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Program for Friction Quartet

Friday, May 20, 2022 at 8 pm

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Friction Quartet

Doug Machiz, cello
Otis Harriel, violin
Kevin Rogers, violin
Mitso Floor, viola


George Gershwin (1898–1937)

Mario Godoy (b. 1988)
Attention Economy


Bedřich Smetana (1824–1884)
String Quartet no. 1 in E minor, ‘From My Life’
Allegro vivo appassionato
             Allegro moderato à la Polka
             Largo sostenuto

About the music

Mario Godoy (b. 1988)
Attention Economy
Commissioned by Friction Quartet as part of the Friction Commissioning Initiative.

From the composer – “The scarcest resource in today’s age of never-ending digital content is our attention. Our collective addiction to news and information has changed how we live our daily lives. Social media allows us to connect with people all over the world with a click of a mouse, but it has also drastically shifted how we consume media. When all of this information is seemingly free, corporations need to compete for your eyes and ears. This work, Attention Economy, is a reflection on social consciousness in the age of social media and the 24-hour news cycle. In the guise of a standard four-movement quartet, it is structured to reflect a constantly shifting focus.

The first movement of Attention Economy is titled Newsfeed. This represents the deluge of information that we are presented with on a daily basis. Here we hear a cacophony of voices competing for the listener’s attention. Small thematic ideas echo, bounce around, stretch, warp, and change over time. Every so often, something new may emerge from the texture but is quickly swallowed by the surrounding voices.

Sadly, the only times that it feels we slow down, reflect, and come together is during times of tremendous sorrow and tragedy. Movement two, elegy, is a tribute to those who have lost their lives due to violence, negligence, and disasters. This moves without pause into the third movement representing how quickly those of us who were not directly affected by the tragedy can move right back into our daily routines.

The third movement, Screens, is a reflection of how we as a society choose to interact with the world around us. For a significant amount of the world, screens have become a key fixture in our human identity. They are our best friends, our teachers, our babysitters, our time-wasters. They often know more about us than we do about ourselves. This movement uses sounds that mimic notifications and phones buzzing and reflects on how we choose to communicate with each other, how we chose to distract ourselves, and how we can get sucked into digital rabbit holes.

The fourth movement, Reset, is a more introspective moment that allows the listener time to reexamine their own relationship with technology and how it affects their daily lives. With a certain intention, we can coexist with these ever-evolving technologies in a way that allows us to communicate, share, and learn while still maintaining those personal connections that make us human.”

Bedřich Smetana (1824–1884)
String Quartet no. 1 in E minor, ‘From My Life’
This quartet was written at a late and pivotal point in Smetana’s life. In 1874, two years before writing this piece, he contracted syphilis and his health began a swift decline. His hearing began failing and he started hearing a characteristic ringing in his ears we now know as tinnitus.

In 1876 he moved from Prague to Jabkenice in hopes that the country would ease his health problems. It was this year that he began his creation of a personal piece inspired by his own life. It is this quartet, In My Life, that he produced and nowhere is the nature of the piece most aptly described than his own personal letters.

“My intention was to paint a tone picture of my life. The first movement depicts my youthful leanings toward art, the Romantic atmosphere, the inexpressible yearning for something I could neither express nor define, and also a kind of warning of my future misfortune . . . The long insistent note in the finale owes its origin to this. It is the fateful ringing in my ears of the high-pitched tones which in 1874 announced the beginning of my deafness. I permitted myself this little joke, because it was so disastrous to me. The second movement, a quasi-polka, brings to mind the joyful days of youth when I composed dance tunes and was known everywhere as a passionate lover of dancing. The third movement . . . reminds me of the happiness of my first love, the girl who later became my wife. The fourth movement describes the discovery that I could treat national elements in music and my joy in following this path until it was checked by the catastrophe of the onset of my deafness, the outlook into the sad future, the tiny rays of hope of recovery, but remembering all the promise of my early career, a feeling of painful regret”

This piece mixes a personal programmatic piece with the hallmarks of Smetana’s mature style.  He devoted his life to bringing a style of music that was inspired by music of his home, the Czech people. This nationalistic approach to music inspired Dvorak and other composers, all the way to Copland, to develop music that spoke to the uniqueness of the place it was created.  —Notes by Otis Harriel

George Gershwin (1898–1937)
Gershwin was well known as a brilliant writer of very public popular and classical music. He like many other composers wrote many smaller works that were only played in private amongst friends. This short piece was written in 1919 and was played by colleagues and friends until 1967 when it received its first public performance by the Juilliard Quartet. It is a hidden gem of Gershwin’s catalogue, and although it is commonly played by orchestras, the original string quartet treatment is a lovely, intimate, and unique Gershwin experience. —Notes by Otis Harriel

About the musicians

Friction Quartet, whose performances have been called “stunningly passionate” (Calgary Herald) and “exquisitely skilled” (ZealNYC), exists to modernize the chamber music experience and expand the string quartet repertoire. Friction achieves this mission by commissioning new works, curating imaginative programs, collaborating with artists, and presenting interactive educational outreach. Joshua Kosman (San Francisco Chronicle) declared that Friction Quartet is, “The Bay Area’s redoubtable new-music ensemble.”

