On February 23, the Harlem Chamber Players (HCP) offer the New York premiere of James Lee III’s string quartet The Appointed Time at the Brooklyn Public Library. Written as a musical commentary on the Biblical story of the temptation of Christ as he embarked on his ministry (Matthew 4:1-11), the 19-minute, four-movement work was composed in 1999 and premiered in August 2002 at the Tanglewood Music Festival, where Lee served as a Seiji Ozawa Composition Fellow.
Amadi Azikiwe, violinist with the Harlem Chamber Players, comments on Lee’s quartet. “I first played James’ quartet in 2010, when I was a member of the Ritz Chamber Players. I had not heard of James, his music or the quartet beforehand.” (The Ritz Chamber Players subsequently commissioned and premiered Lee’s chamber work Night Visions of Kippur at the University of Washington in Seattle in January 2012.) Azikiwe, having played the piece previously, naturally thought of it when HCP was exploring programming ideas for this concert. He continues, “Liz Player [HCP founder and artistic director] asked us for repertoire suggestions. I will always play this very moving, interesting and serious quartet as often as I can; [and] I am pleasantly surprised and honored to know that we will be giving the New York premiere.”
“I feel blessed,” Lee shares, “to have my work included on a concert that includes the music of composers Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson and Maurice Ravel. As I reflect on February being Black History Month, I consider it a privilege to have my religiously inspired string quartet performed alongside another composer of African descent — Mr. Perkinson’s “Calvary Quartet” is also inspired by a very important aspect of Christianity’s history.”
Upcoming: Lee’s next premiere is a world premiere when, on March 1st, conductor Jed Gaylin leads the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra in the first performance of the composer’s new orchestral piece Alas! Babylon‘s Final Sunset, at Shriver Hall in Baltimore, MD.
Find out more about James Lee III.