The Fry Street Quartet is slated to perform its first concert of the fall 2021 semester next Monday, Oct. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Russell/Wanlass Performance Hall. The concert features the world premiere of Canções da America by Brazilian-American composer Clarice Assad. The piece was commissioned by Utah State University’s Caine College of the Arts (CCA) for the Fry Street Quartet (FSQ).
A powerful communicator renowned for her musical scope and versatility, Assad is a significant artistic voice in the classical, world music, pop and jazz genres. Assad is a prolific Grammy-nominated composer, with more than 70 works to her credit. Her work has been commissioned by internationally renowned organizations, festivals and artists, and published in France and the United States by Virtual Artists Collective Publishing. A sought-after performer, Assad is a celebrated pianist and inventive vocalist who has released seven solo albums and appeared on or had her works performed on another 30.
“We worked with Clarice back in 2013 when the San Jose Chamber Orchestra commissioned her to write a piece for us for string quartet and orchestra,” Anne Francis Bayless, cello in the FSQ and professional practice professor of cello and chamber music in the CCA, said. “When we met, we all instantly felt a connection. We loved her energy and incredibly colorful and energetic compositional voice.”
Francis Bayless said that the FSQ had so much fun with Assad that they started talking about having her write a quartet on that very trip and have been working towards it ever since. The FSQ feels fortunate to have such supportive college and department and are excited that the commission was funded in part by the CCA.
“Clarice’s voice is very unique and so compelling,” Francis Bayless said. “She is heavily influenced by her native Brazilian music, and it’s honestly like it just flows out of her. Seeing and hearing her sing is one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever experienced!”
For this quartet, Assad chose to explore music not only from Brazil, but also some of the countries that border it, so it includes influences from Peru and Paraguay, as well as Argentina. Some of these dance forms, like the tango, will be familiar to the audience, but will be realized in Assad’s unique voice. Francis Bayless says the audience will hear music that doesn’t necessarily follow a traditional harmonic framework, but has a recognizable and very compelling rhythmic profile.
Monday’s concert also includes pieces by Beethoven and Brahms, and special guest Brant Bayless, the Sue and Walker Wallace Principal Viola of the Utah Symphony. He regularly performs at the Grand Teton Music Festival and has appeared as principal violist with summer music festivals including the Mainly Mozart Festival, Bellingham Festival of Music and Strings in the Mountains. Formerly a member of the Arcata Quartet, Bayless continues to enjoy chamber musical collaborations on the NOVA and Intermezzo series in Salt Lake City. Brant’s viola is attributed to Milanese maker Luigi Bajoni from 1858.
Tickets for the Fry Street Quartet Concert are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and non-CCA USU faculty & staff, and free for USU students, grades 3-12, and CCA faculty and staff. Purchase tickets at the CCA Box Office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in room L101 of the Chase Fine Arts Center on the USU Campus, by calling 435-797-8022, or by visiting cca.usu.edu.