Since forming in 2011, Friction has commissioned fifty works for string quartet and given countless world premiere performances. To support their mission of commissioning new music, they developed the Friction Commissioning Initiative to work together with their audience to fund specific commissions. Since 2017, they have raised $20,000 that has funded eleven new works, including five by young composers between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one. In the past few years, they have been awarded commissioning  grants from Chamber Music America and IntermusicSF. They have received additional grant support from IntermusicSF, Zellerbach Family Foundation, and the California Arts Council.

Friction has held residencies at the New Music for Strings Festival in Denmark, Interlochen Arts Camp, Lunenburg Academy of Music, Napa Valley Performing Arts Center, Old First Concerts, San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, and was the first ensemble in residence at the Center for New Music. They are ensemble educators with San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music Program, KDFC Playground Pop Ups, and more.

Friction appears on recordings with National Sawdust Tracks, Innova Records, Albany Records, and Pinna Records. Their recent albums include Rising, featuring three commissioned quartets about the changing climate and the landscapes of California, and Counter Paint, a collaborative multimedia project created by Pascal Le Boeuf and Danny Clay. They released their full-length debut album, resolve, in 2018.

Friction Quartet won Second Prize in the 2016 Schoenfeld Competition, were quarter-finalists in the 2015 Fischoff Competition, and placed second at the 2015 Frances Walton Competition.

A native of Washington, DC, cellist Doug Machiz resides in Oakland where he is co-founder, manager, and cellist of Friction Quartet.  With Friction, Doug is extremely fortunate to perform old and new string quartets around the United States with amazing musicians.  He is also grateful for the many opportunities Friction has to inspire young people with the power of music. In addition to his work with Friction Quartet, Doug is an active free-lance musician and teacher.  He has participated in the Banff Chamber Music Residency, Deer Valley Music Festival with the Muir Quartet, the St. Lawrence Emerging String Quartet Program, Bang on a Can Summer Festival, Fontainebleau Conservatoire Americain in France, and the Zephyr International Chamber Music Course and Festival in Italy.

While beginning his cello studies at the late age of 14, he was able to progress quickly thanks to his previous experience studying classical and jazz piano, bass guitar and classical and electric guitar. He was fortunate to study with Mike Reynolds at Boston University despite his limited experience. He went on to earn a Masters degree from UT Austin with Bion Tsang, and a Professional Studies Diploma from the San Francisco Conservatory where he studied with Jennifer Culp. In his spare time, Doug is an avid yogi, road cyclist, backpacker, traveler and weather geek. Since moving to San Francisco he has become severely addicted the amazing coffee.  He’s a big fan of Haruki Murakami novels and films by Richard Linklater, Wes Anderson, and PT Anderson.

Violinist Otis Harriel earned his Bachelors Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in Spring 2013. He began his studies with Rob Diggins in his hometown of Arcata, CA. Under his teacher’s guidance he began performing with many local orchestras and chamber ensembles including the Eureka Symphony and Humboldt State Symphony. He attended the Sequoia Chamber Music Workshop, Idyllwild Chamber Music Program, Sphinx Academy of Music. Mendocino Music Festival and Castleton Festival.

Otis studied with Wei He at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has participated in master classes with the first violinist of the Shanghai Quartet, Weigang Li, William van der Sloot, and Pinchas Zukerman. While at the conservatory he developed his love of chamber music under the guidance of coaches including Mark Sokol, Jennifer Culp, Jean-Michel Fonteneau and Jodi Levitz. He has a passion for reading, baking and Haydn.

As a young violinist, works of composers such as Penderecki, Boulez, and Berio captivated Kevin Rogers long before his first exposure to even a complete Beethoven Symphony, setting the groundwork for his passionate career in contemporary classical music. He is the founding violinist/violist of Nonsemble6, a contemporary Pierrot Ensemble based in San Francisco. As part of this group he has performed at the Astoria Music Festival as guests-artists-residence, at Universities throughout the country, in unorthodox venues through Classical Revolution SF, and at the Kennedy Center.

He began his solo career at sixteen in South Carolina. His most recent solo performances have included the Lou Harrison Violin Concerto at the Hot Air Music Festival in San Francisco, and a premier of Manly Romero’s concerto for two violins and two trumpets titled Doppelgaenger with the Blue Print Series under the Baton of Nicole Paiement.

Kevin Rogers recently graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a Masters degree in Violin Performance. While there he received the award for Violin in New Music, and the award for Violin in the String departments. He studied with Bettina Mussumeli and worked closely with Jennifer Culp, Jodi Levitz and Mark Sokol. Having grown up on a farm, you can occasionally hear him slip into a southern accent after many hours of practicing or in moments of excitement.

Mitso Floor is a violist and occasional cellist from Seattle. He has an insatiable appetite for Dvořák and chamber music, which began when he formed his first string quartet—the Bach Street Boyz—in 8th grade. He received a bachelor’s degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2019 and a master’s degree this spring from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. During his studies, he has worked with composers to expand the solo viola repertoire, premiering several works for the instrument, as well as one for solo cello. He has performed with the Palm Beach Symphony, Vallejo Symphony, Nu Deco Ensemble, and a wide range of artists including Gerard Schwarz, Rev Run, and José Feliciano.

Floor’s all-time favorite activity is sight-reading chamber music with friends. He finds the spontaneity of interpreting printed music on-the-spot to be one of the purest forms of music-making. Other activities he enjoys, too numerous to fit into his free time, include arranging, recording, making pizza, filming, knitting, 3D modeling, playing video games, hiking, reading, and creating videos of himself playing many different instruments (and non-instruments) at the same time, which can be found at on YouTube.

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