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Argus Quartet Announces Inaugural Tuition-Free Annual Institute for Composers Ages 13-18

June 8, 2021 | By Robert Besen
Managing Director

Argus Quartet Announces Inaugural Tuition-Free Annual Institute
for Composers Ages 13-18

Open to All, but Focus on BIPOC Youth in 2021

Application Deadline: June 15, 2021; Institute: September/October 2021

New York— June 8, 2021 The Argus Quartet announces the inaugural annual Argus Quartet Composers Institute, to take place via Zoom in September and October 2021. The Institute aims to provide high school age composers (ages 13–18) from communities with untapped potential access to the tools they need to develop as young artists and prepare for study at the collegiate level. The tuition-free Institute offers these young composers the opportunity to study, workshop, and collaborate with the Argus Quartet and Artist-Faculty composers David Sanford and Carlos Simon. Open to all, the 2021 Institute will prioritize applications from BIPOC composers. The institute sessions will take place via Zoom in the evenings of September 13, 20, and 27, and October 4 and 12, 2021. The application deadline is June 15. See for information on how to apply.

This project is funded entirely by generous donations, which are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Please visit the following link for more information:

The Argus Quartet’s vision for this project arose from recognition of an absence of programs of this type for high school age composers, and particularly BIPOC, female, LGBTQ , and gender non-conforming composers. The Argus Quartet’s multi-year goal through the Composers Institute is to offer a majority of spots in the Institute to applications from BIPOC, female, LGBTQ , and gender non-conforming composers, with a rotating focus each year on a single subset within these broad groups. In 2021, this subset will be BIPOC composers. Consequently, the Artist-Faculty each year will reflect that year’s focus.

Six student composers will be selected by application for the opportunity to work with this Faculty team on pieces they will compose specifically for the seminar. Over the course of five virtual sessions (including a culminating virtual performance), the young composers will have lessons, workshop their pieces, and have the unique opportunity to work directly with professional performers throughout the curation-to-completion process. The Argus Quartet will record the students’ works for the culminating showcase, and the young composers will then be able to use these recordings for any non-monetary purpose, such as college applications, competitions, and calls for scores.

The Institute is tuition-free for all students. For the 2021 Institute, the Argus Quartet will prioritize applications from BIPOC composers, and a majority of the spots in the Institute will be given to these composers. Thus, in addition to assessing individual applications, they will look at the range of composers being supported across the whole program.

The Argus Quartet understands that a problem exists in its field in terms of access to serious but tuition-free compositional study for high school age composers, especially individuals from marginalized communities. Additionally, programs for young composers are often facilitated by institutions or organizations; there are fewer spaces where professional performers themselves facilitate giving voice to younger composers. As a string quartet working regularly with composers both young and established, the Argus Quartet is in a unique position to be simultaneously an active collaborator with and promoter of young artists in their journeys towards deepening their sense of creative discovery/authenticity.

The idea of creating an institute for young composers that would specifically target individuals from communities with untapped potential has always been on the Argus Quartet members’ minds. According to Argus Quartet violist Maren Rothfritz, “One thing the Black Lives Matter movement has taught us is that we have to act radically now. There is no reason and no time to wait to solve these very present problems of access. Often, the prevailing attitude for a young quartet is a desire to work with top established composers, but the Argus Quartet recognizes its responsibility to reach in the other direction as well, supporting young adults who would like the opportunity to express themselves through composing. The Argus Quartet wants to do all it can to expand who it brings into its community, and engage with this future generation of composers.”

The participating Artist-Faculty for the 2021 Institute will be:

DAVID SANFORD. Director of the contemporary big band the Pittsburgh Collective, composer David Sanford received degrees in theory and composition from the University of Northern Colorado, New England Conservatory, and Princeton University. His works have been performed by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra under Marin Alsop, the Berkeley Symphony under Kent Nagano, the Detroit Symphony under Leslie Dunner, the Chamber Society of Lincoln Center, Dinosaur Annex, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and the Chicago Symphony Chamber Players, and he has received commissions from the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Meridian Arts Ensemble, Speculum Musicae, and cellist Matt Haimovitz, among others. His honors include the Rome Prize and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Radcliffe Institute. He is currently Elizabeth T. Kennan Professor of Music at Mount Holyoke College.

