As the story goes, French composer Maurice Ravel was honored with a birthday party during his visit to New York in 1928, and among the guests was George Gershwin. After an impromptu performance of Rhapsody in Blue, Gershwin asked Ravel for composition lessons, to which Ravel, who admired the American’s works, replied, “Why should you be a second-rate Ravel when you can be a first-rate Gershwin?” In this program, we feature four composers with unique musical voices. Ravel’s singular contribution to the quartet repertoire stands out as a beautiful work of inspired originality. Likewise, Gershwin’s only quartet, the Lullaby, captures the composer’s tuneful voice. William Bolcom, one of the most respected living American composers, draws on that quintessential American musical style, ragtime, for his Three Rags for string quartet. Finally, composer and violist Ljova explores the rich melting pot of New York City’s world music traditions in his Vjola Suite. In one movement, he dreams about the joy of someday eating a bagel while strolling down Havana’s Malecón boardwalk.

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Works to be performed on the “Rhapsody and Idiosyncrasy” program include:

William Bolcom, Three Rags
Gershwin, Lullaby for string quartet
Ljova, Vjola Suite
Ravel, String Quartet in F major