Premiere of Classical Piece Connects Far-Away Places
A German quartet debuts a work by a composer who grew up in Yellow Springs
April 4, 2008
By Carol Simmons, Dayton Daily News

YELLOW SPRINGS — A spiritual sense of place is the personal landscape on which New York-based composer Drew Hemenger constructed his new work Three Inner Moments (String Quartet No. 2), which received its world premiere Sunday evening in Yellow Springs.

Performing the piece as part of its appearance on the Chamber Music Yellow Springs series was the internationally acclaimed Vogler String Quartet from Berlin, Germany.

Deceptively simple in its conception, the work needed an ensemble of the Vogler's musical caliber to bring it to life, although it was interesting to note the fact that a German group was responsible for unveiling such a decidedly American piece.

For the place – or rather, the three places – that figure in Hemenger's work are part of a thoroughly American landscape and psyche: Glen Helen, in Yellow Springs, where Hemenger grew up; Union Square, Manhattan, days after 9/11; and Fire Island, New York, where Hemenger vacations.

But the work of an artist is to take the personal and find the universal, which is what Hemenger – who was in attendance Sunday – has done, finding in each place not only personal significance, but also metaphoric places where both loss and hope intertwine in poignant harmony – a human experience with significance for all.

Sunday evening's concert also featured a zesty rendering of Haydn's Quartet in E-flat Major, and a memorably sublime performance of Beethoven's Quartet in E Minor, Op. 39, No. 2.

A very special night for all.