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Five Boroughs Music Festival Announces 2024-25 Season Programming

July 1, 2024 | By Morahan Arts & Media

PR Contact: Katlyn Morahan | Morahan Arts & Media 
katlyn@morahanartsandmedia.com | 646.378.9386

Five Boroughs Music Festival Announces 
2024-25 Season Programming

NYC Premieres by Layale Chaker & Jonathan Woody;
The Return of Clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and the Aizuri Quartet;
5BMF Debuts by Biribá Union, Ivalas Quartet, The New Consort
Toomai String Quintet, and Ruckus;
Plus New Partnerships with Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Belongó  


New York, NY (July 1, 2024) — New York City’s Five Boroughs Music Festival (5BMF) announces its 2024-25 Season with major programs across the city reflecting the diversity and richness of the musical talent of NYC and beyond. As part of its core mission to make great chamber music programming accessible to all of New York City, 5BMF has presented performances in all five boroughs every year since its inception in 2007 and continues to offer world-class programming across each borough this season. Highlights of the 2024-2025 season include two New York City premieres by composer and violinist Layale Chaker and performer/composer Jonathan Woody; the return of the Aizuri Quartet and Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh; and 5BMF debuts by Biribá Union, the Ivalas Quartet, The New Consort, Toomai String Quintet, and Ruckus.  

5BMF’s 18th season reflects a renewed focus on service to the communities where we present concerts, accomplished by a greater investment in venue partnerships, allowing our concerts to reach new and greater audiences as we collaborate with venues who already have a community presence,” 5BMF General and Artistic Director, Leah Hollingsworth, said. 

Biribá Union – comprised of Grammy Award-winning cello player, singer, and composer Mike Block, progressive Hip-Hop artist and multi-instrumentalist Christylez Bacon, and Uruguayan electric bass player and composer Patricia Ligia – make their 5BMF debut performing on Thursday, September 12, 2024 at 7:00 p.m. at Bronx Music Hall and on Friday, September 13, 2024 at 7:30 p.m. at Flushing Town Hall. Performing a program that blends original music with global influences drawing from Brazilian, Bluegrass, Jazz, Classical, Hip-Hop, Funk, and Pop styles, the trio has been praised by BNN as “a beacon of artistic innovation and collaboration, showcasing the transformative power of music to unite and inspire … a much-needed reminder of the beauty that emerges when we come together to celebrate our differences.”

On Thursday, October 17, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. 5BMF presents the Ivalas Quartet in a new partnership with the Sugar Hill Museum of Art & Storytelling as part of the “Thursday on the Hill” series. Dedicated to the celebration of BIPOC voices, Ivalas seeks to enhance the classical music world by consistently spotlighting past and present BIPOC composers. The quartet makes its 5BMF debut with a program titled Fate and Yearning featuring works by Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and NYC-based Black American composer Alvin Singleton.

Making their 5BMF debut, vocal chamber ensemble The New Consort performs their program RETURN / REVIVE: A Meditation on Grief, Hope, and Community on Friday, November 1, 2024 at 7:30 p.m. at Brooklyn Art Haus and Saturday, November 2, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church on Staten Island. The program pairs two major works, one ancient and one brand new. First, marking the 450th anniversary of Tudor composer Robert White, The New Consort performs his Lamentations a5, which gorgeously, viscerally expresses Jeremiah's sorrow at the Biblical destruction of Jerusalem, made all the more poignant in light of his tragically early death from the Black Plague in 1574. In response, acclaimed composer and ensemble member Jonathan Woody’s Lamentation, commissioned with the support of Chamber Music America's Classical Commissioning Grant, explores modern experiences of LGBTQ loss and otherness, but also celebrates the ability of communities to mold adversity into hope and purpose. These two musical pillars are interwoven with music by David Lang, Billie Eilish, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and more, to take the listener on a journey from darkness to light, perfect for the weekend of All Saints' and All Souls' Day.

