Del Sol String Quartet is celebrating its 25th season with a 3 day “Whole Sol Festival” starting tonight, when they’ll be joined by special guests Terry Riley and his son Gyan. There are several premieres on Friday, including a work that will include a ukelele chorus from the audience, and Gabriela Lena Frank has written a new work premiering Saturday, on a program with several of her pieces.

There’s more information about the festival at the Del Sol Quartet website.

The four members of Del Sol are Benjamin Kreith, Rick Shinozaki, Charlton Lee, and Kathryn Bates. Lee says that the number of premieres and new works to their repertory for this festival is unusual. “Even though we’re playing contemporary music, we’re playing music being written by living composers, but we’re not taking on a lot of them. We’re really focusing on a few, and trying to go deep. So I think that gives composers an opportunity to write more, either complex, or more involving a language that requires a little bit more in-depth study.” And, he says, the language metaphor is apt. “I could pick up a book in Spanish, and I could read it to you, but I’m not fluent. And I would sound really horrible to a native speaker. And I think our idea is that we will try to take the time to do our best to speak more like a native within the language of that particular composer.” One way that they’ve gone deep is embracing the music of composer Ben Johnston, who writes in ‘just intonation.’ It’s a tuning that’s based on pure ratios of frequencies to make harmonies more resonant and ‘perfect,’ even though many ears steeped in classical training and the ‘well-tempered’ tuning compromises might perceive it as being a bit odd. Saturday’s program includes a work by Johnston, and a ‘just intonation’ premiere by Theresa Wong.

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