Hallelujah Anyhow: The Premiere Recording of Alvin Singleton’s String Quartets
The Latest Update
Working with Singleton and his publisher on a new edition of String Quartet No. 1!
As part of Momenta’s project to record Alvin Singleton’s complete string quartets, we’ve most recently put in the final piece of the puzzle by learning his first string quartet, from 1967. We’re now working with his publishers on creating an even more accurate edition of this milestone first work. Yesterday we met over Zoom with Alvin and representatives from his publisher, Schott Music, to go over all of the revisions and changes that will make it into a brand-new engraving for generations of future string quartets.
Confirming our label, New World Records!
We’re pleased to announce that our Alvin Singleton portrait album will be released under the auspices of New World Records. We couldn’t be happier to be joining their eminent roster of artists and composers, and to be working alongside a label that shares our exploratory vision and commitment to bringing the best of American music to life. More updates to follow as our project gets underway!
The Momenta Quartet will join forces with New World Records to make a new album – Hallelujah Anyhow: The Complete String Quartets of Alvin Singleton. This record will feature the world premiere recordings of four string quartets by one of this country’s most distinguished African American composers. Singleton has made substantial contributions to the string chamber music repertoire; his quartets are a significant part of the American string quartet canon and provide important insights into the stylistic development of his music. Recorded under the composer’s supervision, this album will be an important asset to scholars of Singleton’s music and future generations of performers.
The Momenta Quartet is a leading interpreter of Alvin Singleton’s music. We first collaborated with Alvin when we were invited to perform his second quartet, Secret Desire to be Black (1988) and his third quartet, Somehow We Can (1994) as part of his 75th birthday festivities on the Interpretations Series at Roulette in Brooklyn, New York. We became close friends with Alvin, who immediately offered to write a new quartet for us – Hallelujah Anyhow (2019), for which we received a commission grant from Chamber Music America (CMA). Momenta has since performed Alvin’s second, third and fourth quartets at the Americas Society in New York City and for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. We are in the process of learning his String Quartet No. 1 (1967) for performance next season on our sixth annual Momenta Festival and on various university concert series.
Momenta will begin recording Alvin Singleton’s four quartets at Oktaven Studio in Mt. Vernon, New York in August 2021, with composer Ryan Streber as the producer and sound engineer. We plan to release the new album in time for a special CD release concert on our seventh annual Momenta Festival in June 2022.
Both Momenta and Alvin Singleton are excited about making this album under the auspices of New World Records, whose broadly eclectic vision and committed advocacy of American music mesh with Momenta’s own exploratory values and make this an ideal collaboration. Momenta is already well known to New World Records, having been featured on their 2013 portrait CD of composer and shakuhachi artist Elizabeth Brown, and currently working on a portrait of Downtown composer Daniel Goode. New World’s Vice President and Director of Artists & Repertory, Paul Tai, has enthusiastically green-lighted our Singleton proposal and is as thrilled as we are about releasing this new album.
This new record will have an important impact on both Alvin Singleton’s and the Momenta Quartet’s careers. For Alvin, it will represent the first time that one chamber group releases an entire album of his music and that his entire output in one genre is available from one source. For Momenta, it will be the debut recording of our first CMA commission.
We believe strongly in the importance of this record to the American music community at large. Alvin Singleton has a unique voice that needs to be heard, and the trajectory of his career is an inspiration to all musicians and to the generations of African American composers to come. In his own words – Somehow We Can – somehow we can have an American classical music scene that celebrates the creativity of all musicians from all of the rich cultural backgrounds in this diverse nation.
Momenta Quartet performs the world premiere of Singleton’s most recent string quartet, “Hallelujah Anyhow,” on the 2019 Momenta Festival at Americas Society in NYC. The work is a Chamber Music America commission for Momenta Quartet.
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Start and End Dates
08/01/2021 — 06/30/2022
Mount Vernon, New York