The New European String Quartet: Metamorphoses Nocturnes; Ligeti , Jabri, Abou-Afash, and Roustom.

by Culture Unlimited Foundation
The New European String Quartet: Metamorphoses Nocturnes; Ligeti , Jabri, Abou-Afash, and Roustom. This is an in-person event that is also streaming online In person tickets: Streaming tickets:
Sat, 16 Dec 2023 (CET)
08:00PM - 09:00PM
Event past
Doopsgezinde Gemeente Utrecht
Mennonite Community, Oudegracht 270, Utrecht
Utrecht, DR 3511 NV
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The New European String Quartet: Metamorphoses Nocturnes; Ligeti, Jabri, Abou-Afash, and Roustom

Event Details:

About the New European Ensemble (NEuE): The New European Ensemble (NEuE) is a group of accomplished musicians, including Rada Ovcharova on violin, Jellantsje de Vries on violin, Emlyn Stam on viola, and Willem Stam on cello. They are dedicated to telling compelling stories through the expressive power of contemporary music. NEuE’s mission is to provoke reflection, challenge perceptions, inspire, and deepen our understanding of the human experience and the world around us. Known for their innovative collaborations, they seamlessly integrate music with other art forms, such as film, literature, theater, dance, and visual arts. Notably, they have collaborated with renowned figures like Edward Snowden and Amnesty International.


Performance Details: The New European String Quartet is set to deliver a captivating string quartet performance, featuring compositions by various composers. The program includes:

  1. Kareem Roustom’s “Shades of Night,” is a piece divided into distinct movements, each capturing different facets of the night, from sunset to the true dawn. Watch a Sneak Peek
Program Notes:

Kareem Roustom draws inspiration from classical Arabic terms that describe various times of day and night, both in their original Arabic form and their English translations. These translations are derived from “Lane’s Lexicon,” compiled by Edward William Lane, an English expert in the Arabic language. Lane’s work is acclaimed for capturing the intricacies and nuances of the Arabic language, often using poetic interpretations. This composition is the third in a trilogy that explores themes related to the protracted Syrian civil war and its repercussions. “Shades of Night” is an intimate reflection on night as both a metaphor and a natural phenomenon. The music incorporates a melody that recurs throughout the piece, culminating in a poignant presentation of the first violin during the final movement. The work also employs polyrhythms to signify two distinct time zones separated by seven hours. This evokes the notion that, in our interconnected world, one can exist emotionally in both time zones simultaneously. The composition features nine translations from Lane’s Lexicon, one for each of its nine movements.

String Quartet No. 1 Shades of Night was commissioned by the Grand Teton Music Festival and is dedicated to the festival’s music director, Donald Runnicles.


  1. Kinan Abou-Afach – Chronicles I (à la sama’i) for String Quartet (2005 – revised 2019)
    • “Chronicles I (à la sama’i) for String Quartet” by Kinan Abou-Afach is a contemporary composition that draws inspiration from Middle Eastern sama’i music, using a loose structure with multiple sections (Khana) followed by a refrain (Taslim). The piece primarily utilizes a 10/8 meter. The deconstructed form allows the Taslim to reappear as motivic fragments throughout different sections, with shifts in mood from melancholic to pensive, evoking a longing for Abou-Afach’s homeland, Syria. This composition serves as a personal diary of Kinan Abou-Afach’s experiences and emotions as he was living in Chicago, having migrated from Syria. It was written before the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011 and reflects his feelings of missing home. In the piece, Abou-Afach employs the classical form of Samaei and incorporates Arabic maqamat (musical modes) such as Kurd, Saba Kurd, and Hijaz in a contemporary and allusive manner. Throughout the composition, Abou-Afach documents his daily feelings and emotions in a notebook, capturing a range of experiences including being lost, anger and frustration, hope, surrender to his current life, and moments of meditation. The use of taqsim, an Arabic improvisational technique, is also employed to highlight his emotions and contribute to the overall theme of longing for home. Like the sama’i form, the composition provides a space for meditative moments, allowing the audience to connect with Abou-Afach’s deep feelings and experiences.

  1. Zaid Jabri: Prelude and Adagio (In memoriam Krzysztof Penderecki) for String Quartet
    • Commissioned by the 23rd Chopin and Friends Festival and premiered in New York City in 2021, this string quartet serves as a tribute to Zaid’s mentor, Krzysztof Penderecki, who passed away in 2020. The composition explores various timbres with the string quartet through extended techniques while maintaining elements like melody, harmony, and polyphony in a concise duration. It aims to capture the evolution in Penderecki’s music, from sonorism to neo-romanticism. In 2023, “Prelude and Adagio” received the Special Prize Piero Pezzé for “Composition for chamber instrumental group” in the XIV International Composition Competition “Città di Udine,” organized by Taukay Edizioni Musicali.

  1. György Ligeti String Quartet No. 1 “Métamorphoses nocturnes”
    • Composed in 1953–54, this quartet, titled “Métamorphoses nocturnes,” reflects the earlier period of György Ligeti’s work before he left Hungary in 1956. The piece, approximately 21 minutes long, was premiered at the Vienna Musikverein in 1958. It consists of a single continuous movement divided into 17 sections, each with its unique character and tempo.