Anthony McGill and the Pacifica Quartet tell the stories of America
New Classical Tracks (Extended) - Pacifica Quartet with Anthony McGill
Anthony McGill/Pacifica Quartet — American Stories (Cedille) Jump to giveaway form
“I don't remember the first time I played or performed the Mozart Clarinet Quintet. There's something about the first journeys into works that are especially memorable for me,” said clarinetist Anthony McGill when talking about how he and the Pacifica Quartet formed powerful memories as they learned and grew into the music featured on their new release, American Stories.
Can you talk about what we hear in James Lee III’s Quintet?
“I've been thinking a lot about this because of my entire life as a Black musician. Lee’s piece interests me, particularly with his discussion about his inspiration from pictures of Native Americans or indigenous peoples, but also a blending of Black Americans who can trace their roots to indigenous populations in America.”
Can you talk about the story behind Richard Danielpour’s Four Angels?
“The thematic material is based on the Black American struggle and civil rights movement, which he has been a champion of through his musical voice for many years. This particular piece, which was dedicated to the four girls who were killed in the Birmingham bombing in 1963, is a dedication to the lives that have been lost for freedom in this country.
“Recording it with the Pacifica Quartet worked perfectly. This concept of identity represents Danielpour. He always tells his story. We have individual stories of growing up. He grew up in Florida as a Persian American, but it always started in the civil rights movement. It’s about how you can feel the plight of other people and be a part of a movement in that way and then use your voice as a composer or creator to share the voices and the stories of others.”
How about Ben Shirley’s High Sierra Sonata?
Pacifica Quartet violist Mark Holloway: “It starts with this external sound, which is our breathing, waking up and starting the day. To start the recording, we had to breathe. McGill put some air through his instrument, and we were stretching to have a human side to the way the music opens peacefully and calmly. You can imagine the High Sierras. It's evocative music that marches to the beat of its own drum. He doesn't write music the way everyone else does, which is the mark of a very good composer.”
McGill: “It's great to be on here with Halloway because we've never performed these pieces before, but we also haven't had long conversations. What Halloway says reminds me of my parents and family's visual art background. It reminds me of music that is similar to a collage. There are different pieces from different parts of one's artist's life within the work.”
To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.
Anthony McGill/Pacifica Quartet — American Stories (Cedille store)
Anthony McGill/Pacifica Quartet — American Stories (Amazon)
Pacifica Quartet (official site)