In the new year, celebrated Grammy Award-winning Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh returns to 5BMF with the Grammy Award-winning Aizuri Quartet for a collaborative program titled Music and Migration on Sunday, February 2, 2025 at 4:00 p.m. at Brooklyn Public Library as part of BPL Presents. Music and Migration approaches the theme of migration in the broadest possible terms, as a physical journey and state of mind, and something that occurs both between and within countries, conveying each artist’s personal relationships to and experiences of migration. Built around a new commission from composer and violinist Layale Chaker, this program includes three additional works (by Azmeh, Wang Lu and Michi Wiancko), wide-ranging in style and approach, commissioned by the Aizuri Quartet to respond to this theme. These works are performed alongside music by the Armenian composer, Komitas Vartabed, American vocalist/composer/banjo and fiddle player, Rhiannon Giddens, and Cuban-American saxophonist, clarinetist and composer, Paquito D’Rivera, beautifully straddling multiple cultures and musical traditions. 

On Tuesday, March 25, 2025 at 7:00 p.m., 5BMF joins in partnership with Orchestra of St. Luke’s for a concert in the Art Gallery at Hostos Community College in the Bronx as part of OSL’s Five Borough Tour. The program features the music of Chen Yi – a prolific composer who blends Chinese and Western traditions, transcending cultural and musical boundaries – and features a string quartet from OSL, cellist Jeffrey Ziegler, and two traditional Chinese instrumentalists: Liu Li on the guqin and Chen Tao on the xiao. Dr. Chen Yi will attend the concert to introduce audiences to her music and share her own story. The performance includes Yi's Sound of the Five, Zhou Long's Chinese Folk Songs, and other works.

In April 2025, 5BMF embarks on a new partnership with Belongó, the NYC-based organization dedicated to performing, educating about, and preserving the music of all of the Americas, while embracing its mission with a commitment to social justice, equity, inclusion, and the equality of all cultures worldwide. 5BMF and Belongó co-present the Toomai String Quintet in back-to-back Interactive Performances for children in public schools across NYC. Winner of the 92nd Street Y’s 2007 Music Unlocked! Competition for emerging ensembles, the Toomai String Quintet is dedicated to creating engaging interactive concerts for audiences of all ages. 

The Toomai String Quintet makes its 5BMF debut on Sunday, April 27, 2025 at 3:00 p.m. at Bronx Music Hall. Devoted to performing music from the classical and contemporary repertoire while exploring and arranging music from around the world, the Toomai String Quintet performs a program of newly arranged works from their 2024 album of Brazilian music, Passos Brasileiros (Brazilian Steps). With original string arrangements of music spanning several Brazilian traditions — from classical pieces by Heitor Villa-Lobos and popular works by Milton Nascimento and Gilberto Gil, to songs by Dona Ivone Lara (the "queen of samba") and jazz legends Hermeto Pascoal and Léa Freire – the program reflects Toomai's long-standing dedication to expanding the Latin American chamber music repertoire.

Closing out the 2024-2025 season, Ruckus makes its 5BMF debut with a program of American works in May 2025. A collaborative baroque band with a visceral and playful approach to early music, Ruckus aims to fuse the early-music movement’s questing, creative spirit with the grit, groove, and jangle of American roots music, creating a unique sound of “rough-edged intensity” (New Yorker). This program explores American works and social dance instruction with the opportunity for audience participation.

Concert Information
Thursday, September 12, 2024 at 7:00 p.m.
Bronx Music Hall | 438 E 163rd St, Bronx, NY 10451
Friday, September 13, 2024 at 7:30 p.m.
Flushing Town Hall | 137-35 Northern Blvd | Flushing, NY 11354
Tickets: Available August 1, 2024
Link: https://5bmf.org/ 

Program TBA

Mike Block, cello/vocals
Christylez Bacon, beatbox/guitar/rhymes
Patricia Ligia, electric bass/pandeiro/vocals

Thursday, October 17, 2024 at 6:00 p.m.
Sugar Hill Museum of Art & Storytelling | 898 St Nicholas Ave | New York, NY 10032
Tickets: Available August 1, 2024
Link: https://5bmf.org/

“Fate and Yearning” - works by Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and Alvin Singleton.

