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PRISM Quartet

announces the long-awaited world premiere in NY & PA
of a fully staged evening of new music, poetry, and light:


Originally scheduled for March 2020, then halted by COVID-19,
the Dutch opera director Jorinde Keesmaat rethinks and restages
Mending Wall for our changed world and new walls.

Music for saxophone quartet, soprano Tony Arnold, pianist Arturo O'Farill

The Composers:
George Lewis | Arturo O'Farrill | Juri Seo | Martin Bresnick

Poems by:
Robert Frost | Keorapetse Kgositsile 
Waly Salomão | Guillermo Gómez-Peña

Stage Director: Jorinde Keesmaat 
Lighting Design: Aaron Copp



Greater Philadelphia:
February 12, 2022 at 3 PM and 8 PM
Co-presented by
Bryn Mawr College Performing Arts Series and PRISM Quartet, Inc.
Goodhart Hall, McPherson Auditorium
150 N. Merion Ave. | Bryn Mawr, PA
$20 General Admission; $18 Seniors;
$10 Students (outside of the Tri-Co); $5 Children

February 14, 2022 at 8 PM
Co-presented by
Roulette and PRISM Quartet, Inc.
509 Atlantic Ave. | Brooklyn, NY
General Admission Presale $20, Walkup $25; Student/Senior Walkup $20


Attendees must abide by Bryn Mawr College and Roulette proof of vaccination, mask-wearing, and other safety requirements
in order to attend Mending Wall performances. 


Visit the website for photographs from workshops, artist blog posts, and more:

The recording of Mending Wall will be released
in December 2022, on XAS Records.
Clockwise from top left:
Composers George Lewis, Arturo O'Farrill, Martin Bresnick, Juri Seo
From Jorinde Keesmaat, Director of Mending Wall:
"Nearly two years after the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the premiere of Mending Wall, the production itself has evolved in response to this global blaze. Through new staging and lighting, we are exploring the paradox of personal contact: our simultaneous discomfort with strangers and our intrinsic longing for human connection, the psychological effects of isolation and our basic need for one another's warmth. Mending Wall still examines the complicated meaning of boundaries—physical and invisible—but it's also about fear giving way to hope."

In February 2022, the omnivorous all-sax ensemble PRISM Quartet presents MENDING WALL, its most ambitious project to date. This boundary-pushing production was originally scheduled for March 2020, but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it will finally come to life onstage, with new direction that explores the ways the pandemic has affected us all.

Named after the 1914 poem by Robert Frost, Mending Wall is a fully staged concert exploring the meaning of walls in our world by giving musical form to questions about identity, community, division, and freedom.

Mending Wall began as a response to the symbol of a wall as a dehumanizing force during America’s recent zeal for wall-building," says Matthew Levy, PRISM's co-founder, executive director, and tenor saxophonist. "As artists, we’re called to build another kind of structure: a collaborative experiment that restores mystery, complexity, and generosity to our encounters with one another. Mending Wall amplifies a range of musical and poetic voices; our hope is that the project will illuminate and help us to confront and mend fractures in our human community.”

Soprano Tony Arnold and pianist Arturo O’Farrill join PRISM Quartet (Matthew Levy, Timothy McAllisterZachary Shemon, and Taimur Sullivan) in world premiere performances of newly commissioned works by four visionary composers: Martin Bresnick, George Lewis, Juri Seo, and O’Farrill. Each composer took inspiration from poetry of their choosing: Bresnick from Frost; Lewis from South Africa's Keorapetse Kgositsile; Seo from Brazil's Waly Salomão; and O'Farrill from the Mexican/Chicano performance artist, writer, activist, and educator Guillermo Gómez-Peña. Jump to the program details here

Staging and lighting are central to this project. The Dutch opera director Jorinde Keesmaat, known for immersive multidisciplinary work that plays with the relationship between spectator and actor/musician, choreographs movement among the artists, building a powerful, mobile integration of music, poetry, and light. The ingenious lighting design, which involves the musicians themselves manipulating walls of wireless LED RGBW light-batons, is by Aaron Copp, whose recent projects include lighting shows for Yo-Yo Ma, Natalie Merchant, Maya Beiser, Miami City Ballet, Eliot Feld, and more. 

