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Mackey's Through Your Fingers Premieres at Carnegie Hall with Alisa Weilerstein and Inon Barnatan

(September 2017)

Steven Mackey_Kah Poon 2016.jpg Cellist Alisa Weilerstein and Inon Barnatan premiere Mackey's new work on October 17 in New York City. The duo takes the piece on tour to Fort Worth, Houston, London, and in Germany.

Steven Mackey has found new champions of his music in cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan. His substantial 17-minute piece for cello and piano, Through Your Fingers, is premiered by the superstar chamber duo at their Carnegie Hall recital on October 17 (in Zankel Hall). They then tour the new work to Texas for performances in Fort Worth (Oct 19/20) and Houston (Oct 21), and then present the UK premiere at Wigmore Hall on November 4 and two German performances in Celle (Nov 2) and Gauting (Nov 5).

Mackey first met Weilerstein at the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival in 2001 while he was composer-in-residence there. He writes, "I was impressed with how deeply she owns the music as well as the range of music she plays, from traditional repertoire to living composers with vastly different styles."

His new piece for cello and piano capitalizes on Weilerstein’s broad range, employing traditional cello techniques that then devolve and fragment into non-traditional approaches to the instrument. The piece, as Mackey explains, explores the space between the concepts of directness and elusiveness:

"Solid lines of melody become flickering vapor trails. Robust chords become distant wind chimes. Transformation, illusion and reimagining interact with straightforward notions of harmony and melody to create a dialogue between music that is readily grasped and that which seems to slip through one’s fingers."

Mackey’s extensive solo and chamber writing for strings includes the works Repeated Notes for solo violin (2014); Gaggle and Flock (2001) for double string quartet; as well as his celebrated string quartet One Red Rose (2013), written for the Brentano String Quartet to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In its review of One Red Rose, The New York Times wrote: "Heartfelt in effect and fascinating in detail, One Red Rose showed Mr. Mackey’s expert grasp of the string quartet idiom: not only the timbres, textures and expressive effects of its component instruments, but also the genre’s distinctive capacities for parity, transparency and discernible impact of disparate, simultaneous threads."

Through Your Fingers is Mackey’s first work for cello and piano, and he explains how his approach to writing for this pairing differed from his previous works:

"Writing for Alisa and Inon appealed to me precisely because of the potential—if not necessity—of doing something more intimate and detailed than the orchestral music and quartets I’ve composed over the past 20 years. It is a different kind of process to create material that two individuals will communicate as if speaking directly to the audience, as opposed to creating a large soundscape that the audience inhabits.

Through Your Fingers was co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall and Wigmore Hall, with the support of André Hoffmann, president of the Fondation Hoffmann, a Swiss grant-making foundation. The piece is presented on October 17 as part of Carnegie Hall’s 125 Commissions Project.

> October 17 at Carnegie Hall in New York (World Premiere)
> October 19/20 at the Kimbell Art Museum, presented by Cliburn Concerts in Fort Worth, Texas
> October 21 at the Wortham Center, presented by Society for the Performing Arts in Houston, Texas
> November 2 at the Schlosstheater Celle in Celle, Germany (German Premiere)
> November 4 at Wigmore Hall (UK Premiere)
> November 5 at the Bosco Gauting in Gauting, Germany


>  Further information on Work: Through Your Fingers

Photo: Kah Poon

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