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Telegraph Quartet with Abigail Fischer, Mezzo
June 21, 2021
Telegraph Quartet with Abigail Fischer, Mezzo

CANCELLED DUE TO COVID

Live Audience Performance June 21

Grażyna Bacewicz: String Quartet No. 4
Robert Sirota (composer) and Stevan Cavalier (librettist): Contrapassos with Abigail Fischer, mezzo
Maurice Ravel: String Quartet in F Major

The Telegraph Quartet (Eric Chin and Joseph Maile, violins; Pei-Ling Lin, viola; Jeremiah Shaw, cello) was formed in 2013 with an equal passion for the standard chamber music repertoire and contemporary, non-standard works alike. Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “…an incredibly valuable addition to the cultural landscape” and “powerfully adept… with a combination of brilliance and subtlety,” the Telegraph Quartet was awarded the prestigious 2016 Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Award and the Grand Prize at the 2014 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. The Quartet has performed in concert halls, music festivals, and academic institutions across the United States and abroad, including New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Chamber Masters Series, and at festivals including the Chautauqua Institute, Interlochen Arts Festival, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, and the Emilia Romagna Festival. The Quartet is currently on the chamber music faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as the Quartet-in-Residence.

Notable collaborations include projects with pianists Leon Fleisher and Simone Dinnerstein; cellists Norman Fischer and Bonnie Hampton; violinist Ian Swensen; composer-vocalist Theo Bleckmann; and the Henschel Quartett. A fervent champion of 20th- and 21st-century repertoire, the Telegraph Quartet co-commissioned John Harbison’s String Quartet No. 6 and gave its West Coast premiere in the fall of 2017 on San Francisco State University’s Morrison Artists Series. The Telegraph Quartet premiered Richard Festinger’s third string quartet, Icarus in Flight, a musical representation of climate change data from the year 1880 to projected simulations of 2080. The Quartet gave the world premiere of Robert Sirota’s String Quartet No. 3, Wave Upon Wave at Weill Recital Hall for its Carnegie Hall debut in 2018, sponsored by the Naumburg Foundation. In fall 2021, the Telegraph will premiere a new work with soprano Abigail Fischer by composer Robert Sirota and librettist Stevan Cavalier, commissioned by Sierra Chamber Music Society.

In 2018 the Quartet released its debut album, Into the Light, featuring works by Anton Webern, Benjamin Britten, and Leon Kirchner on the Centaur label. The San Francisco Chronicle praised the album, saying, “Just five years after forming, the Bay Area’s Telegraph Quartet has established itself as an ensemble of serious depth and versatility, and the group’s terrific debut recording only serves to reinforce that judgment.” AllMusic acclaimed, “An impressive beginning for an adventurous group, this 2018 release puts the Telegraph Quartet on the map.”

Beyond the concert stage, the Telegraph Quartet seeks to spread its music through education and audience engagement. In the fall of 2017, the Quartet traveled to communities and schools in Maine with Yellow Barn’s Music Haul, a mobile performance stage that brings music outside of the concert hall to communities across the U.S. The Quartet has given master classes at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Collegiate and Pre-College Divisions, through the Morrison Artist Series at San Francisco State University, and abroad at the Taipei National University of the Arts and in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Telegraph has also served as artists-in-residence at the Interlochen Adult Chamber Music Camp, SoCal Chamber Music Workshop, and Crowden Music Center Chamber Music Workshop. In November 2020, the Telegraph Quartet launched ChamberFEAST!, a chamber music workshop in Taiwan. ChamberFEAST! featured two concerts by the Telegraph at Eslite Concert Hall, week-long chamber music intensive with students from Taiwanese schools and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and masterclasses and coachings at high schools and universities across Taiwan.

The Telegraph Quartet has adapted to these challenging times and remains strongly committed to sharing its music. Recent and upcoming Livestream concerts include performances presented by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Crowden Chamber Music Workshop, Noe Music, Noontime Concerts, Music in Corrales, and Intermusic SF. For Earth Day 2020 (the 50th anniversary of Earth Day), the National Academy of Science in collaboration with the ClimateMusic Project hosted a virtual performance by the Telegraph Quartet of Richard Festinger’s Icarus in Flight. Amid the ongoing COVD-19 pandemic, Telegraph launched an online video project called TeleLab, in which the ensemble collectively breaks down the components of a movement from various works for quartet. TeleLab draws the listener deeper into how those components fit together and evolve over the course of the piece while giving the audience the time and space to deepen their experience of music.

