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JACK Quartet


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In little more than a decade, New York’s JACK Quartet has become one of the world’s most important catalysts for and purveyors of new music. Dubbed “master musicians” by The Globe & Mail and “superheroes of the new music world” by The Boston Globe, the JACK has collaborated with the likes of Steve Reich, Caroline Shaw, John Zorn, and John Luther Adams. Fearlessly dedicated to pushing the repertoire’s boundaries, they have performed on a raft in the middle of Central Park Lake, and even in complete darkness, with the Quartet surrounding the audience, as when they performed the Third String Quartet of Austrian composer Georg Fredrich Haas at Duke in 2012. The JACK Quartet begins the second year of its two-year Duke Performances residency with a new Haas work, the Ninth Quartet, also written to be performed in the dark. When Haas first heard the JACK play his work, he recognized the ensemble’s extraordinary ability to play music written for just intonation, a system of tuning in which intervals are more “pure” than the more tempered tuning of Western music. Each pitch is expressed as a fraction, related by a constant ratio to a constant fundamental, and vibrating at a set number of cycles per second. Haas composed his ecstatic new quartet for the JACK; the group premiered it in Lisbon in 2017. Combining extended passages of radiant drone with microtonal melodies, it is a perfect showcase for Haas’ compositional rigor and the JACK’s technical clarity. In Durham, as specified by the composer, the JACK Quartet once again turns out the lights — this time at the Durham Fruit & Produce Company.

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