Originally commissioned by the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts for the Jasper String Quartet, the Bennington Chamber Music Conference, and Composers’ Forum of the East, Peculiar Strokes is a collection on miniatures for string quartet exploring different bow strokes.
Here’s what Andrew Norman had to say about the piece:
What I tried to do was to write the most “un-quartety” quartet I could imagine. Where so many quartets think big, with sprawling, formally complex movements and large-scale rhetorical arcs, mine aims small, with seven bite-size morsels of the blink-and-you-miss-them variety…For me there is something magical about the wide range of sonic possibilities available through the manipulation of the smallest physical variables–the balance of weight in the fingers of the right hand, the placement of the bow a fraction of an inch closer or farther from the bridge. Each of these small changes opens up a whole world of unique sounds, and each of the movements of this piece explores one of those worlds using a different, slightly peculiar, off-the-beaten-path bow stroke.
About Andrew Norman
Andrew Norman is a Los Angeles-based composer of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music. Recently praised as “the leading American composer of his generation” by the Los Angeles Times, “one of the most gifted and respected composers of his generation” by the New York Times, and the “master of a uniquely dazzling and mercurial style” by the New Yorker, Andrew is fast becoming one of the most sought after voices in American classical music. Andrew’s work draws on an eclectic mix of sounds and performance practices and is deeply influenced by his training as a pianist and violist as well as his lifelong love of architecture. Andrew is increasingly interested in story-telling in music, and specifically in the ways non-linear, narrative-scrambling techniques from movies and video games might intersect with traditional symphonic forms. Andrew was recently named Musical America’s 2017 Composer of the Year. He is the recipient of the 2004 Jacob Druckman Prize, the 2005 ASCAP Nissim and Leo Kaplan Prizes, the 2006 Rome Prize, the 2009 Berlin Prize and a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship. He joined the roster of Young Concert Artists as Composer in Residence in 2008 and held the title “Komponist für Heidelberg” for the 2010-2011 season.
Andrew is a committed educator who enjoys helping people of all ages explore and create music. He has written pieces to be performed by and for the young, and has held educational residencies with various institutions across the country. Andrew joined the faculty of the USC Thornton School of Music in 2013, and he is thrilled to serve as the director of the L.A. Phil’s Composer Fellowship Program for high school composers.
About Argus Quartet
Praised for playing with “supreme melodic control and total authority” and “decided dramatic impact” (Calgary Herald), the Argus Quartet has quickly emerged as one of today’s most dynamic and versatile young ensembles, winning First Prize at both the 2017 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition, and the 2017 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition.
Argus is dedicated to reinvigorating the audience-performer relationship through innovative concerts and diverse programming. The Quartet’s core mission is to connect with and build up a community of engaged listeners, with the strong belief that today’s ensembles can honor the storied chamber music traditions of our past while forging a new path forward. In that spirit, the ensemble’s repertoire includes not just master works of the chamber music canon, but also a wide range of pieces by living composers.
As passionate advocates for the music of our time, Argus has commissioned new quartets by Donald Crockett, composer and GRAMMY nominee Eric Guinivan, the 2014 Hermitage Prize winner Thomas Kotcheff, and Guggenheim Fellowship recipient Juri Seo. The Quartet has received grants from Chamber Music America, the Koussvitzy Music Foundation, and the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in support of their commissioning efforts.