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An all-female composer project and recording from Deviant Septet


Deviant Septet’s mission is to fulfill the vision Igor Stravinsky had for his “L’Histoire du Soldat” ensemble. Stravinsky, enamored by the unusual combination of instruments — violin and bass, clarinet and bassoon, trumpet and trombone, and percussion — thought that others would follow his lead, and that this unique blend of the soprano and bass voice of every instrument family would perform the music of many composers. While Stravinsky’s contemporaries were seemingly not up to the task, Deviant’s central mission is to bring his vision to life by creating a repertoire for this distinctive ensemble. Contemporary composers jump at the chance to solve Stravinsky’s riddles. Deviant Septet is unique among the world’s new music collectives, as it is the only ensemble consisting solely of this instrumentation.

Directly addressing the issue of underrepresentation of female composers in both the classical and new music spheres, Deviant Septet is planning to record a new album consisting of works composed by women and written specifically for our ensemble. In addition to existing pieces by Caroline Shaw, Elizabeth Ogonek, Sarah Grace Graves, Aristea Mellos, and Zoe Yucong Wang, we are commissioning Brooklyn-based composers Mary Kouyoumdjian and Shelley Washington to round out the repertoire for the album. At the core of Deviant Septet’s mission is collaboration with composers who wish to explore and create new works utilizing Stravinsky’s unique Soldier’s Tale instrumentation. With the release of this recording and subsequent touring, we hope to do our part in changing the status quo, documenting the distinctive musical styles of this diverse group of artists. The music recorded here will appeal to a broad audience: one that sees itself reflected in the artists being presented. Deviant Septet recognizes the need to support composers from marginalized groups beyond isolated commissions and this recording and concert project will help in the furthering of that goal.

Project Media

A Kind of Lung
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Features: Shelley Washington

“A Kind of Lung” was written for a diverse ensemble expressing an experience we all share: breathing together. Commissioned by the Bang on a Can Summer Festival.

Naomi Johnson- flute
Erlan Kasabolotov- Sabyzgy
Hunter Long- Paetzold Contrabass Recorder
Khushbakht Niyozov- Rubab
Sayat Yeshmatov- Dombra
Shannon Reilly Steigerwald- Violin
Nick Photinos- Cello
Nadezda Filippova- Piano
Caitlin Cawley- Percussion / Vibraphone
Kevin Zetina- Percussion / Drum Set

Live performance from the premiere concert at Mass MoCa on 7/31/2017.

Bombs of Beirut
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Features: Mary Kouyoumdjian

Commissioned by Kronos Quartet
amplified string quartet, audio playback, live processing / 22’30”
Lebanon, once the refuge where my grandparents and great-grandparents sought safety from the Armenian Genocide, became the dangerous home my parents and brother were forced to abandon during the Lebanese Civil War. The backing track includes interviews with family and friends who shared their experiences living in a time of war; and it presents sound documentation of bombings and attacks on civilians tape-recorded on an apartment balcony.

LEO by Caroline Shaw
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Features: Deviant Septet

Caroline Shaw’s “LEO”, commissioned by Deviant Septet in 2014, and performed here, live in 2016 at Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.
LEO is loosely based on the movement by the same name of Stockhausen’s “Tierkreis” and was originally commissioned as part of a Tierkreis cycle, with twelve movements by twelve composers.
Deviant Septet
Karen Kim- violin
Doug Balliett- bass
Bill Kalinkos- clarinet
Brad Balliett- bassoon
Mike Gurfield- trumpet
Mike Lormand- trombone
Jared Soldiviero- percussion

Start and End Dates



New York, New York

Project Created By

New York, New York
Deviant Septet has been hailed as “exciting” (New York Times), a “stylish new ensemble” (New York Magazine), “superb” (Washington Post), “exceedingly fun”, “led by new music veterans” (Time Out New York), “lively and accomplished” (Classical TV: The Drift), and “boisterously entertaining” (Lucid Culture).  WNYC called it “a brand new ensemble with a high concept… made…

In Collaboration With

Brooklyn, New York
Princeton, New Jersey


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