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 Quintet for High Strings

Quintet for High Strings by Bryce Dessner (The National) available for concerts 2019-2020 and beyond.
NPR has praised the music of Bryce Dessner as "gorgeous and full -hearted." 

The dynamic St. Lawrence String Quartet joined Benjamin Verdery for the world premiere of Quintet for High Strings by Bryce Dessner May 10, 2018 at Kaufmann Concert Hall, 92Y, New York, NY.
Also on the program were works by Villa-Lobos, Seymour Bernstein, Bach, Benjamin Verdery, Ingram Marshall and Boccherini.

Program notes from Ben:

This recital is a first for me in that I am partially sharing the concert with the marvelous St. Lawrence String Quartet. In addition, three of the works - including the world premiere - were written by dear, dear friends and mentors.

There are threads in the concert which weave all of us together. To begin with, Bryce Dessner was my student at Yale for five years. From the moment he entered my studio at the ripe age of 18, I could sense the potential for a lifelong relationship. It has proven to be true. Here we are, years later, about to premiere his new guitar quintet at 92Y with one of the greatest string quartets in the world. Life never ceases to delight and amaze.

While at Yale, Bryce was deeply influenced by the compositions of Ingram Marshall, who was teaching there at that time. The two went on to become great friends. In Bryce's guitar lessons, I would often convey the numerous musical truths I gleaned from the many coaching sessions I'd had with Seymour Bernstein.

I first heard the St. Lawrence String Quartet on one of my favorite John Adams CDs. It was the St. Lawrence who premiered Adams' first string quartet, John's  Alleged Book of  Dances. I practically wore that CD out, I played it so much. John Adams remains one of Ingram Marshall's closest friends, and it was Ingram who introduced me to his music, as well as to that recording. Since that time, the St. Lawrence has remained Adams' "go-to" ensemble, premiering each of his subsequent quartets.

There is an additional thread connecting the Villa-Lobos, Bernstein and Marshall pieces. All three works either quote J.S. Bach directly, or in the case of the Villa-Lobos, were profoundly inspired by him (hence the title of his Bachianas Brasileiras). It is known that Villa-Lobos referred to Bach as "the God of music". I feel the same, and I'm pretty certain that Seymour, Ingram and Bryce do, as well.