Jennifer Koh’s ‘Alone Together’ to be released by Cedille Records August 27
Album features 39 world premiere recordings of new works by established and emerging composers
American violinist Jennifer Koh’s new recording Alone Together, based on her online performance series of the same name created in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the financial hardship it has placed on many in the arts community, will be released digitally by Cedille Records on Friday, August 27.
“One of the more acclaimed violinists of our time” (Washington Post), Ms. Koh has been highly visible during the pandemic as a result of Alone Together, which features short new works donated by established composers and commissioned from talented young composers who may be struggling financially because of the COVID-19 crisis. The New York Times called the series “a marvel for a time of crisis” and the lineup of composers “more inclusive than anything in mainstream classical music.”
Ms. Koh performs 39 world premiere recordings of works by established composers such as Du Yun, Vijay Iyer, Tania Léon, George Lewis, Missy Mazzoli, Ellen Reid, and Wang Lu, and emerging composers including Katherine Balch, Nina Shekhar, Lester St. Louis, Rajna Swaminathan, Darian Donovan Thomas, and Sugar Vendil, among others.
Describing Alone Together in an interview for Strings, Ms. Koh said, “A lot of my projects—and a lot of what’s important to me—are based on this idea of inclusivity of underrepresented voices and people who haven’t been heard before. Part of that is the realization that we’re all active members of history. I’m very conscious that every action we take really makes a difference reverberating into the future.” All of the works in the collection are inspired by the composers’ experiences early in the pandemic, and the recording booklet includes comments from each composer about their piece. Ms. Koh continued in the article, “I didn’t realize it then, but now looking back, it was really a musical archive of that time.”
Alone Together is Ms. Koh’s 15th Cedille Records album. The recording follows Bach & Beyond Part 3, the final installment in her critically acclaimed series tracing the history of the solo violin repertoire from J.S. Bach’s Six Sonatas and Partitas to 20th- and 21st-century composers (released in 2020), and Limitless, on which she performs nine contemporary duets with the composers themselves. The Chicago Tribune named Limitless among the “Best Classical Albums of 2019,” praising it as “a testament to Koh’s adventurousness and the creativity of all involved.”
Recorded February 11 and 18 and March 23-24 at Oktaven Audio in Mount Vernon, NY, Alone Together is produced by Grammy Award-winner Judith Sherman, engineered by Charles Mueller, and mastered by Bill Maylone.
Alone Together was commissioned and produced by ARCO Collaborative with the support of commissioning partners National YoungArts Foundation and generous individual donors of ARCO Collaborative.
“I remember I met Angelica Negron for the first time — on Zoom — learning her piece, and she was telling me how, it was so horrific, she was just watching Instagram videos of these two dogs who play with balloons. And so her piece is called “Cooper and Emma,” and it’s based on these two dogs who play with balloons on Instagram. So I think we can kind of see how everybody processed that period. And it’s helpful, because I think it was — I think, now, looking back, we realize that there are so many systemic inequities, and I think because most of the composers who were commissioned were either people of color, non-binary or non-gender conforming and women, it was interesting meeting them because I could literally see the systemic inequities when we were speaking and learning about what they were going through at that time.” -Jennifer Koh
All Things Considered on GBH
“I always need to imagine the end of the piece before I start the piece. I remember thinking, ‘OK, there’s going to be an end to this pandemic.’ So I was imagining the end, and then I thought, well, when I look back, what kind of person do I want to have been? Do I want to look back and think that I actually helped people and made a difference?” -Jennifer Koh