Tesla Quartet: Musica Universalis

Tesla Quartet: Musica Universalis

Sunday, May 5, 2024 • 3PM

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Program Notes: 


Though free to think and act, we are held together, like the stars in the firmament, with ties inseparable. We
cannot see these ties, but we can feel them.

–Nikola Tesla

From the moment our ancestors first gazed up at the night sky, humanity has been fascinated with the heavens. The idea that the movements of heavenly bodies created universal harmonies—musica universalis—was both a scientific and spiritual belief propounded by great thinkers from Pythagoras to Keppler. While composing the slow movement to his String Quartet in E Minor, Beethoven is said to have been “contemplating the music of the spheres.” With Moonshot, Alistair Coleman commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, charting the journey from Earth and back. In Celeste Forma, Bobby Ge explores the birth of stars, from nebulous collections of space dust to the violent and energized phases of development that ultimately end up as a fully-formed star. Using the concepts of orbit and circular motion, Garth Knox employs unconventional and original instrumental techniques to create unique sound worlds in his quartet, Satellites. Finally, in Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector, Terry Riley explores the mysterious universe beyond our waking consciousness. The musical selections on this program will be accompanied by poetry about outer space, read by members of the quartet.

Dubbed “technically superb” by The Strad, the Tesla Quartet brings refinement and prowess to both new and established repertoire. The quartet, which has won top prizes in numerous international competitions, was formed at The Juilliard School in 2008 and quickly established itself as one of the most promising young ensembles in New York. In 2018, the Tesla Quartet released its debut album of Haydn, Ravel and Stravinsky quartets on the Orchid Classics label to critical acclaim. BBC Music Magazine awarded the disc a double 5-star rating and featured it as the “Chamber Choice” for the month of December.


Garth Knox: Satellites
Alistair Coleman: Moonshot
Terry Riley: Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector
Ludwig van Beethoven: Molto adagio from String Quartet in E minor, “Razumovsky”
Bobby Ge: Celeste Forma


This performance is supported in part by the Maryland State Arts Council and The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation.