Aizuri at the Met


The Aizuri Quartet is honored to have been the 2017-18 Quartet-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Throughout the course of our residency, we curated five concerts based on themes that we hold dear to our hearts. Relive some of our favorite moments below.


Concert I Music & Mayhem

In our first residency concert, we explored the music of three distinct composers writing in times of mayhem. Sofia Gubaidulina’s fourth string quartet, composed during the fall of the Soviet regime, immerses the audience in a uniquely haunting sound world through the use of tiny rubber mallets and multi-track tape. Steve Reich’s Different Trains combines an amplified string quartet with pre-recorded tape as a meditation on the atrocities of World War II. The final piece, Beethoven’s Harp quartet, was written as Napoleon arrived at the gates of Vienna in 1809. Playing music that spanned the course of nearly two centuries, we examined the human experience in times of political, geographical, and social mayhem. Check out our bonus Spotify playlist for more hand-picked, mayhem-inspired music! Performed on October 21, 2017.

Concert II Music & Isolation

The second performance of the Aizuri Quartet’s MetLiveArts residency focused on the concept of isolation seen through multiple lenses: the geographical and political isolation of Conlon Nancarrow, the seclusion of Haydn at the remote court of Prince Esterhazy, the social and psychological isolation of Hildegard von Bingen and Carlo Gesualdo in ancient vocal works arranged by dear friend Alex Fortes, and aural isolation due to loss of hearing in perhaps Beethoven’s greatest achievement, the Grosse Fuge. Performed on December 1, 2017.

Concert III Japan Across the World

The Aizuri Quartet presented three composers of Japanese descent living and working in three different parts of the world, their voices molded by their respective environments. Featuring world-renowned shakuhachi player Kojiro Umezaki, this third installment of Aizuri Quartet's MET Residency traversed Akira Nishimura’s fifth quartet Shesha, Kojiro Umezaki’s (Cycles) what falls must rise and Paul Wiancko’s LIFT in a program performed in the MET Museum’s unique and spectacular Astor Court. Performed on February 23, 2018.

Concert IV Seven Last Words

The Aizuri Quartet joined forces with spoken word artist and poet extraordinaire Denice Frohman for an afternoon reimagining Haydn's Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross. Denice shared new poetry that sparked imagination, provoked introspection, invited political discourse, and brought the world smaller by contextualizing this centuries-old piece in 2018.  Recited between movements and inspired by the titles of the Seven Last Words that Christ spoke as he perished, the poetry served as a fourth dimension to the performance, played in the breathtaking Fuentidueña Chapel at the MET Cloisters.  Check out our bonus Spotify playlist for more hand-picked pieces that complement the Seven Last Words. Performed on March 31, 2018.

I gifted you metal, your country built guns

I refilled the ocean, you invented thirst

I offered you dirt, & you drew a line

you drew a line

you drew a line
— Denice Frohman

Photos by Paula Lobo/ Copyright (c) 2018 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Concert V Music & Migration

The final performance of the Aizuri Quartet’s MetLiveArts residency culminated in a program titled “Music & Migration” at the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium.  The program featured a collaboration with world-renowned clarinetist-composer Kinan Azmeh from the Silkroad Ensemble for an evening of personal musical reflections on the theme of migration. The program included a suite of micro-commissions comprising four world premieres by composers Michi Wiancko, Can Bilir, Wang Lu, and Pauchi Sasaki, as well as a stand-alone clarinet quintet work “The Fence, the Rooftop, and the Distant Sea” composed by Kinan Azmeh himself. The quartet also performed Lembit Beecher’s “These Memories May True,” inspired by the legacy of his Estonian grandmother Taimi Lepasaar, and her stories of escape and migration, and a string quartet arrangement of a collection of Armenian folk songs by Komitas Vartabed. Performed on June 1, 2018.

Composers and musicians of the Music & Migration show with pre concert talk moderator Helga Davis

Composers and musicians of the Music & Migration show with pre concert talk moderator Helga Davis