Ivalas Quartet
     Reuben Kebede, violin
     Tiani Butts, violin
     Marcus Stevenson, viola
     Pedro Sanchez, cello

5BMF Presents THE NEW CONSORT in RETURN / REVIVE: A Meditation on Grief, Hope, and Community
Friday, November 1, 2024 at 7:30 p.m.
Brooklyn Art Haus | 24 Marcy Ave | Brooklyn, NY 11211
Tickets: Available August 1, 2024
Saturday, November 2, 2024 at 6:00 p.m.
Trinity Lutheran Church | 164 W 100th St | New York, NY 10025
Tickets: Available August 1, 2024
Link: https://5bmf.org/

Jonathan Woody - Lamentation 
Jonathan White -  Lamentations a5
Additional Works TBA

The New Consort

Sunday, February 2, 2025 at 4:00 p.m.
Brooklyn Public Library
Tickets: Available August 1, 2024
Link: https://5bmf.org/

Rhiannon Giddens - At the Purchaser’s Option, arr. Jacob Garchik 
Kinan Azmeh - Improvisation
Layale Chaker - new work
Kinan Azmeh - The Fence the Rooftop and the Distant Sea 
        I. Prologue
        II. Ammonite
        III. Monologue 
        IV. Dance
        V. Epilogue 
Komitas Vartabed - Armenian Folk Songs, arr. Sergei Aslamazian
        Yergink Ampel A (It's Cloudy)
        Haprpan (Festive Song)
        Shoushigi (For Shoushig)
        Echmiadzni Bar (Dance from Echmiadzin)
        Kaqavik (The Partridge)
Wang Lu - Between Air 
Michi Wiancko - Lullaby for the Transient 
Paquito d’Rivera - Preludio y Merengue 

Kinan Azmeh, clarinet
Aizuri Quartet
     Emma Frucht, violin
     Miho Saegusa, violin
     Brian Hong, viola
     Caleb van der Swaagh, cello

5BMF in Partnership with Orchestra of St. Luke’s: Five Borough Tour
Tuesday, March 25, 2025 at 7:00 p.m.
Hostos Community College | 500 Grand Concourse | Bronx, NY 10451
Tickets: Available August 1, 2024
Link: https://5bmf.org/

Chen Yi - Sound of the Five
Zhou Long - Chinese Folk Songs
Additional Works TBA

Orchestra of St. Luke’s String Quartet
Jeffrey Zeigler, cello
Liu Li, guqin
Chen Tao, xiao

Sunday, April 27, 2025 at 3:00 p.m. 
Bronx Music Hall | 438 E 163rd St | Bronx, NY 10451
Tickets: Available August 1, 2024
Link: https://5bmf.org/

Newly arranged Brazilian works TBA

Toomai String Quintet
     Emilie-Anne Gendron, violin
     Alex Fortes, violin
     George Meyer, viola
     Hamilton Berry, cello
     Andrew Roitstein, bass

5BMF Presents RUCKUS
May 2025
Venue TBA
Tickets: Available August 1, 2024
Link: https://5bmf.org/

American works TBA


About Biribá Union 
Biribá Union features Mike Block (Cello, Vocals), Christylez Bacon (Beatbox, Guitar, Rhymes), and Patricia Ligia (Electric Bass, Pandeiro, Vocals), forming a dynamic trio that blends original music with global influences, creating a fresh and accessible sound. Each member draws from their diverse backgrounds, such as Brazilian, Bluegrass, Jazz, Classical, Hip-Hop, Funk, and Pop styles, synthesizing them through original compositions and songs that highlight their improvisational spontaneity and high-energy stage presentation. https://www.biribaunion.com/ 

About Ivalas Quartet
Hailed by The Strad for playing with “tremendous heart and beauty,” the Ivalas Quartet has been changing the face of classical music since its inception at the University of Michigan in 2017. Dedicated to the celebration of BIPOC voices, Ivalas seeks to enhance the classical music world by consistently spotlighting past and present BIPOC composers such as Jessie Montgomery, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and Eleanor Alberga. 