While the Telegraph Quartet is indebted to numerous mentors and teachers, the group’s primary musical guidance and support have come from Mark Sokol, Bonnie Hampton, and Ian Swensen at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The Telegraph Quartet is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Abigail Fischer Bio

“With her dramatic tumble of red hair and cello-mellow voice, Ms. Fischer sings with a passionate restraint that has no equal in her generation. You didn’t want her to stop.” So said Zachary Woolfe from the New York Times after Abigail Fischer’s performance of George Benjamin with St. Luke’s Orchestra at the New York Philharmonic Bienniel in 2014.

Versatile soprano Abigail Fischer has made a vibrant career soloing with ensembles such as the Kansas City Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Rhode Island Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Boston Baroque, and Mercury Orchestra Houston. With the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Fischer performed semi-staged versions of Strauss’ Salome and Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Missy Mazzoli’s first opera, Song from the Uproar, written for her and the NOW Ensemble, is a one-woman show that was premiered at the Kitchen with Beth Morrison Projects, and since then at Los Angeles Opera, Chautauqua Opera, and at Cincinnati Opera.

Ms. Fischer sings the main role of Mrs. X. E. in Du Yun/Royce Vavrek’s Angel’s Bone, which has garnered great success, from the premiere at the Prototype Festival, winning the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Musical Composition, to performances at the Hong Kong New Vision Festival and Beijing Music Festival, to the ultimately canceled performance (due to covid 19) at LA Opera in 2020. Another Prototype premiere was the Mother in Stefan Weisman/David Cote’s Scarlet Ibis. With Gotham Chamber Opera, Ms. Fischer performed Testo in Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and Eva in Martinu’s Comedy on the Bridge.

Known for her “serenely captivating” work in opera, “and disarming intimacy,” (NY Times) Ms. Fischer performed two daring alternative productions of Carmen in Boulder, Colorado, and Rockport, Maine. In the 2016-2017 season, Ms. Fischer reprised the one-woman show Toshio Hosokawa’s The Raven in Bolzano, Italy for her Italian stage debut. She returns to Trento, Italy to sing another Hosakawa opera, Hanjo, in 2021.

Ms. Fischer has sung the title role in Rape of Lucretia with Opera Memphis, has premiered Lee Hoiby’s This is the Rill Speaking with American Opera Projects, has sung Cenerentola with Union Avenue (in Italian) and Salt Marsh Opera (in English), and Angels in America with LA Philharmonic. One of her favorite pieces of music is Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs, which she performed with the Columbus Symphony under the baton of Jean-Marie Zeitouni.

In early music, she has worked with American Bach Soloists in programs of Vivaldi Gloria, Handel La Resurrezione, Porpora De Profundis, and Bach Magnificat; Rebel Baroque Orchestra with Mozart Mass in C and Handel Messiah; Duke Chapel Choir with Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and Handel Messiah; and Early Music New York and Mercury Houston’s programs of Vivaldi motets. At Carnegie Hall with the New York Choral Society in February 2017, Ms. Fischer reprised her role as soloist in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, which she first performed and recorded with Boston Baroque. She looks forward to singing Dido for the third time in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with Ars Lyrica Houston in 2021.

Originally trained as a cellist, Ms. Fischer has worked often as a chamber musician, from Musicians of Marlboro Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, to St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, performing works such as John Harbison’s Crossroads and Respighi’s Il Tramonto. She has premiered Elliot Carter’s Mad Regales and Bernard Rand’s Walcott Songs at Tanglewood Music Festival, numerous John Zorn chamber works all over the world, including Lincoln Center Festival, and Nico Muhly’s Elements of Style, also at Lincoln Center. Creating multi-media work through the chamber music lens has also been a theme, from her work with Da Camera, staging Schoenberg’s Book of Hanging Gardens in Sarah Rothenberg’s project Vienna 1900 and the many stagings of Lee Hoiby’s Bon Appetite to her projects with her husband Jason Slayden, multi-media experiences created around Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder and Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder, titled the beloved and Wesendonck Meditations: Into the Light, respectively.

Recordings of Ms. Fischer’s includes the opera Song from the Uproar (Missy Mazzoli), Angel’s Bone (Du Yun), The Judgement of Midas (Kamran Ince); the oratorios Haydn Lord Nelson Mass (Boston Baroque), Katrina Ballads (Ted Hearne); and the chamber works Variations on a Summer Day (Harold Meltzer), Mothertongue (Nico Muhly), The Quality of Mercy (Patrick Castillo), and numerous works of John Zorn.

A graduate of Eastman School of Music (MM), and Vassar College (BA), Lorenzo di Medici in Florence, Italy (Certificate in Italian language and literature), Ms. Fischer also traversed the summer scenes of Tanglewood Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Marlboro Music Festival, Songfest, and the Chautauqua Voice Program, among others. Ms. Fischer is a sound meditation practitioner and teaches mindfulness through sound and movement as a way to heal and elevate the mind-body.