“One of the most fearless and important new-music ensembles” —San Francisco Chronicle
FLUX Quartet performed the long-awaited Boston premiere of Morton Feldman’s epic six-hour uninterrupted String Quartet No. 2 at MIT in 2016. FLUX was the first group to undertake this late 20th-century masterwork of sustained, quiet intensity, developing new performance techniques to deal with the piece’s extremes of stamina and concentration. They have since made the work one of their trademarks, with critic Alex Ross describing their performance as “a disorienting, transfixing experience that repeatedly approached and touched the sublime.”
FLUX Quartet’s visit to the Institute is part of MIT Sounding, an innovative annual performance series that blurs the boundaries between contemporary and world music. Curated by Evan Ziporyn, Faculty Director of the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology, the 2015-16 season of MIT Sounding’s diverse offerings run the gamut, from Bach to Led Zeppelin and Morton Feldman, and from acoustic recitals to electronic manipulations of the human voice. “We sought out artists who are reinventing performance and presentation,” Ziporyn says. “We selected people who are innovating not just through new works and technologies but by reexamining—and reframing—our notions of genre and repertoire, translating between mediums, or radicalizing the performance experience itself.”
FLUX Quartet (Tom Chiu, Conrad Harris, Max Mandel and Felix Fan) was founded in the late 90’s and is strongly influenced by the irreverent spirit and “anything-goes” philosophy of the fluxus art movement. The quartet has since cultivated an uncompromising repertoire that follows neither fashions nor trends, but rather combines yesterday’s seminal iconoclasts with tomorrow’s new voices. Alongside late 20th-century masters like Cage, Feldman, Ligeti, Nancarrow, Scelsi and Xenakis, the FLUX Quartet has premiered more than 100 works by many of today’s foremost innovators, including Michael Byron, Julio Estrada, David First, Oliver Lake, Alvin Lucier, Marc Neikrug, Matthew Welch; the group has also performed with many influential artists, including Thomas Buckner, Ornette Coleman, Joan La Barbara, Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Threadgill and many more.
The quartet has performed at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Chihuahua International Arts Festival in Mexico and at the Samuel Beckett Centenary Festival in Ireland, as well as such art institutions as the Kitchen, EMPAC and the Walker Art Center. Their radio credits include NPR’s All Things Considered, WNYC’s Soundcheck and WFMU’s Stochastic Hit Parade.The group’s discography includes recordings on the Cantaloupe, Innova, Tzadik and Cold Blue Music labels, in addition to two critically acclaimed releases on Mode Records that encompass the full catalogue of string quartet works by Morton Feldman. The two volumes feature String Quartet No.1 and String Quartet No.2—seminal large-scale late works by the iconic composer.
As part of its mission to support future musical pioneers, FLUX actively pursues commissions with recent grants from the American Composers Forum, USArtists International, Aaron Copland Fund, and the Meet The-Composer Foundation. The group also explores new voices from its numerous college residencies throughout the US, including Wesleyan, Dartmouth, Williams, Princeton, Rice, and the College of William and Mary.
The spirit to expand stylistic boundaries is a trademark of the FLUX Quartet, and thus the quartet avidly pursues projects with genre-transcending artists working in mixed media. These artistic synergies have led to an acclaimed recording with experimental balloonist Judy Dunaway, collaborations with choreographers Pam Tanowitz and Shen Wei, and the 3-D video work Upending with digital art-ensemble, OpenEnded Group. Most recently, FLUX appeared both on film and the soundtrack of River of Fundament, the latest work by visionary artist Matthew Barney and composer Jonathan Bepler.
More at the artist’s website: FLUX Quartet.
FLUX Quartet Concert
6-hour uninterrupted String Quartet No. 2 by Morton Feldman, Boston Premiere
February 28, 2016 / 2:00-8:00pm
MIT Killian Hall, 14W-111
160 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA
Boston Musical Intelligencer: Flux Endures and Abides
Boston Globe: Looking Ahead to Bounty of 2016 Concerts
New York Times: Music to Rock the Boat Fails to Disturb a Barge
Philly Inquirer: Flux Finds Suspense In 6-Hour Work
Icareifyoulisten.com: Flux Quartet Delivers a Reference Recording of Feldman’s String Quartet No. 1
SF Chronicle: Album Review: Morton Feldman, String Quartet No. 1
New York Times: Amniotic Rocking, Broken by Morton Feldman’s Whisper Quiet
New York Times: Microtonal Fluctuation in Moods of All Colors
New York Times: Where Bows Tap and the Cello Travels
ConcertoNet.com: The Sounds of Tomorrow
Therestisnoise.com: Missing Violin
New York Times: On a Summer’s Evening, Strings for the River Wild
New York Times: Exploring the Evolution of a Reclusive Composer