The Ivalas Quartet had the pleasure of performing George Walker’s Lyric for Strings at Carnegie Hall in January of 2020. Later that year, they worked in collaboration with Walker’s son to program his String Quartet No. 1 with Friends of Chamber Music Denver and the Colorado Music Festival. In 2021, they created the first recording of Carlos Simon’s Warmth From Other Suns for string quartet under Lara Downes’ digital label Rising Sun Music.

Currently, The Ivalas Quartet is the Graduate Resident String Quartet at The Juilliard School in New York City, where they study under the Juilliard String Quartet. They were previously in residence at the University of Colorado-Boulder under the mentorship of the Takács Quartet. 

The Ivalas Quartet has been featured on various concert series, including Community Concerts at Second in Baltimore, Friends of Chamber Music Denver, Detroit’s WRCJ Classical Brunch, the inaugural Detroit Music Weekend, the Davidson College Concert Series in North Carolina, the Crested Butte Music Festival, the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival, the Great Lakes Center for the Arts, the Blue Sage Center for the Arts, and CU Presents concert series where the quartet performed alongside the Takács Quartet in 2020 and 2022. Ivalas won the first prize at the 2019 WDAV Young Chamber Musicians Competition in Davidson, NC, as well as the grand prize at the 2022 Coltman Chamber Music Competition in Austin, TX.

The quartet also keeps a busy calendar in the summer, performing in past seasons at the Bowdoin International Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Colorado Music Festival, Music In the Vineyards, Madeline Island Chamber Music, and the Anchorage Chamber Music Festival. This past summer Ivalas returned to the University of Michigan in a mentorship role, coaching student groups at Center Stage Strings.

Ivalas was named Caramoor’s 2022-23 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence and has been presenting multiple concerts at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts. In the fall of 2022, Ivalas appeared at the Austin Chamber Music Center, Newport Classical in Rhode Island, CU Presents Takács Series, Schneider Concerts in NY, and the MacPhail Center for Music in MN. In May of 2023, they presented their first full program at Carnegie Hall, titled First Light.

The members of the Ivalas Quartet have a shared dedication to their roles as educators. Through the Sphinx Organization, Ivalas has presented educational programming in the Metro Detroit area, with an emphasis on community engagement in schools with Black and Latinx communities. In Colorado, they developed a partnership with El Sistema Colorado and were a part of the Aspen Music Festival Musical Connections program. In their new home of New York City, the quartet is enjoying working with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center on their Chamber Music Beginnings program.

The Ivalas Quartet has nurtured students from the early stages of their musical journey to the collegiate level, with coaching experience including residencies at the University of Northern Iowa, the University of Central Arkansas, Madeline Island Chamber Music, and the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis. In New York City, they coach student groups at The Juilliard School. https://www.ivalasquartet.com/ 

About The New Consort
Winners of the American Prize in Chamber Music, The New Consort is a vocal chamber ensemble dedicated to exploring the roles that musical ritual and community can play in 21st-century lives. The group programs historical works for voices, then recontextualizes them for a modern audience; commissions and highlights significant new works that think deeply about vocal music’s legacy and future; and knits rituals and stories out of performances, marrying old and new wisdom about inspiring empathy, community, and awe. The New Consort brings the unique emotive power of vocal ensemble music out of its historical place in religious ceremony, using it instead to humanize the marginalized and illuminate thematic connections among creators in many genres of musical expression. 

