The Telegraph String Quartet plays the final concert in the Noe Valley Chamber Music series this Sunday afternoon, including a work that was written for them by composer Robert Sirota, called Wave Upon Wave. It’s his third string quartet, commissioned by the Naumburg Foundation. The ensemble, which is in residence at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, won their annual chamber music competition in 2016.
There’s more information about the concert at the Noe Valley Chamber Music website.
Robert Sirota’s first quartet, called Triptych, was inspired by the events of September 11, and written in 2002. He was already past the age of 50, and had considered earlier works written for quartet not to be strong enough to be released. It would be another 14 years before he was asked by the American String Quartet to write another one, which was called American Pilgrimage. He hadn’t intended to make it a trilogy. “I was commissioned by the Naumberg Foundation to write a piece for whoever won the Naumberg Competition. And I didn’t know what the ensemble was going to be. It could have been a piano trio, it could have been…there was one group that was a sextet… It turned out to be a string quartet.” So he set about getting to know the players, attending a few concerts and going to dinner with them. “I work very closely with ensembles. I try to get to learn the individual players before I actually write a note. And the Telegraph was, in essence, an arranged marriage. I didn’t know them before, only by reputation, they’re a very young quartet. Incredibly gifted… I’ve since gotten to know all four of them very well, and they are wonderful people, and I’m in love with each one of them, and I hope I get to work with them again.” He turned inward in this piece, describing it as “about the topography of the human heart.” The Telegraph Quartet gave the world premiere just this past February in New York at Carnegie Hall.