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Ossia with the Jack Quartet performing Steve Reich's "Triple Quartet" in Kodak Hall, Rochester, New York

My parents, in their later years, had season tickets to the Rochester Philharmonic. Peggi’s mom had tickets too when she was living here. The program is generally too stuffy for us but if we can help it, we don’t miss a performance of Ossia, the experimental, new music group of Eastman students. Last night was their twentieth anniversary performance. Students from the first configuration are long gone but some, the Jack Quartet, students from a decade or so ago, returned for the celebration. Last night they performed in Kodak Hall where the Philharmonic generally performs and the first piece, Morton Feldman’s “String Quartet and Orchestra,” she transcendental. Feldman sculpts with sound and you get to experience the carving, the exquisite execution of each sound. And then the space around that sound carries equal weight. It becomes a meditation.

The second piece on the program, “…Zwei Gefühle…” by Helmut Lachenmann, was hard core. The piano player needed an assistant to open and close the piano cover as he played. It was cold and clinical but arresting.

Their final piece, Steve Reich’s “Triple Quartet,” the program item that brought out the crowd, was drop=dead gorgeous. Romantic with gypsy-like violin solos in E minor. I love Steve Reich for his hallucinogenic patterns but I didn’t know he had this in him.

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