Founded by baritone & Artistic Director Brian Mummert, The New Consort has been presented by organizations including Trinity College, Cambridge; Tippet Rise Art Center; Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue; Williams College; Sacred Music at Columbia University; Princeton University Chapel; The Bach Store, an NYC pop-up concert hall; Pegasus Early Music and New York State Baroque; and at concert halls, churches, and schools throughout the Northeast United States. Recent and upcoming commissions include projects by Rossa Crean, Jonathan Woody, Simon Frisch, Hope Littwin, Niccolo Seligmann, Ethan McGrath, and Sarah Meneely-Kyder. Members of The New Consort appear as soloists, choristers, and conductors with some of the world’s best-respected ensembles, but relish the opportunity to collaborate as chamber musicians.


About Aizuri Quartet
Praised by The Washington Post for “astounding” and “captivating” performances that draw from its notable “meld of intellect, technique and emotions,” the Aizuri Quartet was named the recipient of the 2022 Cleveland Quartet Award by Chamber Music America, and was awarded the Grand Prize at the 2018 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition.

The Quartet’s debut album, Blueprinting, was released by New Amsterdam Records to critical acclaim (“In a word, stunning” —I Care If You Listen), nominated for a 2019 GRAMMY Award and named one of NPR Music’s Best Classical Albums of 2018. Aizuri’s follow-up album, Earthdrawn Skies, was released in 2023 and praised by NPR as an album that “convincingly connects the dots in wildly diverse music stretching over eight centuries…arousing solemn contemplation, cosmic curiosity, folksy delight and introspective scrutiny.”

The Aizuri believes in an integrative approach to music-making, in which teaching, performing, writing, arranging, curation, and role in the community are all connected. Formed in 2012 and combining four distinctive musical personalities into a powerful collective, the 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. www.aizuriquartet.com 

About Kinan Azmeh
Hailed as a “virtuoso, intensely soulful" by The New York Times and "spellbinding" by the New Yorker. Syrian-born, Brooklyn-based genre-bending composer and clarinetist Kinan Azmeh has been touring the globe with great acclaim as a soloist, composer and improviser. He has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Daniel Barenboim, John McLaughlin, Aynur and Djivan Gasparian, among others. He leads his own bands Hewar and the Kinan Azmeh CityBand. He is a Silkroad ensemble artist with whom he won a Grammy in 2016. His recent orchestral album Uneven Sky with the Deutsches Symphony Orchestra Berlin has won Germany’s OpusKlassik Award in 2019.

Recent commissions include works for the Seattle Symphony, the New York Philharmonic and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

He is a graduate of The Juilliard School, the Damascus High Institute of Music, and Damascus University’s School of Electrical Engineering, Kinan holds a doctorate in music from the City University of New York.

His first opera, Songs For Days To Come was premiered in Germany in June 2022 to a great success. And he has recently been appointed to the National Council For the Arts on a nomination by President Biden. www.kinanazmeh.com 

About Toomai Quartet
The Toomai String Quintet is an ensemble devoted to playing a variety of musical traditions from around the world, creating its own string arrangements, and commissioning new works. The award-winning group has been engaging audiences across the US for over a decade, performing concerts in collaboration with presenters such as Carnegie Hall, 92Y, and The Juilliard School, among others. 

Central to Toomai's mission is the expansion of the Latin American repertoire for string ensemble. Toomai has arranged or commissioned over 20 works by Latin American composers. The ensemble also facilitates educational workshops that teach young people creative approaches to music through the lens of Cuban traditions; past residencies include Midori & Friends, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Institute, and Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, and California Arts Partnership Program. In 2018, Toomai released its debut album, Cuerdas Cubanas, featuring original arrangements of popular songs and beloved classical works from Cuba. In 2024, the group will release a new album of Brazilian music, Passos Brasileiros.

Formed in 2007 at The Juilliard School, the quintet is named after Rudyard Kipling’s short story “Toomai of the Elephants” in which a young boy journeys into the jungle to witness the dance of the wild elephants. The Toomai String Quintet aspires to cultivate a similar sense of curiosity and discovery by searching for diverse music and sharing it with its audience.

