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music in Boonville, CA.

Del Sol’s eleventh album A Dust in Time debuted at #3 on Billboard in October 2021. Called “excavations of beauty from the elemental” (The New York Times), this hour-long meditation was released in the form of a coloring book. Their previous album Kooch-e Khamân (February 2021) features 7 new works by young Iranian composers and charted #5 on Billboard. In the 2021–2022 seasons, Del Sol continues its Joy Project, performing outdoor pop-ups around the Bay Area of music written to inspire joy. They also are producing two large projects: The Angel Island Project, an immigration-themed oratorio by Chinese American composer Huang Ruo, and Between Worlds of Sound, a collaboration with North Indian musicians Alam Khan & Arjun Verma. As part of the Venice Biennale, the quartet are featured artists at the Arts Letter and Numbers Pavilion.

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