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Del Sol String Quartet • Ring of Fire
Music by Kui Dong, Chinary Ung, Jack Body, Gabriela Lena Frank, Hyo-shin Na, Zhou Long, John Adams, Peter Sculthorpe, and an improvisation by the Del Sol String Quartet

Home to earthquake swarms and volcanic eruptions, the countries of the Pacific Rim also produce some of the world's most groundbreaking composers. San Francisco's Del Sol String Quartet leads an inspiring seven-country tour. 20-page booklet essay by Charles Amirkhanian with photos.

Read Gramophone Magazine review here.

Ring of Fire CD
OM CD 1016-2

Track List (click Audio Players to hear selected excerpts)

1. Kui Dong (1966, China)
"Spring" from Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Suite (2006) 5:59 †


2. Chinary Ung (1942, Cambodia)
Spiral X: "In Memoriam" for amplified string quartet (2007) 11:38 †


3. Jack Body (1944, New Zealand)
Epicycle (1989; rev. 2005) 13:14 †


4. Gabriela Lena Frank (1972, USA)
"Chasqui" from Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout 3:16


5. Hyo-shin Na (1959, South Korea)
Song of the Beggars (1998) 4:53 †

6. Zhou Long (1953, China)
Song of the Ch'in (1982) 8:59

7. John Adams (1947, USA)
"Toot Nipple" from John's Book of Alleged Dances (1994) 1:22

8. Peter Sculthorpe (1929, Australia)
"Yearning" from String Quartet No. 16 (2005) 5:14 †


9. Del Sol String Quartet
What Remains (Improvisation, 2007) 4:11 †


Total Time: 59:31
† world premiere recording


DEL SOL AND THE RING OF FIRE
by Charles Amirkhanian

It is only fitting that a string quartet founded by players based in San Francisco, California, might have a character all its own. This is particularly true of the adventurous Del Sol String Quartet, whose passionate advocacy for composers of the Western Hemisphere and of the countries of the Pacific Rim has generated a burgeoning fan base in recent years.

“Of the sun” is the name of the group, and the daylight here is recognizably different for visiting Europeans who live at home with endless weeks of overcast gray. Weatherwise, we’re not in Haydn’s Vienna, birthplace of the
string quartet, anymore. Here the light is clear and strong and the weight of culture tilts toward Asia rather than the courts of the Esterházys. Lou Harrison, a wonderfully original composer who spent the majority of his life in California, often referred to his youth in San Francisco. “I was brought up on Chinese opera—you could hear it free in San Francisco’s Chinatown and it was much more familiar and comfortable to me than European opera.”

Here in California the late Henry Cowell started his “New Music Society of California,” producing concerts and publishing scores of ultra-modern contemporary music beginning in the mid-1920s before becoming the teacher
of both John Cage and Lou Harrison. And though both those two now-influential composers had brief periods of study with Arnold Schoenberg in Los Angeles, a more dominant influence for them was an appreciation of world music and global culture that emerged, in part, out of their contact with the inquisitive Mr. Cowell. Music of Indonesia, Japan, China, Southeast Asia, South America and the Pacific Islands now are accepted influences in classical music and have changed its face utterly. The ring of fire—the constellation of volcanoes that rim the Pacific Ocean—therefore is emblematic of the evolution of the way we hear here.

San Francisco also is the birthplace of minimalist or repetitive music with its embrace of tonality, steady pulses and microscopic examination of simple musical gestures. The early work of LaMonte Young, Steve Reich, Terry
Riley and others blossomed here before establishing itself as the longest-lived movement in classical music over the past 100 years. In the course of its sweep it fostered one of the world’s most-loved composers, John Adams. These are some of the musical influences you will find in the work on this compilation. Although influences from the more chromatic world of the Second Viennese School certainly are to be found in the Western U.S. and around the Pacific Rim countries, they never achieved the dominance they did in Europe or in the Eastern United States.

Our composers in this compilation represent the People’s Republic of China, Cambodia, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea, Australia and the San Francisco Bay Area. They are a remarkable group of individuals who have brilliantly
mined their native cultures to widen the expression of their music. We are pleased to call them ”other minds.”

Del Sol String Quartet
Kate Stenberg, violin
Rick Shinozaki, violin
Charlton Lee, viola
Hannah Addario-Berry, cello

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