New music champions JACK Quartet collaborate with the Santa Cruz/Oakland-based Lightbulb Ensemble (LBE) in a concert of new works for string quartet and contemporary American gamelan.

Building on the success of their 2015 performance of LBE director Brian Baumbusch’s epic Hyrdrogen(2)Oxygencalled “maddeningly beautiful … magnificent, and as intoxicating as a drug” by the Washington Post—the two ensembles premiere new pieces by three current and former LBE members: Santa Cruz composer Sarang Kim, Wayne Vitale, and Peter Sloan. Baumbusch’s Hydrogen(2)Oxygen will close the concert.

Hydrogen(2)Oxygen presents the first-ever collaboration between the Lightbulb Ensemble and the JACK Quartet. The work draws on the 2012 collaboration between Baumbusch and JACK entitled Bali Alloy, which premiered several works at the Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar written for JACK and a 25-member Balinese Gong Kebyar ensemble. Hydrogen(2)Oxygen comes from an aesthetic of molecular crystallizations, confluences of symmetry and asymmetry represented through non-coincidental rhythmic cells of contrary proportions and immense time cycles, and meanwhile explores the musical potential and the depths of raw expression contained in the contemporary string quartet and the American gamelan.

JACK Quartet

Deemed “superheroes of the new music world” (Boston Globe), the JACK Quartet is “the go-to quartet for contemporary music, tying impeccable musicianship to intellectual ferocity and a take-no-prisoners sense of commitment.” (Washington Post) “They are a musical vehicle of choice to the next great composers who walk among us.” (Toronto Star)

The recipient of Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, New Music USA’s Trailblazer Award, and the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, JACK has performed to critical acclaim at Carnegie Hall (USA), Lincoln Center (USA), Miller Theatre (USA), Wigmore Hall (United Kingdom), Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ (Netherlands), IRCAM (France), Kölner Philharmonie (Germany), the Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), La Biennale di Venezia (Italy), Suntory Hall (Japan), Bali Arts Festival (Indonesia), Festival Internacional Cervatino (Mexico), and Teatro Colón (Argentina).

Comprising violinists Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Jay Campbell, JACK is focused on new work, leading them to collaborate with composers John Luther Adams, Chaya Czernowin, Simon Steen-Andersen, Caroline Shaw, Helmut Lachenmann, Steve Reich, Matthias Pintscher, and John Zorn. Upcoming and recent premieres include works by Derek Bermel, Cenk Ergün, Roger Reynolds, Toby Twining, and Georg Friedrich Haas.

Lightbulb Ensemble

The Lightbulb Ensemble is a new music percussion ensemble that champions experimental music, instrument building, and contemporary gamelan, “whose refreshingly innovative performances challenge conventional notions of how gamelan music should sound” (SF Classical Voice). The ensemble emerged from the culture of new music in the Bay Area centering around Mills College, and the longstanding artistic exchange between Bali and the US fostered by Gamelan Sekar Jaya. The group performs on steel metallophones, wooden marimbas, and other instruments designed, tuned, and built by Brian Baumbusch, Lightbulb’s founder and director. Performing only new repertoire, the group presents in-house compositions and collaborates with other artists of the new music community, including The Paul Dresher Ensemble, The Jack Quartet, The Center for Contemporary Music, Jessika Kenney and Eyvind Kang, among others.

Brian Baumbusch is a composer and multi-instrumentalist whose “harmonically vivid… intense… simmering” (NY Times) compositions push the boundaries of new music. He has spearheaded projects of both western and non-western music that are considered a “cultural treat” (Maryland Gazette). He has headlined performances at the Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar, The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, The Clarice Smith Center of Maryland, and Kresge Hall at MIT, Cambridge, among others. He has worked extensively with artists such as The JACK Quartet, Pauline Oliveros, Larry Polansky, Wayne Vitale, I Made Bandem, and Paul Dresher. In 2013, Baumbusch founded The Lightbulb Ensemble, a new-music gamelan ensemble performing on percussion instruments that he designed and built. He continues to be an influential force in the California gamelan community, both with his work in directing the Lightbulb Ensemble, as well as his work as director of the Santa Clara University Balinese Gamelan Ensemble and the U.C. Santa Cruz Balinese Gamelan ensemble, where Baumbusch currently resides.

Indexical’s Santa Cruz concert series is made possible through generous support by Arts Council Santa Cruz.

Arts Council Santa Cruz