If you’re in Mobile, AL on November 15 and 16, head on over to Saenger Theatre for the Mobile Symphony’s performances of Michael Abels’ Delights and Dances, featuring the Harlem String Quartet. Scott Speck conducts these performances as part of the orchestra’s “Beethoven and Blue Jeans” series.
Harlem String Quartet violinist Melissa White comments, “Delights & Dances is quite a personal piece for us. Michael Abels, the composer, is a dear friend and being able to work directly with him has allowed us to truly make it our own. The interaction between the quartet as well as the dialogue between quartet and orchestra permits us to always give a fresh, fun, and unique performance. We’re absolutely thrilled to be performing this work with the Mobile Symphony!”
Delights and Dances was commissioned by the Sphinx Organization to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Sphinx Competition, and to highlight the organization’s mission of promoting the works of Black and Latino composers. Abels, himself a Sphinx composer, originally scored the work for full orchestra which accompanied a varied group of string soloists—all previous Sphinx winners. Abels later revised the three-movement piece (played in one single movement) for string orchestra and for four Sphinx laureates who now perform as the Harlem String Quartet. The revised version premiered in 2007 as part of the Sphinx Laureates Concert at Carnegie Hall. Since then, Delights and Dances has been performed many times, including the Altius Quartet’s summer concert at the 2014 Music in the Mountains Festival (Durango, CO). Delights and Dances has also been recorded on Cedille Records, featuring Mei-Ann Chen conducting the Harlem String Quartet and the Chicago Sinfonietta.