Peter Rosser Quartet to Be Performed by the Jack This Week

The Jack Quartet

Peter Rosser Quartet to Be Performed by the Jack This Week

'It seems that when times become troubled the string quartet always comes into its own', wrote Rosser in 2012.

The Jack Quartet from New York will perform Peter Rosser’s second String Quartet in its four performances in Ireland this week.

Writer and composer Rosser, who died in 2014, composed the work in 2011 with the help of an Arts Council of Northern Ireland Major Individual Artist Award. He had previously contacted the Quartet after hearing their recording of the Xenakis quartets, then met them and saw some of their performances in London and elsewhere. Rosser spent 2011 writing the work and the Jack premiered it in 2012 at the opening concert at Belfast’s new Metropolitan Arts Centre (The MAC).

‘It is a complex work,’ violinist Chris Otto told The Journal of Music, ‘encompassing many extremes of dynamic, density, rhythmic profile, and emotional states. … The piece poses extreme challenges for the performers, including rhythmic complexity, intricate ensemble playing, and extremes of dynamic and emotion, but turns out to be a fascinating and engaging experience and certainly rewards close listening.’

On completing the work, Rosser write an extensive article on the quartet form for The Journal of Music:

It seems that when times become troubled the string quartet always comes into its own. In this way Beethoven’s late… quartets become the most viable pathways in music to the modern mind. And then there are Shostakovich’s fifteen attempts to create some kind of personal freedom away from the madness of the Soviet Union’s unending gaze…

And what of the modern classics, the quartets that smear themselves across the windscreen as a terrified people speed through the black century of death camps, napalm, murderous motorcades, ecological disasters? Different Trains, Black Angels, Helikopter, Tetras have become as iconic, if not to say as useful, as novels such as The Atrocity Exhibition or films like Apocalypse Now in encoding an aesthetic approach to the times.

The Jack Quartet perform the work at the Crescent Arts Centre on Wednesday 2 November, the Ulster University on Thursday 3rd, Portershed in Galway in Friday 4th, and the National Concert Hall in Dublin on Saturday 5th.

The full programme includes Caroline Shaw’s Ritornello 2.sq.2.j, John Zorn’s Remedy of Fortune, Julia Wolfe’s Early That Summer and Rosser’s Quartet.

For more information, visit

Published on 31 October 2016


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