Jasper String Quartet, founder and presenter
Winner of the prestigious CMA Cleveland Quartet Award, Philadelphia's Jasper String Quartet is the Professional Quartet in Residence at Temple University's Center for Gifted Young Musicians.
The Jaspers have been hailed as “sonically delightful and expressively compelling” (The Strad) and "powerful" (New York Times). "The Jaspers... match their sounds perfectly, as if each swelling chord were coming out of a single, impossibly well-tuned organ, instead of four distinct instruments." (New Haven Advocate)
The Jaspers swept through the competition circuit while in school, winning the Grand Prize and the Audience Prize in the Plowman Chamber Music Competition, the Grand Prize at the Coleman Competition, First Prize at Chamber Music Yellow Springs, and the Silver Medal at the 2008 and 2009 Fischoff Chamber Music Competitions.
The Quartet was the 2010-12 Ensemble-in-Residence at Oberlin Conservatory and, in conjunction with Astral Artists, was awarded a 2012 Chamber Music America grant through its Residency Partnership Program for work in Philadelphia schools. In 2016, the Quartet won the Fischoff Educator Prize, given to a group who successfully incorporates educational work into their career.
Programming and Jasper Chamber Concerts
Critics and audiences commend the Jasper String Quartet’s “programming savvy” (clevelandclassical.com) and they have performed throughout the United States and in Canada, England, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway and Panama.The Quartet programs pieces emotionally significant to its members ranging from Haydn and Beethoven through Berg, Ligeti, and living composers. With Jasper Chamber Concerts, the Quartet is delighted to bring this programming to Philadelphia four times a year.
Patrick Castillo leads a multifaceted career as a composer, performer, writer, and educator. His music has been described as “restrained and reflective but brimming with a variety of texture and sound that draws you into its world” (I Care If You Listen) and has been presented at festivals and venues throughout the United States and internationally, including the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Schubert Club, Birdfoot Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, June in Buffalo, the Santa Fe New Music Festival, Queens New Music Festival, Hot Air Music Festival, National Sawdust, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Bavarian Academy of Music (Munich), the Nuremberg Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Havana Contemporary Music Festival.
Recent season highlights include the world premieres of Music for Four, by Hotel Elefant at St. Bartholomew’s Church (New York, NY); Tria Peccata, by the Experiential Orchestra at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center (Washington, DC); like the tide…, by Areon Flutes at the Center for New Music (San Francisco, CA); and Living is easy with eyes closed, by Quodlibet Ensemble (New York, NY); as well as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center premiere of Incident for violin and piano, performed by Alexander Sitkovetsky and Wu Qian. In 2017, Patrick Castillo appeared as Composer in Residence at the Birdfoot Festival (New Orleans, LA).
Patrick Castillo is variously active as an explicator of music to a wide range of listeners. He has provided program and liner notes for numerous concert series and recording companies: most prolifically for Music@Menlo, a chamber music festival and institute in Silicon Valley for which he served as Artistic Administrator for more than ten years. In this latter capacity, he has led a variety of pre-concert discussion events; designed outreach presentations for middle and high school students; and authored, narrated, and produced the widely acclaimed AudioNotes series of listener’s guides to the chamber music literature. Patrick Castillo has been a guest lecturer at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, for whose Late Night Rose series he serves as host; Fordham University; the University of Georgia; the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; the Chamber Music Festival of the Bluegrass (Kentucky); String Theory at the Hunter (Chattanooga, TN); and ChamberFest Cleveland. From 2010 to 2013, he served as Senior Director of Artistic Planning of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. He is founding composer and managing director of Third Sound; in 2016, he was appointed Executive Director of Hotel Elefant.
Patrick Castillo holds degrees in composition and sociology from Vassar College, where his teachers included Lois V Vierk, Annea Lockwood, and Richard Wilson. He has also participated in master classes with John Harbison, Alvin Lucier, Roger Reynolds, and Charles Wuorinen. While at Vassar, Patrick Castillo served as composer-in-residence for the Mahagonny Ensemble, a collective of performers specializing in twentieth-century music. His Requiem aeternam for mixed chorus and chamber ensemble, composed for the Mahagonny, was awarded the 2001 Jean Slater Edson Prize. He has also been the recipient of the Brian M. Israel Prize, awarded by the Society for New Music for his chamber work Lola.
The Quality of Mercy, an album of Patrick Castillo’s vocal chamber music featuring mezzo-soprano Abigail Fischer, has been praised as “affecting and sensitively orchestrated… [a] gorgeous, masterfully crafted canvas” (Cleveland Classical), and is available on innova Recordings.
Emily Cooley is a Philadelphia-based composer of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music whose work has been described as “masterfully written and orchestrated” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and “a beautiful delicacy” (Vermont Today). Frequently in dialogue with works of contemporary fiction and critical theory, her music questions conventions of narrative, re-imagines emotional expression, and explores the dynamics of power and vulnerability.
