Track Premiere: Josh Modney and Kate Soper Perform Soper’s Cipher

Today’s track premiere features violinist Josh Modney and vocalist/composer Kate Soper performing Soper’s Cipher for soprano and violin.

Cipher is one of seven works featured on Engage, Modney’s upcoming debut solo violin album. The three-disc album brings together the varied threads of Modney’s recent work, including long-term collaborations with composers ​Kate Soper, Eric Wubbels, ​and ​Sam Pluta; solo violin music by ​Taylor Brook​ and​ Anthony Braxton​; Modney’s own improvised music for solo violin; and ​J.S. Bach’s ​Ciaccona​ reinterpreted in just intonation.

Here’s what Modney has to say about Cipher:

Kate Soper’s Cipher for soprano and violin operates in a liminal zone of language, meaning, pitch and timbre. Kate wrote the piece for the two of us through an open, collaborative process rooted in our experiences together as members of the composer-performer collective Wet Ink Ensemble. Cipher is a searching work that travels to many places, employing a wide variety of innovative violin sounds and Kate’s uniquely versatile vocal technique.

Engage drops on August 3, 2018 on New Focus Recordings, but you can pre-order it here.

About Josh Modney

Josh Modney is a violinist devoted to creative musicmaking. A “new-music luminary,” “superb violinist” (The New York Times), and “multitasking virtuoso” (The New Yorker) hailed for “brash, energetic performances” (The New York Times), Modney collaborates with a wide array of renowned ensembles and artists as part of a broad scene of adventurous music that exists at the nexus of composition, improvisation, and interpretation. Modney is violinist and Executive Director of the Wet Ink Ensemble and a member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). Modney performed internationally with the Mivos Quartet for eight years, a new-music string quartet he co-founded in 2008.

Modney’s playing has been featured on a wide variety of outstanding recordings, including titles on Carrier Records, Deutsche Grammophon, Sound American, hat[now]ART, Nonesuch, and Tzadik Records. Recent highlights include Alex Mincek’s Torrent (Sound American), which features a series of duos written for Modney, and was selected as one of the “Best Albums of 2017” by The New York Times and The Nation; Steve Reich’s Pulse/Quartet (Nonesuch), lauded for “pitch perfect performances” (The Guardian); and Sam Pluta’s Broken Symmetries (Carrier), which features Modney as soloist on the title track. Modney’s 2017 release of improvised chamber music with guitarist Patrick Higgins (ZS), EVRLY MVSIC, earned praise for its “clairvoyant connection and sheer instrumental prowess” (The Quietus). Modney has a passion for large-scale performance projects, including recitals of J.S. Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin in Just Intonation, and evening-length chamber works including Mathias Spahlinger’s extension for violin and piano (with Eric Wubbels), and Kate Soper’s Ipsa Dixit (with Wet Ink), praised by Alex Ross as “comprehensively astounding …. a twenty-first century masterpiece” (The New Yorker). Modney’s debut solo album, Engage, will be released on New Focus Recordings on August 3rd, 2018, featuring works by Sam Pluta, Taylor Brook, Kate Soper, Anthony Braxton, J.S. Bach, Eric Wubbels, and Modney.

About Kate Soper

Kate Soper is a composer, performer, and writer whose work explores the integration of drama and rhetoric into musical structure, the slippery continuums of expressivity, intelligibility and sense, and the wonderfully treacherous landscape of the human voice. She has been hailed by The Boston Globe as “a composer of trenchant, sometimes discomfiting, power” and by The New Yorker for her “limpid, exacting vocalism, impetuous theatricality, and…mastery of modernist style.” A Pulitzer Prize finalist, Soper has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters (The Virgil Thomson and Goddard Lieberson awards and the Charles Ives Scholarship), the Koussevitzky Foundation, Chamber Music America, the Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund, the Music Theory Society of New York State, and ASCAP, and has been commissioned by ensembles including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, the Tanglewood Music Center/BUTI, Mivos Quartet, and Yarn/Wire. She has received residencies and fellowships from the Civitella Raineri Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Camargo Foundation, the Macdowell Colony, Tanglewood, Royaumont, and Domaine Forget, among others.

Praised by The New York Times for her “lithe voice and riveting presence,” Soper performs frequently as a new music soprano. As a singer and performer with experience in Western Classical and Indian Carnatic music, songwriting, improvisation, and experimental theatre, she has sung in U.S. and world premieres of works by composers such as Peter Ablinger, Beat Furrer, George Lewis, Matthias Spahlinger, and Katharina Rosenberger, and has appeared with groups such as the Morningside Opera Company, the Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf, and the Dinosaur Annex Ensemble. She performs regularly in her own works, and has been featured as a composer/vocliast on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW series, the New York City-based MATA and SONiC festivals, the Lucerne Forum for New Music, Gaudeamus Muziekweek New York, the Sacramento Festival of New Music, and the American Composers Orchestra’s Orchestra Underground series.  Soper is a member of Wet Ink, a New York-based new music ensemble dedicated to seeking out adventurous music across aesthetic boundaries. She is the Iva Dee Hiatt Assistant Professor of Music at Smith College.