Called “an energetic arrangement [incorporating] jazz, blues, bluegrass and Latin dance elements” (New York Times), Michael Abels’ Delights and Dances is his ever-popular work for string quartet and string orchestra. This summer, audiences in Durango, CO will hear it on July 25 as part of the Music in the Mountains Festival. Christopher James Lees conducts the festival orchestra along with featured ensemble — the award-winning Altius Quartet.
Originally commissioned by the Sphinx Organization for the 10th anniversary of its Sphinx Competition, Delights and Dances celebrates 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. The composer later revised the 12-minute, three-movement piece (played as a single movement) for string orchestra and string quartet. This revised version premiered in 2007 as part of the Sphinx Laureates Concert featured at Carnegie Hall.
Lees comments, “Michael Abels’ Delights and Dances, especially in the hands of the Altius Quartet, achieves both in a way that illuminates the shared groove, pulse, and joy of global music making. The opening soli are intimate & expressive, followed by music of high octane and audible effervescence. I couldn’t be more excited to help bring this piece to life in Durango!” The Altius Quartet — having previously performed the work and subsequently adding it to its repertoire, enjoys playing it whenever it can. Violinist Andrew Giordano explains, “Here’s how we feel about Delights and Dances — the piece is full of excitement! It’s very virtuosic for all of the players of the quartet. Yet, with its jazz-like influences, it’s accessible to many different kinds of audiences. It’s a pleasure to play it.” The world-premiere recording of Delights and Dances is available on Cedille Records.