Cooley's orchestral music has been performed by the Nashville, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Louisville, Milwaukee, Berkeley, Sioux City, and Eastern Connecticut symphony orchestras; the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra; and numerous university and conservatory orchestras. Her work Assemble, for multitrack cello, was recently recorded by Ashley Bathgate and will be released on Bathgate's forthcoming album, 8 Track.
Also active as a concert producer and curator, Cooley is a founding member and the current publicity director for Kettle Corn New Music, which produces a year-round series of new music concerts in New York City, hailed for creating “that ideal listening environment that so many institutions aim for: relaxed, yet allowing for concentration” (New York Times). Cooley is also a frequent collaborator with incarcerated musicians at SCI-Graterford in Pennsylvania, and she held the Community Artist Fellowship at the Curtis Institute of Music in 2017-18.
Born in 1990 in Milwaukee, WI, Cooley holds degrees from Yale University, the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music, and the Curtis Institute of Music. She has been in residence at Yaddo, Copland House, and the Avaloch Farm Music Institute, and a fellow at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, and the Norfolk New Music Workshop. In 2015, Cooley received a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her mentors include John K. Boyle, Kathryn Alexander, Andrew Norman, Stephen Hartke, Jennifer Higdon, David Ludwig, and Mary Javian.
Called “exquisite” by The New York Times and “a marvel” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, American composer and conductor Scott Ordway is known for his boundary-defying, mixed media projects and pieces with “evocative soundscapes and velvet harmonies” (Boston Classical Review). He is Assistant Professor of Composition at Rutgers University, a 2017–19 Fellow at American Opera Projects in New York City, and was previously a member of the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Ordway’s work is passionately multidisciplinary, fusing music with original text, video, digital soundscape, and experimental theater to explore a diverse array of contemporary themes including landscape and ecology, architecture, protest and revolution, and the lives of cities.
Over the past decade, Ordway has composed a series of large-scale works that bring together multiple artistic disciplines and humanistic themes. Many of these pieces explore the intersection of music and literature, with the composer working in English, French, Spanish, and German to create adaptations, collages, translations, and original text for music. The works showcase the composer’s desire to unearth unusual texts and rare musical gems as source material, as well as his interest in the architectural and acoustic properties of the physical performance space.
Ordway’s critically-acclaimed, crowd-interactive Tonight We Tell the Secrets of the World is one such example. A “whisper play” commissioned by the Penn Museum of Archeology & Anthropology with support from the American Composers Forum, it is written for string ensemble, soprano voice, alto saxophone, whispered voices, and light. Using a cueing system of colored lights, the work asks audience members to whisper secrets of love, death, and god taken from the writings of various ancient cultures, creating an ethereal tapestry of richly textured stereophonic sounds. At its premiere, The Broad Street Review remarked that “the work resonated with humanist spirituality, haunting the imagination long after the last echo died away.”
In recent seasons, he has collaborated with orchestras, ensembles, and soloists throughout the United States and internationally, including the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood New Fromm Players (Boston), Norbotten NEO (Sweden), So Percussion (NYC), Boston Musica Viva, SOLI Chamber Ensemble (Texas), and the Momenta, Arneis, and Daedalus String Quartets. His work has been featured at Harvard and Yale Universities, as well as at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where he was visiting faculty in Composition in 2018. In 2017, he was a guest conductor with Now Hear This, the Peabody Contemporary Music Ensemble.
Recent international collaborations include: a staged production of his work Detroit at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin; a commercial recording for NAXOS Recordsfeaturing principal players from the Hong Kong Philharmonic; performances at the Beijing Modern Music Festival and Hong Kong Arts Festival; a multicultural choral work based on research in Mexico City; and an in-progress opera on the Arab Spring, with an original libretto by the Algerian author, scholar, and journalist Meryem Belkaïd, which will be workshopped and presented through American Opera Projects.
Prior to his tenure-track appointment at Rutgers University, Ordway held teaching positions at the University of Pennsylvania, as a Benjamin Franklin Doctoral Fellow in Music, and at the University of Oregon, as a Graduate Teaching Fellow in Composition. From 2013–14, he was Visiting Assistant Professor at Bates College. And from 2014–17, he was a member of the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Ordway earned his Ph.D. in 2013 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he received the Hilda K. Nitzche and David Halstead Prizes in Composition. He also trained at the University of Oregon (M.M.), University of Puget Sound (B.A., Music & English Literature), and in Europe at both the Freie Universität Berlin and Accademia Chigiana (Siena). His primary composition teachers included Samuel Adler, Azio Corghi, Robert Hutchinson, Robert Kyr, James Primosch, Jay Reise, Veljo Tormis, and Anna Weesner. He studied conducting with David Hayes and Hirvo Surva.
