The JACK Quartet

Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 7:30pm, live-streamed from Merkin Hall, Kaufman Music Center

UI String Quartet Residency Program in collaboration with the Center for New Music


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String Quartet No. 2 (2021)

“poppies bursting into bloom in the wind and rain”

Hongwei Cai

        Poppies, tied deeply to sleep, peace, and death, has long been a symbol to fallen soldiers. My second string quartet, “poppies bursting into bloom in the wind and rain,” is a response to Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae’s war poem In Flanders Fields. May the world be at peace forever and may you and my heart be at peace forever. The work is dedicated to those spirits who have suffered from war.
        Hongwei Cai (b. 1988), a Chinese composer and pianist, is currently a Ph.D. candidate in music composition at the University of Iowa. He has composed for various ensembles and has been active as both a composer and a pianist in the Midwest Graduate Music Consortium, the Midwest Composers’ Symposium, and the Exchange of Midwest Collegiate Composers. Hongwei Cai received his M.M. in composition at Oklahoma City University and a B.A. in composition and theory from Shenyang Conservatory of Music (China). His teachers have included David Gompper, Josh Levine, Edward Knight, and Shenglin Jiang (China).

“Seung-mu” (Buddhist Dance) for String Quartet

Sanggeun Choi

        “Seung-mu” is a traditional dance for Korean Buddhist nuns. It was originally for a Buddhist ritual ceremony and increasingly developed to a solo dance by professional dancers. The dance has a distinct characteristic which is the mixture of flowing movements and stillness. A dancer wears long and white sleeves to express those movements with a breathtaking pause, creating a stirring soul. Those subtle nuances are expressed with unconventional textures and timbres from a string quartet.
        Sanggeun Choi is a Korean composer. His primary identity for music is based on Korean traditional musical themes and materials, which shows an aesthetic sense in Korean music, using Western musical techniques. Sanggeun is currently pursuing his Ph.D. degree in music composition at the University of Iowa with Sivan Cohen Elias and David Gompper. He holds the Master of Music degree in composition from Mannes School of Music The New School in New York City where he studied with Paul Moravec.

Rondo, warmly dedicated to the JACK

A. Emrich

        This piece embodies many different feelings one can experience through life. I hope you will enjoy listening to the musical laughters, cries, and dreams that appear throughout this Rondo.
        A. Emich is currently a senior majoring in composition at the University of Iowa, and has written music for classical ensembles, dance, and theatre, with a first electro-acoustic composition premiered in December 2020.

Light and Dust

“Harmonize your inner light, and become one with the dust.” - Tao Te Ching: Chapter 56

Wenxin Li

        Wenxin Li is a native of Chongqing, China, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. degree in composition at the University of Iowa, studying with Jean-Francois Charles and Sivan Cohen Elias. Li’s music has been featured in a variety of festivals, including Aspen Music Festival and School, Composers Conference, TURN UP Multimedia Festival, National Student Electronic Music Event, Midwest Graduate Music Consortium, SCI Student National Conference, FSC New Music Festival, Midwest Composers Symposium, and Caroga Lake Music Festival. Her music has also been performed by JACK Quartet, Accroche Note, Western Percussion Ensemble, and Sound Out Loud Ensemble. Li received her master’s degree in composition from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and bachelor’s degree from Sichuan Conservatory of Music.

Mono//Logic III

Matt A. Mason

I. Auld Lang Syne
II. The Bird Feeder
III. Champagne Before Midnight

I: Every year, I promise to be better and every year I am made a fool.

II: I don’t much care for birds.

III: 3..2..1. Happy New Year, I suppose. Sorry that I couldn’t wait.

        Matt Mason is a composer, pianist, and educator from Illinois. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Iowa and holds a Master of Music in piano performance and music composition from Butler University. His compositions represent an intersection of poetry, theater, and music creating a psychogramm where melodic, harmonic, and intervallic elements are dictated by tense constellations and brooding undertones. Matt’s current work emphasizes research into dissociation, mental health, nostalgia, and ethics in contemporary performance.


Ramin Roshandel

        verged is an attempt to explore the harmonic capabilities of Persian music in an abstract way.
        Ramin Roshandel’s compositional work is based around incorporating “experience” as a fundamental concept through a non-experimental approach in performance. Considering phenomena such as instability, cultural identity, and communicational language on one hand, and being inspired by Iranian music microtones as a setār (an Iranian instrument) player on the other, has led him to consider indeterminate, improvisatory, and abstract structures in his music to contrast or converge with post- or non-tonal forms.