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Press Releases

Baryshnikov Art Center and Tippet Rise Co-Present the Aizuri Quartet in Two Digital Concerts

May 4, 2021 | By Katy Salomon
Account Director, Morahan Arts and Media



Kristen Miles | Baryshnikov Arts Center | 646-731-3221

Katy Salomon | Morahan Arts and Media | 863-660-2214


Works by Female Composers Spanning 10 Centuries, Filmed March 2021 at the
Studio of Sculptor Joel Shapiro in Long Island City, New York 

Watch the What’s Past is Prologue Trailer

Each Concert Available to Stream for Free for Two Weeks at BACNYC.ORG

May 4, 2021, New York, NY— Baryshnikov Arts Center and Tippet Rise Art Center co-present the Aizuri Quartet in two digital concerts premiering on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 3PM MT/5PM ET and Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 3PM MT/5PM ET at and The two-part program, What’s Past is Prologue, features music spanning 10 centuries, all by female composers. A film by director Tristan Cook with audio engineer Noriko Okabe artfully captures Aizuri Quartet performing these works on March 4, 2021 at the studio of sculptor Joel Shapiro in Long Island City, New York. Both concert films will be free and available on-demand for two weeks following the premiere date. 

In the program notes, Aizuri cellist Karen Ouzounian writes, “The phrase ‘What’s Past is Prologue’ was famously spoken by Antonio in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and has become a modern shorthand for the notion that history sets the context for the present. For this Aizuri Quartet program, [it] refers to music of the present moment that has sprung forth from the past. Contemporary composers [Rhiannon Giddens, Gabriella Smith, and Eleanor Alberga] reflect on the work of those who came before them as they push the string quartet medium towards the future.”

The June 23 premiere features German Benedictine composer and philosopher Hildegard von Bingen’s (b. 1098) liturgical poem Columba aspexit, newly arranged for string quartet by Alex Fortes, and San Francisco Bay Area-based composer and environmentalist Gabriella Smith’s (b. 1991) Carrot Revolution, written for Aizuri’s GRAMMY-winning album Blueprinting. The program also includes GRAMMY and MacArthur Award-winning composer and singer/songwriter Rhiannon Giddens’ (b. 1977) psychological journey into a troubled part of America’s past, At the Purchaser’s Option, inspired by an 1830s advertisement selling a young enslaved woman, with or without her 9 month old baby “at the purchaser’s option.” Giddens, a musical historian, imagines the thoughts of the enslaved person whose soul is out of reach to her captors.

The June 30 premiere includes Alex Fortes’ new, Aizuri-commissioned string quartet arrangements of Italian composer and singer Barbara Strozzi’s (b. 1619) L'usignuolo “The Nightingale” and L’amante modesto “The Modest Lover,” originally written for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass with basso continuo; and the second movement of British, Jamaican-born composer Eleanor Alberga’s (b. 1949) String Quartet No. 1. Alberga writes, “In the case of the first quartet I was propelled into an intense burst of creativity by a lecture on physics. The details of this lecture – who gave it, where it was given, and so on – are now lost to my memory, but what grabbed me was the realization that all matter – including our physical bodies – is made of the same stuff: star dust. So the first movement might be called ‘a fugue without a subject,’ as particles of this stardust swirl around each other, go their separate ways, collide, or merge. The second movement might be described as ‘stargazing from outer space,’ while the finale re-establishes gravity and earthbound energy.” 

A live Zoom conversation among the quartet members will be held on Monday, June 28, 2021 at 7PM MT/9PM ET. Free registration is available beginning May 24 at  

Described as “immensely appealing” by The New York Times, American sculptor Joel Shapiro (b. 1941) creates abstract geometric sculpture that elicits a sense of movement and engages viewers’ physical and psychological relationships with space. His studio, the setting for both concerts, currently exhibits his recent investigations of the expressive possibility of form and color in space – painted wooden elements suspended from the ceiling and extended from the walls and floor – exploring the projection of thought into space without the constraint of architecture.

Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) and Tippet Rise are both known for presenting concerts in spectacular settings. BAC concerts stand out – not only because of the caliber of artists and thoughtful content juxtaposing disparate styles and eras – but for their presentation in BAC's own studios, with expansive windows and views of the Manhattan skyline and Hudson River, and careful attention to visual and lighting design. Tippet Rise's programs are presented in the 150-seat Olivier Music Barn looking out on Montana’s rolling hills, and the Domo, an acoustically rich, outdoor sculptural structure, which is an inverted echo of the Beartooth Mountains beyond it. Aizuri Quartet’s performance in Shapiro’s studio demonstrates the spirit of BAC and Tippet Rise’s shared programmatic vision to treat every concert as a multidisciplinary event.

Event Information

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 5PM ET until Wednesday, July 7, 2021 at 5PM ET
Free and available on demand at and 
Running Time: 
20 Minutes

Hildegard von Bingen (arr. Alex Fortes): Columba aspexit
Rhiannon Giddens: At the Purchaser’s Option (2016) 
Gabriella Smith: Carrot Revolution (2015)  

Monday, June 28 at 7:00PM MT/9:00PM ET
In Conversation: Aizuri Quartet
Live on ZOOM
Free / Registration required at, available beginning May 24
Running Time:
 30 Minutes

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 5PM ET until Wednesday, July 14 at 5PM ET
Free and available on demand at and 
Running Time: 
25 Minutes

Barbara Strozzi (arr. Alex Fortes): L'usignuolo
Eleanor Alberga: String Quartet No. 1 (1993) 
     II. Espressivo, with wonder and yearning 
Barbara Strozzi (arr. Alex Fortes): L'amante modesto 

Programs were filmed at the studio of sculptor Joel Shapiro in Long Island City, NY on March 4, 2021. 

Film Director - Tristan Cook
Audio Engineer - Noriko Okabe

About Aizuri Quartet
Praised by The Washington Post for “captivating” performances that draw from its notable “meld of intellect, technique and emotions,” the Aizuri Quartet was awarded the Grand Prize and the CAG Management Prize at the 2018 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, along with top prizes at the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in Japan, and the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition in London. The Quartet’s debut album, Blueprinting, featuring new works written for the Aizuri Quartet by five American composers, was released by New Amsterdam Records and nominated for a 2019 GRAMMY Award.  

Through its engaging and thought-provoking programs, branded by The New York Times as “genuinely exciting” and “imaginative,” the Quartet has garnered critical acclaim for bringing “a technical bravado and emotional power” to bold new commissions, and for its “flawless” (San Diego Union-Tribune) performances of the great masterpieces of the past.

The Quartet has performed extensively throughout North America, as well as in Europe, Japan, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, and Abu Dhabi, and has commissioned and premiered new works by Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw, Lembit Beecher, Paul Wiancko, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Gabriella Smith, Rene Orth, Michi Wiancko, and Alyssa Weinberg. Their 20-21 season highlights include performances at Lincoln Center, San Antonio Chamber Music Society, National Gallery, Dallas Chamber Music Society, the Kennedy Center and a special performance of John Adams’ Absolute Jest with the Milwaukee Symphony. 

The quartet has been combining four distinctive musical personalities into a unique collective since 2012. Aizuri Quartet draws its name from “aizuri-e,” a style of predominantly blue Japanese woodblock printing that is noted for its vibrancy and incredible detail. They are currently based in New York City. Learn more at

About Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC)
 is the realization of a long-held vision by artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov who sought to build an arts center in Manhattan that would serve as a gathering place for artists from all disciplines. BAC’s opening in 2005 heralded the launch of this mission, establishing a thriving creative laboratory and performance space for artists from around the world. BAC’s activities encompass a robust residency program augmented by a range of professional services, including commissions of new work, as well as the presentation of performances by artists at varying stages of their careers. In tandem with its commitment to supporting artists, BAC is dedicated to building audiences for the arts by presenting contemporary, innovative work at affordable ticket prices. For more information visit

About Tippet Rise Art Center
Tippet Rise Art Center is located in Fishtail, Montana against the backdrop of the Beartooth Mountains, roughly midway between Billings and Bozeman and just north of Yellowstone National Park. Set on a 12,000-acre working sheep and cattle ranch, Tippet Rise hosts classical music performances and exhibits large-scale outdoor sculptures. Tippet Rise is anchored in the belief that art, music, architecture, and nature are inextricably linked in the human experience, each making the others more powerful. 

The Tippet Rise website has become a rich multimedia resource, featuring a Music Downloads Library of free DXD files; films created by Tippet Rise’s in-house videographers; photography of scenes from the art center; online events, including the monthly streaming series Tippet Rise & Friends at Home; and conversation through the monthly Tippet Rise Podcast. 

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