About this project
If we reach $17,000 by the conclusion of this campaign, we will be able to include on CD3: Ben Johnston’s performance of Quietness.
Set to the text of the Sufi mystic poet Rumi, the piece was composed by Ben for speaker/baritone and string quartet. Ben sat down in a studio with us on his 84th birthday, somewhat as a lark, and sang this little masterpiece, which proves that he indeed hears these harmonies clearly in his head, and can give expressive voice to the emotional nuances he intends.
We have the raw tracks from that morning, and would like to get a polished version of this session ready for our upcoming April release date. Presenting this poignant little gem to the world on our third and final disc is an historical opportunity. If you'd like to hear the man himself, please consider contributing to this further goal. Many thanks to those who have already given!
“Ben Johnston's got to be some kind of genius.” PHILIP CLARK - GRAMOPHONE, July 2011
“…and, apropos the Kepler Quartet's genius playing, they hit notes few other groups could even hear.” ibid.
Kepler Quartet is in the final push to finish a monumental 14-year recording project: THE TEN STRING QUARTETS OF AMERICAN MICROTONAL COMPOSER BEN JOHNSTON. With the help of a $15,000, dollar-for-dollar matching grant, the third and final CD is slated for an April 2016 release on the New World Records label. Although much has been accomplished, important work remains. We need your help to finish.
The Ben Johnston string quartet cycle is one of the pinnacles of the chamber music canon. Until recently, few have attempted these works.
The Kepler Quartet changed that forever. After the release of our first disc, young ensembles from California to Berlin began performing Ben’s long-neglected works. Five years later, the second CD was nominated for BBC Music Magazine's Chamber Disc of 2012. The growing interest in Ben and his work makes apparent the value of our methodical and thorough process, done in collaboration with the composer.
Unfortunately, Ben is in failing health. It is urgent that we finish this pitch-intensive process with his guidance. Therefore, we must drastically increase our rate of production to complete the 10-quartet cycle.
Two local Milwaukee donors have graciously stepped forward with a $15,000, dollar-for-dollar matching grant. These funds will cover a little less than half of the remaining costs. We must match their pledge with funds raised here on Kickstarter. This is the only way we can accomplish our goal.
American composer Ben Johnston
“The composer has undertaken the monumental task of enlarging Western harmonic practice exponentially, by devising a system to allow for purely tuned intervals based on almost any proportion available from the harmonic (overtone) series. The result is a world of sound that is utterly strange and haunting, and yet simultaneously familiar, and weirdly ‘right.’ Indeed, it comes closest to the exact definition of the ‘uncanny’ as almost any music I know.” ROBERT CARL - FANFARE, July/August 2011
Described by New York Times critic John Rockwell as "one of the best non-famous composers this country has to offer," Ben Johnston—who studied with Darius Milhaud, Harry Partch and John Cage—revolutionized the world of modern art music over the past 50 years in his stylistic synthesis of Classical, Jazz, avant-garde and Folk elements and his use of complex rhythmic serialism, but especially in his enriching the tonal palette for listener and performer with innovations in tuning.
String Quartet No. 9 movement IV—00:46 audio sample:
String Quartet No. 5—00:46 audio sample:
String Quartet No. 5—02:22 audio sample ("Lonesome Valley"):
String Quartet No. 10 movement IV—00:34 audio sample:
String Quartet No. 9 movement II—00:58 audio sample:
String Quartet No. 4 ("Amazing Grace" Variations)—three selections, 02:52 audio sample:
the Kepler Quartet takes on the challenge
“It's to be fervently hoped that the Kepler Quartet manage to raise the funds to complete the cycle. In the meantime, anyone who cares about music and what it's capable of should immerse themselves in these extraordinary works.” PETER NAGLE - NOTES FROM A DEFEATIST
“If the seven quartets recorded thus far [Kepler Quartet’s CDs 1 & 2] were Herculean feats…the most laborious of the lot is still to come [CD3, currently in production]. But after hearing what the Keplers have been able to pull off, with their immense musicality, I firmly believe that they are equipped to do it.” FRANK J. OTERI - NEW MUSIC BOX
In their expanded scope, these final quartets—#s 6, 7 & 8—exceed compositional traditions. They require much more time and effort navigating technical practicalities than is required when playing standard repertoire. For instance, there are upwards of 150 discrete pitches per octave in most of these pieces; the third movement of String Quartet No. 7 has 364 unique pitches per octave in the viola part alone. Compare that to the standard 12 pitches per octave of traditional Western music!
Costs—for recording technician and studio rental, mixing and mastering, postproduction, CD manufacturing, travel—are high, and the musicians' donated time, money and effort have been considerable over the past 14 years.
Now is the time to secure the legacy of this great American composer! We need your help to pick up the pace. Please support us in our push to finish in time.
Risks and challenges
We must match the Milwaukee donors' $15,000 pledge with additional funds raised here on Kickstarter .
Over the next three months we will be eating, breathing and sleeping Ben Johnston quartets. February 15, 2016 is the deadline to submit the CD3 master to our label, New World Records.
Helping to bring the 3-CD set of Ben Johnston string quartets to fruition is a monumental opportunity.
Remember, the value of every dollar you contribute is automatically doubled. Please become part of music history in the making!
Tax deductibility and packing/shipping FAQs:
Your donation is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law, minus the cost of the item (cost info. to be provided at time of emailed tax-deductible receipt, when this is requested) and minus packing/shipping (where applicable, see below).
We also want you to know that your donation would be 100% tax-deductible if you were to decide to skip your reward and have all of your pledge amount support the CD project. You will have the opportunity to choose just such an alternative at the end of the Kickstarter campaign, if you so desire.
Whatever your choice, we want you to be satisfied with how you are helping make CD3 a reality. And we hope, if you find your rewards are enhancing your experience and appreciation of Ben's works, that you will also share your enthusiasm with other potential Ben Johnston fans.
Cost of packing and shipping 1 CD (no extra charge for this, included with your $75 donation):
United States $3 USD
Canada $9 USD
Mexico $10 USD
Rest of World $11 USD
Cost of packing and shipping CD & photo (no extra charge for this, included with your $150 donation and with your $500 donation's rewards choices 2a or 2b):
United States $7 USD
Canada $19 USD
Mexico $21 USD
Rest of World $23 USD
Cost of packing and shipping 2 CDs (no extra charge for this, included with your $500 donation's rewards choices #1a or 1b):
United States $4 USD
Canada $10 USD
Mexico $13 USD
Rest of World $14 USD
Cost of packing and shipping 3 CDs & book (no extra charge for this, included with your $1,000 donation's rewards choice A):
United States $14 USD
Canada $36 USD
Mexico $45 USD
Rest of World $49 USD
Cost of packing and shipping 3 CDs & photo (no extra charge for this, included with your $1,000 donation's rewards choice B):
United States $11 USD
Canada $29 USD
Mexico $31 USD
Rest of World $38 USD
Cost of packing and shipping 3 CDs & book & photo (no extra charge for this, included with your $1,500 donation):
United States $18 USD
Canada $46 USD
Mexico $56 USD
Rest of World $61 USD
At the conclusion of the Kickstarter campaign, you will receive a short survey giving you the option of designating 100% of your donation in support of the project and forgoing the reward. In this way, you are in control of where your donation dollar goes and how much time Kepler Quartet will be devoting to CD3 creation and reward fulfillment.
Either way, you will also be asked if you would like a tax-deductible receipt issued by our fiscal agent, Wisconsin Alliance for Composers, which is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit group providing Kepler Quartet with organizational assistance.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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