CARLOS SIMON. Carlos Simon is a native of Atlanta, Georgia whose music ranges from concert music for large and small ensembles to film scores with influences of jazz, gospel, and neo-romanticism. Simon’s latest album, My Ancestor’s Gift, was released on the Navona Records label in April 2018. Described as an “overall driving force” (Review Graveyard) and featured on Apple Music’s “Albums to Watch,” My Ancestor’s Gift incorporates spoken word and historic recordings to craft a multifaceted program of musical works that are inspired as much by the past as they are the present. As a part of the Sundance Institute, Simon was named as a Sundance Composer Fellow in 2018, which was held at the historic Skywalker Ranch. His string quartet, Elegy, honoring the lives of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner was recently performed at the Kennedy Center for the Mason Bates JFK Jukebox Series. With support from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and US/Japan Foundation, Simon traveled with the Asia/America New Music Institute (AANMI) on a two-week tour of Japan in 2018 performing concerts in some of the most sacred temples and concert spaces in Japan including Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Japan. Simon earned his doctorate degree at the University of Michigan, where he studied with Michael Daugherty and Evan Chambers. He has also received degrees from Georgia State University and Morehouse College. Additionally, he studied in Baden, Austria, at the Hollywood Music Workshop with Conrad Pope, and at New York University’s Film Scoring Summer Workshop.

ARGUS QUARTET.  The Argus Quartet is dedicated to encouraging the joys of human connection, community, and discovery by bringing a wide-ranging repertoire to life through bold and meaningful programming and a vibrant commitment to collaboration and education. Praised for playing with “supreme melodic control and total authority” and “decided dramatic impact” (Calgary Herald), the Quartet has quickly emerged as one of today’s most dynamic and versatile ensembles, winning First Prize at both the 2017 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition and the 2017 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition.

Since then, increasingly busy concert seasons have taken Argus to some of the country’s most prestigious venues and festivals, including Carnegie’s Weill and Zankel Halls, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Chamber Music Society of Detroit, the Ravinia Festival, the Albany Symphony’s American Music Festival, and Music Academy of the West. Highlights of the 2019-20 season include debut performances for Washington Performing Arts at the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series, along with a return engagement in New York for the Schneider Concerts at the New School.

Argus has worked with many of today’s leading musical voices, including Martin Bresnick, Chris Cerrone, Ted Hearne, Garth Knox, Andrew Norman, Christopher Theofanidis, and Augusta Read Thomas. Recent commissions include new quartets by Katherine Balch, Donald Crockett, GRAMMY nominee Eric Guinivan, Hermitage Prize winner Thomas Kotcheff, and Guggenheim Fellowship recipient Juri Seo. Argus’s recording of Seo’s works for string quartet was released in May 2019 on Innova Recordings. The Quartet has received grants from the Koussevitsky Foundation, Chamber Music America, and the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in support of their commissioning efforts.

From 2015-17, the Quartet served as the Fellowship Quartet in Residence at the Yale School of Music under the guidance of the Brentano Quartet, and from 2017-19 held the position of Graduate Resident String Quartet at the Juilliard School, where they worked closely with the Juilliard String Quartet. They have also held residencies at New Music on the Point, working with the JACK Quartet, and at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts as the Ernst Stiefel Quartet in Residence.

Education and outreach are an important part of the Argus Quartet’s mission. The Quartet has worked with students through residencies and masterclasses at Yale and Princeton, James Madison University, Rockport Music, the Milken School, the Young Musicians Foundation, California State University Long Beach, and Los Angeles City College.

Based in New York City, the Quartet was founded in Los Angeles in 2013, where its members shared many meals at their favorite taco truck on Argus Drive.




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