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A Tribute to Martin Boykan: Cygnus with Sharon Harms and Jessica Bowers

October 24, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT

Cygnus Tutti at the Morgan

“Since time passes slowly in music, we are immersed in a world that is richer and more eventful than ordinary life,” Martin Boykan wrote in Silence and Slow Time: Studies in Musical Narrative (2004).

Martin Boykan in 1981Boykan’s life was certainly richer than most. Having made his recital debut aged 15, when the New York Times described him as “an authentic talent,” he went on to become not only a renowned pianist but also a celebrated composer and revered teacher, a key figure in the development of the Music Department at Brandies University. At Harvard, where he studied with Walter Piston, Paul Hindemith and Aaron Copland, he chased roommates away by playing Bach and Beethoven late into the night.

Much-honored as a composer, Boykan was a generous teacher, and always said that each activity enhanced the other. Composer Eric Chasalow, a Brandeis colleague, described Boykan as “a very rare kind of person. He had a really penetrating musical mind. He could look at a score – even newly written by a student, very young – and get to the heart of the issues… It was never about him. And I think that with artists, that is rare.”

Diptych, a quintet, was composed for Cygnus in 2013 and first performed by the ensemble at the Italian Academy at Columbia University in a program presented by the League of Composers/ISCM.

Richard FestingerRichard Festinger is “an American master” (WQXR) whose music is “notable for its combination of propulsive energy with an impeccable sense of poise and balance” (Tanglewood Music Festival). His extensive catalogue of vocal and instrumental compositions has won him international recognition and numerous awards and commissions, and his composing residencies have included the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Aaron Copland House, and the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center in Bellagio.

Born in Massachusetts, Festinger has made his life and career on the West Coast. A professor of music theory and composition at San Francisco State University, he is the co-founder of Earplay, the San Francisco based modern music ensemble. As a young guitarist, Festinger backed Joan Baez at Woodstock, part of the Struggle Mountain Resistance Band with Jeffrey Shurtleff. Festinger was a friend of Resistance founder David Harris, Baez’s draft-resisting husband. The full set is now available as Joan Baez Live at Woodstock.

The sextet Hidden Spring was written for Cygnus who premiered it in 2004. Its title, taken from a line in a poem of Robert Frost, alludes to the idea of a source from which the music flows, but a source that is only felt, and not quite discernible. The aesthetic shares something with abstract expressionist painting, where expressivity is a property of the gestures themselves, rather than of a depiction of something familiar.

Cygnus is guitars, winds, strings in pairs -- the Elizabethans called such a formation a "broken consort", meaning the instruments were from different families.

List of performers

  • John Ferrari, conductor
  • Tara Helen O'Connor, flute
  • James Austin Smith, oboe
  • Cal Wiersma, violin
  • Natasha Brofsky; cello
  • William Anderson, mandolin
  • Oren Fader, guitar

Program includes
David Claman: The Maldive Shark
Martin Boykan: Diptych (quintet for Cygnus) and Sea Gardens, featuring Sharon Harms, soprano and Joan Forsyth, piano
Richard Festinger, Hidden Spring
Carman Moore: A Village Triptych for guitars, mandolins and soprano (setttings of poems by Gamel Woolsey, Djuna Barnes and Lennox Raphael)


Pay what you wish. Sugested dontion of $20 to The Village Trip


October 24, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT
Event Category:


Loft 393
393 Broadway
New York, NY 10013 United States
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