The quintet members are violinists Emilie-Anne Gendron and Alex Fortes, violist George Meyer, cellist Hamilton Berry, and bassist Andrew Roitstein. https://toomaiquintet.com/bios/ 

About Ruckus
Ruckus is a shapeshifting, collaborative baroque ensemble with a visceral and playful approach to early music. Described as “the world’s only period-instrument rock band” (San Francisco Classical Voice), Ruckus’ core is a continuo group, the baroque equivalent of a jazz rhythm section: guitars, keyboards, cello, bassoon and bass. The NYC-based ensemble aims to fuse the early-music movement’s questing, creative spirit with the grit, groove and jangle of American roots music, creating a unique sound of “rough-edged intensity” (New Yorker) that’s “achingly delicate one moment, incisive and punchy the next” (The New York Times). The group’s members are among the most creative and virtuosic performers in North American early music. 

Ruckus’ debut album, Fly the Coop, a collaboration with flutist Emi Ferguson, was Billboard’s #2 Classical album upon its release. Performances of Fly the Coop have been described as “a fizzing, daring display of personality and imagination” (New York Times). The Boston Musical Intelligencer describes the group as taking continuo playing to “not simply a new level, but a revelatory new dimension of dynamism altogether… an eruption of pure, pulsing hoedown joy.” 

Ruckus is the “house band” for Hudson Hall’s baroque opera productions, directed by R.B. Schlather. The New York Times reviewed the 2023 production of Handel’s Rodelinda, praising Ruckus’ unconducted playing as “mercurial, almost improvisatory spirit that responded to the drama in real time.” The ensemble made its Ojai Festival debut in 2022, performing a wide range of music: from Bach, to the improvisational scores of Roscoe Mitchell and George Lewis, to a recital featuring Anthony Roth Costanzo, and an original opera by bassist Doug Balliett. Recent highlights include debuts at the Shriver Concert Hall Series in Baltimore, Boston’s Celebrity Series, the Caramoor Festival, and NYC’s Town Hall. 

Upcoming projects include a co-commission of a large-scale work by pioneering artist and NEA Jazz Master Roscoe Mitchell as part of a Bach & Bird Festival alongside the Immanuel Wilkins Quartet, produced by The Metropolis Ensemble. In 2024 Ruckus and violinist Keir GoGwilt will premiere The Edinburgh Rollick, bringing to life tunes from the Gow Collections of Strathspey Reels, Books 1 and 2 (1784, 1788).

About Five Boroughs Music Festival
Since 2007, Five Boroughs Music Festival (5BMF) has brought virtuosic chamber music performances of the highest caliber to every borough of NYC, cultivating new audiences for the genre and encouraging music lovers to look beyond Manhattan for outstanding performances. Lauded as “imaginative” by The New York Times, “enterprising” by The New Yorker, and “vital” by WQXR’s Operavore blog, 5BMF’s commitment to musical outreach and diverse programming has distinguished it as a standout presence in the New York City arts community from its earliest days.

5BMF’s artist roster of over 600 individual performers and ensembles is comprised of talented emerging artists and distinguished musicians alike, representing a diverse range of musical genres and styles. Its more than 70 venues are just as eclectic and have included performing arts spaces, cultural centers, and historic New York City landmarks such as Federal Hall, Pregones Theater, Flushing Town Hall, King Manor Museum, Brooklyn Historical Society, the Alice Austen House, and the Staten Island Museum, to name merely a few.

As champions of new music, 5BMF has commissioned over 70 composers and presented world premieres of their works all across New York City, most notably the borough-wide tours of its quinquennial commissioning project, the Five Borough Songbook Volumes I, II and III. 5BMF’s outreach initiatives continue to expand every year and have included program-related interactive lectures and discussions, public masterclasses with world-renowned performing artists, and free public programming. Learn more at www.5bmf.org.

Images at the top of the release courtesy of the artists

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