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Josh Modney

New York, NY         

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), Josh 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. Josh is violinist and Executive Director of the Wet Ink Ensemble and a member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and performed with the Mivos Quartet for eight years, a vital new-music string quartet he co-founded in 2008.

Engage (New Focus Recordings), Josh’s debut solo album, was dubbed “one of the most intriguing programs of the year” by Seth Colter Walls of The New York Times. The 3-disc release features work by longtime collaborators Eric Wubbels, Sam Pluta, Kate Soper, and Taylor Brook, a new solo version of Anthony Braxton’s “Composition No. 222” – lauded as “both respectful in its intentions and radical in its execution” (The New York Times),  a Just Intonation reinterpretation of J.S Bach’s luminous Ciaccona, and Modney’s own solo violin improvisations. The album also features an introductory essay by Nate Wooley.

Josh’s fresh and versatile approach to the violin and uniquely dynamic performance practice has made him a highly sought-after collaborator. He has worked closely on new solos and duos with composers including Kate Soper, Alex Mincek, Eric Wubbels, Sam Pluta, Andrew Greenwald and Rick Burkhardt, as well as projects with major figures including Kaija Saariaho, Mathias Spahlinger, Helmut Lachenmann, George Lewis, Christian Wolff, and Peter Ablinger. 

Josh’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 Josh, 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); Scott Wollschleger’s Soft Aberration (New Focus), selected as a “Notable Recording of 2017” by The New Yorker; and Sam Pluta’s Broken Symmetries (Carrier), which features Josh as soloist on the title track. Josh’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).

Josh 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), Wolfgang Rihm’s Musik für Drei Streicher (with ICE), and Kate Soper’s Ipsa Dixit (with Wet Ink), praised by Alex Ross as “comprehensively astounding …. a twenty-first century masterpiece” (The New Yorker). Upcoming highlights include the premiere of Eric Wubbels’s piano trio, written for Josh Modney and cellist Mariel Roberts, and the release of the Wet Ink Large Ensemble’s debut album, Wet Ink:20, featuring Josh as soloist on Sam Pluta’s Portraits/Self-Portraits.

Eric Wubbels: “the children of fire come looking for fire”

Excerpt of “the children of fire…”, performed by Wubbels and Modney on “Engage” (New Focus Recordings)

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Josh Modney: Range

Excerpt of “Range” from Modney’s “Violin Solos”, a series of improvised music that comprises the third disc of “Engage” (New Focus Recordings)

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Sam Pluta: Portraits/Self-Portraits

Performed by Modney with the Wet Ink Large Ensemble. A duo version of this work, titled “Jem Altieri with a Ring Modulator Circuit”, featuring Pluta on live electronics, appears on Modney’s “Engage” album (New Focus Recordings).

The full ensemble version will be released in September 2018 on “Wet Ink:20” (Carrier Records), an album featuring large ensemble works by the Wet Ink composers (Alex Mincek, Kate Soper, Eric Wubbels, Sam Pluta), Katherine Young, and Anthony Braxton, in celebration of Wet Ink’s 20th Anniversary.

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NewMusicBox Articles

NewMusicBox August 27 2018 | By Josh Modney
Just Intonation as Orchestrator

I initially came to Just Intonation from the perspective of contemporary music and from working with composers on particular projects, but I’ve found that JI has crept into almost everything...

NewMusicBox August 20 2018 | By Josh Modney
Polyphony and Storytelling: A Conversation with Nate Wooley on Solo Improvisation

Nate Wooley’s music and relationship to his instrument has been a huge inspiration to me as a violinist. So I’m very grateful to Nate for taking the time to offer...

NewMusicBox August 13 2018 | By Josh Modney
A Holistic Approach to Sound

An extended technique is any action that produces a result outside the fundamental parameters of sound that an instrument was designed to make. But as useful as I’ve found this...

See more of Josh Modney's articles on NewMusicBox.