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Three Questions Before the First Night, by Carson Cooman

David Stock -- Fifth String Quartet

American composer David Stock (born 1939) has been active in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA for many years. He is currently a professor of music at Duquesne University and is best known for his years as composer-in-residence with the Seattle Symphony and his many years as music director of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, an organization which he founded.

Stock's Fifth String Quartet will have its world première on Thursday 31 March 2005 with the Cuarteto Latinoamericano at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

OneCarson Cooman: You've said before that your orchestral music has been the core of your output as a composer. How does your chamber music relate to your compositional catalogue as a whole?

David Stock: Well, even if I had enough commissions, it would be hard to write orchestral music all of the time. Thus, I obviously really like chamber music as well. I've already written six string quartets and am ready for the seventh any time I get a commission for it. I think the tradition has always been that orchestral music is more public and chamber music is more intimate. All you have to do is look at the difference between Beethoven's symphonies and string quartets. That dichotomy is certainly true in my case. I think there was a period in recent music where that distinction had been abandoned, and that was terribly destructive to the cause of new orchestral music. Orchestras were asked to do things that weren't musically appropriate for them to be doing.

TwoCC: The Cuarteto Latinoamericano has played a number of your quartets before and even recorded a full disc of them [listen -- 'Obsessive' (Quartet No 3)]. What has it been like working with this ensemble?

DS: It's fantastic. They gave the premières of quartets Nos 3, 4 and 6, and will now soon première No 5, which has been a long time coming. We've been friends for many years and work well together. They give idealized realizations of my work in the string quartet medium. One of the most amazing experiences was when we recorded quartets Nos 2, 3, and 4 for CD release in Mexico City. There were just the four of them, myself, and the engineer working late into the night. There was this incredible synergy from us all working together to produce amazing results.

The reason for the delayed première of the fifth quartet was because of the circumstances of its composition. It was written in memory of a dear friend who passed away. I would stay with her and her husband when I was in Seattle during my term as composer-in-residence for the Seattle Symphony. She passed away when I was in Seattle a few years ago, and that very evening the ideas for a memorial quartet came to me. I wanted to have the piece premièred in Seattle but that didn't come about.

ThreeCC: You've composed six string quartets. Do you see them as a 'cycle' in any way with any connections between them?

DS: There aren't any direct connections between them. I've tried to make them different from one another as much as possible. The first quartet is a student piece so while I don't exactly discourage performance, it's not likely to get any. If and when the seventh quartet comes along, I hope to make it different as well.

Copyright © 8 March 2005 Carson P Cooman, Rochester, NY, USA








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