In December 2022, Mending Wall will be released as a commercial album on XAS Records, distributed by Symphonic Distribution.
Soprano Tony Arnold
Stage director Jorinde Keesmaat and Lighting Designer Aaron Copp

Mending Wall's Four Works

Martin Bresnick’s commission, Mending Time, is inspired by the contradictions in Frost’s poem “Mending Wall,” in which two neighbors meet yearly to rebuild the structure separating their farms. Bresnick writes, “According to Frost we are trapped and doomed by fences to eternal contact and inevitable alienation. But what if the walls between us were made of music?”
In Where Her Eye Sits, George Lewis set texts examining the legacy of apartheid by the late South African poet and activist Keorapetse Kgositsile, who after years of exile became poet laureate of post-apartheid South Africa. The piece joins PRISM and soprano Tony Arnold “to link a coloratura’s sonic sensibility with the saxophone’s evocation of South African popular music via mbube-like orchestration.”

Juri Seo's Unsung Lullaby is inspired by Algaravi: Echo Chamber, a volume of poetry by Syrian-Brazilian writer Waly Salomão. In her work, Seo explores the dual meaning of “echo chamber”—the figurative connotation that’s ubiquitous in our politics/media, and its older (and literal) meaning, a walled space that repeats, amplifies, and distorts sounds.

Arturo O’Farrill’s Something to declare? (yeah, fuck your wall) is based on “Freefalling Toward a Borderless Future” by Guillermo Gomez Peña and son jarocho, a Mexican song form with a lead trovador voice supported by jaranas (guitar-like instruments), which PRISM’s saxophones approximate. His piece draws upon the rich political/cultural underpinnings of Fandango Fronterizo, an annual festival on both sides of the San Diego/Tijuana border fence.

Please visit the detailed Mending Wall Website to learn more. It includes photographs from workshops, artist statements from the project's stage director and composers, information about Mending Wall poets, a project blog, ticket links, and more. 


UNSUNG LULLABY (2019) by Jury Seo (b. 1981)
Inspired by "Algaravias: Echo Chamber" by Waly Salomão (1943-2003),
translated by Maryam Monalisa Gharavi
Performed by PRISM Quartet
Poetry read by Tony Arnold and PRISM Quartet

MENDING TIME (2019) by Martin Bresnick (b. 1946)
Inspired by “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost (1874-1963)
Performed by PRISM Quartet
Poetry read by Tony Arnold and Arturo O'Farrill

WHERE HER EYE SITS (2019) by George Lewis (b. 1952)
A setting of "Where Her Eye Sits" by Keorapetse Kgositsile (1938-2018)
Performed by Tony Arnold and PRISM Quartet

SOMETHING TO DECLARE? (yeah, fuck your wall) (2019) by Arturo O’Farrill (b. 1960)
Inspired by “Freefalling Toward a Borderless Future” by Guillermo Gomez-Peña (b. 1955)
Performed by Arturo O'Farrill and PRISM Quartet
Poetry read by Tony Arnold, Arturo O'Farrill, and PRISM Quartet

For scores and texts, please email

PRISM Quartet

"One of America's finest saxophone quartets"
— The New Yorker

PRISM Quartet rehearsing Mending Wall.
Clockwise from top left: Timothy McAllister, soprano; Taimur Sullivan, baritone; 
Zachary Shemon, alto; Matthew Levy, tenor. Photos by Jon Rohrer.
The PRISM Quartet (Timothy McAllisterZachary ShemonMatthew Levy, and Taimur Sullivan) seeks to place the saxophone in unexpected contexts, chart fresh musical territory, and to challenge, inspire, and move audiences. “A bold ensemble that set the standard for contemporary-classical saxophone quartets” (The New York Times), PRISM has been presented by Carnegie Hall and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; appeared as soloists with the Detroit Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra, and conducted residencies at the nation’s leading conservatories, including the Curtis Institute and the Oberlin Conservatory. PRISM has commissioned hundreds of works, from talented students to recipients of the Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Fellowship. PRISM’s discography is extensive, with releases on Albany, BMOP/Sound, ECM, innova, Koch International, Naxos, and its own label, XAS Records. The PRISM Quartet plays Selmer saxophones exclusively. 


Major support for Mending Wall has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from Chamber Music America, The Presser Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, New Music USA, the Musical Fund Society, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature,  the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York, and Conn-Selmer, Inc.

Please visit for the complete funding credit.


For further information, press tickets, photos, and to arrange interviews,
please contact Aleba & Co. at 212/206-1450 or

Copyright © 2021 PRISM Quartet, Inc., All rights reserved.

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