Joan Tower is widely regarded as one of the most important American composers living today. During a career spanning more than fifty years, she has made lasting contributions to musical life in the United States as composer, performer, conductor, and educator. Her works have been commissioned by major ensembles, soloists, and orchestras, including the Emerson, Tokyo, and Muir quartets; soloists Evelyn Glennie, Carol Wincenc, David Shifrin, Paul Neubauer, and John Browning; and the orchestras of Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Nashville, Albany NY, and Washington DC among others. Tower was the first composer chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission of sixty-five orchestras. Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony recorded Made in America in 2008 (along with Tambor and Concerto for Orchestra).
The album collected three Grammy awards: Best Contemporary Classical Composition, Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance. Nashville’s latest all-Tower recording includes Stroke, which received a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. In 1990 she became the first woman to win the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Silver Ladders, a piece she wrote for the St. Louis Symphony where she was Composer-in-Residence from 1985-88. Other residencies with orchestras include a 10-year residency with the Orchestra of St. Luke's (1997-2007) and the Pittsburgh Symphony (2010-11). She was the Albany Symphony’s Mentor Composer partner in the 2013-14 season. Tower was cofounder and pianist for the Naumburg Award winning Da Capo Chamber Players from 1970-85. She has received honorary doctorates from Smith College, the New England Conservatory, and Illinois State University.
With an eclectic palette that draws elements from jazz, rock, American folk and other contemporary musical spaces, Shelley Washington (b. 1991) seeks to tell memorable sonic stories that comment on current and past social narratives, both personal and observed. Her music has been described as "slightly wild, slightly mysterious” while having the ability to "powerfully [tell] stories" (Peter Alexander).
Shelley is a 2018 recipient of the Jerome Fund for New Music Award and will write a new work for the trio Bearthoven for their upcoming season. In the early fall of 2017, she embarked on her first tour with the Schiele String Quartet to Savannah, Georgia, where her string quartets MIDDLEGROUND and SAY were performed throughout the city. She was also able to work with the students of the Kaufman Music Center’s Face the Music program on her string quartet, MIDDLEGROUND, in 2017. Her relentless baritone saxophone duo, BIG Talk, recorded by herself and saxophonist Dr. José Cabán, was recently released by Brooklyn-based label, People | Places | Records. This was her first widely distributed work available on multiple streaming platforms. Her piece, The Farthest, for choir and chamber ensemble was commissioned by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus for their “Silent Voices” series and premiered in April of 2018. Shelley is also an active performer, and performs regularly as a vocalist and solo saxophonist, primarily wielding the baritone saxophone. She has performed and recorded with ensembles throughout Kansas City, Des Moines, Brooklyn and New York City- anything from Baroque to Screamo. She is also a founding member of the composer collective, Kinds of Kings, which celebrated their debut concert in Tampa, Florida in partnership with Terroir New Music and the Bake n' Babes in March of 2018.
Washington holds degrees from Truman State University; a Bachelor of Arts in Music focusing on saxophone, and a Master of Arts in Education. She completed the Master of Music in Theory and Composition from NYU Steinhardt in 2017, where she studied with Dr. Joseph Church, Julia Wolfe, and Caroline Shaw. As an educator, she has taught with the New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers program, and also teaches budding composers in the Young Composers and Improvisers Workshop. Shelley is also the Artistic Director for the Noel Pointer Foundation, located in Brooklyn, NY. In the fall of 2018 she will begin studies towards the PhD in Music Composition at Princeton University.
Recipient of an artist fellowship from the Independence Foundation awarded to a small number of exceptional artists in the region, violist David Yang has been described as "lithe and expressive" in the Strad Magazine and called “a conduit for music;” the all-around renaissance man has forged a career that is a unique blend of performing, composition, coaching, and storytelling. David has been heard in collaboration with members of the Borromeo, Brentano, Cassatt, Lark, Miro, Pro Arte and Tokyo String Quartets and Apple Hill Chamber Players, Trio Solisti, and Cavatina and Eroica Piano Trios. Concert highlights include concertos in Canada and Great Britain along with recitals in Italy, the UK and throughout the USA. As an active advocate of new music he has premiered dozens of works. Currently Artistic Director of the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival and Director of Chamber Music at the University of Pennsylvania, in his role as leader of the storytelling music troupe Auricolae, he developed a residency program to foster the creation of new compositions by public school students in Philadelphia. He is a member of string trio Ensemble Epomeo based in the United Kingdom. Their premiere recording, "The Complete String Trios of Hans Gal and Hans Krasa," was designated “critic’s choice” in Grammophone Magazine ("A splendid disc I cannot get enough of"). Their second CD of the music of Schnittke, Penderecki, and Kurtag was released in Fall 2014 ("...remarkable intensity and elegant assurance throughout... bristles with detail -- there are finely balanced chords moving from glowing diatonicism to harsh dissonance, and carefully shaped melodies with beautifully expressive vibrato -- yet they never lose sight of the work's broader architecture, nor of its poignant, increasingly bleak mood" -- The Strad Magazine). The release of their third recording, Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht, received universal acclaim ("an impressive recording that exposes many details of the score that usually remain obscure" --Gavin Dixon).