ACME, the American Contemporary Music Ensemble performs on Thursday, April 18 at 7:30pm. presented by The Morgan Library and Museum (225 Madison Avenue) and the Polish Cultural Institute New York. ACME pays homage to the late, largely unsung Polish composer Mieczys?aw Weinberg with an elegiac chamber music program that includes his exquisite Piano Quintet Op. 18, plus Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67 and selections from Henryk Górecki's String Quartet No. 3.
The music of Mieczys?aw Weinberg is slowly being rediscovered as one of the hidden treasures of the 20th century. Born in Poland, Weinberg emigrated to the Soviet Union under perilous circumstances. Often seen in the shadow of his close friend Dmitri Shostakovich, who regarded him as one of the most outstanding composers of the day, in recent years Weinberg has been recognized as a significant composer in his own right. His prolific output includes 17 string quartets, over 20 large-scale symphonies, numerous sonatas, and film-scores. His 1968 opera, The Passenger, was praised by Alex Ross in The New Yorker in 2011 and will be given its North American premiere by the Houston Opera during the 2013-14 season.
Weinberg's Piano Quintet Op. 18 was completed in 1944, shortly after he moved to Moscow at the urging of Shostakovich, having fled the Nazi invasion of his hometown of Warsaw. ACME pairs Weinberg's Quintet with Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 2, a lamentation of the Holocaust completed the same year. In addition, ACME offers selections from Henryk Górecki's String Quartet No. 3 entitled Pie?ni ?piewaj? ("...songs are sung"). The complete line from Russian poet Velimir Khlebnikov's verse that this title quotes is "when people die / songs are sung."
ACME Artistic Director Clarice Jensen explains, "This idea is also reflective of Weinberg's immensely tragic life. Despite, or perhaps because of, a life threatened by uncertainty and unthinkable turmoil, Weinberg still created music; he still 'sang.'"
ACME players for this concert are Caroline Shaw, violin; Ben Russell, violin; Nadia Sirota, viola; Clarice Jensen, cello, and Timothy Andres, piano.
ACME is dedicated to the outstanding performance of masterworks from the 20th and 21st centuries, primarily the work of American composers. The ensemble presents cutting-edge literature by living composers alongside the "classics" of the contemporary. ACME's dedication to new music extends across genres, and has earned the group a reputation among both classical and rock crowds. Time Out New York calls the group "one of New York's brightest new music indie-bands."
In addition to the concert at the Morgan, 2012-2013 highlights for ACME included July performances with otherworldly indie-duo A Winged Victory for the Sullen in Chicago's massive Millennium Park and at Le Poisson Rouge; a special September 11 performance of Steve Reich's complete string quartets, the world premiere of the all-live version of WTC 9/11, at Le Poisson Rouge; a three-night run in October as part of BAM's Next Wave Festival, performing the world premiere of Phil Kline's Out Cold with vocalist Theo Bleckmann; as well as performances presented by the Library of Congress in Washington, DC and CenterStage in Reston, VA. In April 2013, the ensemble is in residence at Dartmouth's Hopkins Center workshopping a new opera about Nikola Tesla with Phil Kline and filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. In February 2013, ACME released Joseph Byrd: NYC 1960-1963 - a rediscovered contemporary of La Monte Young and Morton Feldman and a player in the Fluxus art movement - on New World Records.
About The Morgan Library and Museum: The Morgan Library & Museum began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan, one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States. Today, more than a century after its founding in 1906, the Morgan serves as a museum, musical venue, independent research library, architectural landmark, and historic site. In October 2010, the Morgan completed the first-ever restoration of its original McKim building, Pierpont Morgan's private library, and the core of the institution. In tandem with the 2006 expansion project by architect Renzo Piano, the Morgan now provides visitors unprecedented access to its world-renowned collections of drawings, literary and historical manuscripts, musical scores, medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, printed books, and ancient Near Eastern seals and tablets. www.themorgan.org