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September 8, 2022
More Information:
Matt Browne, 215/438-5282
L-R: David Lang, Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe
Co-Founders and Co-Artistic Directors of Bang on a Can

PRISM Quartet
Bang on a Can


In a delirium by Michael Gordon (premiere)
Cha by Julia Wolfe
Revolutionary Etudes by David Lang

Sunday, September 25, 2022 @ 7 PM  
First Presbyterian Church of Ypsilanti
300 N. Washington St., Ypsilanti, MI 


Tickets: $25 general admission, $20 students & seniors (all fees included)
available at

This concert is open only to fully vaccinated and masked individuals. Anyone wishing to attend must show proof of vaccination – such as a photocopy of a Covid-19 vaccination card – to box office staff at the door.

With over 300 commissions to its credit, the intrepid PRISM Quartet (Timothy McAllister, Zachary Shemon, Matthew Levy, Taimur Sullivan) presents a portrait of Bang on a Can's visionary co-founders in an all-saxophone program featuring the premiere of  In a delirium by Michael Gordon alongside performances of Cha by Julia Wolfe and Revolutionary Etudes by David Lang.

Both PRISM and Bang on a Can were founded in the 1980s with a common dedication to new music, and both evolved independently over decades to present programs of powerful contemporary work on tour and in self-produced concert series and festivals; to establish robust commissioning programs; to launch their own record labels (XAS and Cantaloupe, respectively); and to present educational programs in the service of new generations of aspiring artists. After performing Lang’s sax quartet and subsequently commissioning Wolfe in 2015, PRISM now completes the Bang on a Can’s sax quartet triumvirate with a new commission from Gordon. This program celebrates three extraordinary composers and their invaluable contributions to the field.

In a delirium by Michael Gordon (premiere)
Cha by Julia Wolfe Cha
Revolutionary Etudes by David Lang

Michael Gordon's new work, In a delirium, pushes the bounds of performance practice to realize a fantastical vision of the saxophone quartet. He writes, In a delirium I heard a quartet of fractured saxophones playing the National Space Anthem. They would chase the speed of light and then grind to a halt; ignore each other, like east west north and south, and then come together like a Grand March. They played all the consonants and then all the vowels. When I awoke I wrote this song. It’s just a memory of what I heard, out there, in that other world.”

PRISM commissioned Julia Wolfe for Cha shortly after the passing of her beloved father, to whom the work is dedicated. She writes, My favorite memory is dancing the cha-cha-cha with my father. He would hit the dance floor and take me along with him. We danced together from when I was 10 until sometime into my early teens. It was great fun. As I thought about this way of remembering my dad I began to research the cha-cha-cha, and very quickly realized that our suburban version was hardly like the various Cuban versions with their wild sensuality, polyrhythms, and highly stylized movement. The cha-cha-cha takes its name from the shuffling sound of the feet against the dance floor and first emerged just a few years before I was born. My piece takes the cha cha as a starting point and creates a joyful deconstruction/exaggeration of the style for sax quartet.”

Commissioned by the New Century Quartet, David Lang's Revolutionary Etudes was inspired by the ensemble's recording of The Art of Fugue by J.S. Bach, by, in the composer's words, the monumentality of the project. It is asking to have the saxophone taken seriously, for all that it can do. As a composer I immediately imagined how important for the medium it would be for a composer to take this seriousness, this monumentality into consideration, in the creation of a new work. I started with what became the second movement of my piece, writing seemingly endless streams of notes, trying to trick the melodic and harmonic changes to emerge virtuosically from the dense fabric of the material. Somehow what I was doing reminded me of what Chopin did in his Etude, Opus 10, Number 12—make a ridiculously fast and vaguely minor scale last forever. Chopin’s piece is of course called the Revolutionary Etude. I decided to make a set of these myself."

Cha by Julia Wolfe, commissioned by PRISM Quartet.
Interactive video by Bill Morrison.
Concert Info
The concert takes place on Sunday, September 25th at 7:00 PM at First Presbyterian Church located at 300 N. Washington St. in  Ypsilanti, MI. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $20 for students/seniors (all fees included), and are available at Tickets are only available at the door on the day of the concert.

These concerts are open only to fully vaccinated and masked individuals. Anyone wishing to attend must show proof of vaccination – such as a photocopy of a Covid-19 vaccination card – to box office staff at the door. Musicians and staff members have been vaccinated.

About the Performers

photo by Ara Howrani

PRISM Quartet

The PRISM Quartet 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 by composers at all stages of their careers, 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. 

"An eminent classical saxophone quartet with
an unquenchable thirst for intrigue and adventure."
— Time Out New York


About the Composers

Michael Gordon

Michael Gordon is known for his monumental and immersive works. Decasia, for 55 retuned spatially positioned instruments (with Bill Morrison’s accompanying cult-classic film) has been featured on the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Minimalist Jukebox Festival and at the Southbank Centre. Timber, a tour-de-force for percussion sextet played on amplified microtonal simantras has been performed on every continent, including by Slagwerk Den Haag at the Musikgebouw and Mantra Percussion at BAM. Natural History, a collaboration with the Steiger Butte Drum of the Klamath tribe, was premiered by the Britt Festival Orchestra and Chorus on the rim of Crater Lake (Oregon) by conductor Teddy Abrams and is the subject of the PBS documentary Symphony for Nature. Gordon’s vocal works include Anonymous Man, an autobiographical choral work for The Crossing; the opera What to wear with the legendary director Richard Foreman; and the film-opera Acquanetta with director Daniel Fish. Recent recordings include Clouded Yellow, Gordon’s complete string quartets performed by the Kronos Quartet.



Julia Wolfe

Julia Wolfe

Julia Wolfe’s music is distinguished by an intense physicality and a relentless power that pushes performers to extremes and demands attention from the audience. She draws inspiration from folk, classical, and rock genres, bringing a modern sensibility to each while simultaneously tearing down the walls between them.

The 2019 world premiere of Fire in my mouth, a large-scale work for orchestra and women’s chorus, by the New York Philharmonic with The Crossing and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, received extensive acclaim — one reviewer called the work “a monumental achievement in high musical drama, among the most commandingly imaginative and emotively potent works of any kind that I’ve ever experienced.” (The Nation Magazine) The work is the third in a series of compositions about the American worker: 2009’s Steel Hammer examines the folk-hero John Henry, and the 2015 Pulitzer prize-winning work, Anthracite Fields, a concert-length oratorio for chorus and instruments, draws on oral histories, interviews, speeches, and more to honor the people who persevered and endured in the Pennsylvania Anthracite coal region. Mark Swed of the LA Times wrote, Anthracite Fields “captures not only the sadness of hard lives lost…but also of the sweetness and passion of a way of daily life now also lost. The music compels without overstatement. This is a major, profound work.”

In addition to receiving the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Music, Wolfe was a 2016 MacArthur Fellow. She received the 2015 Herb Alpert Award in Music, and was named Musical America’s 2019 Composer of the Year. Julia Wolfe is co-founder/co-artistic director of New York’s legendary music collective Bang on a Can, and she is Artistic Director of NYU Steinhardt Music Composition.


David Lang

“With his winning of the Pulitzer Prize for the little match girl passion (one of the most original and moving scores of recent years), Lang, once a postminimalist enfant terrible, has solidified his standing as an American master.”
— The New Yorker

David Lang is one of the most highly esteemed and performed American composers writing today. His works have been performed around the world in most of the great concert halls. Lang’s simple song #3, written as part of his score for Paolo Sorrentino’s acclaimed film YOUTH, received many awards nominations in 2016, including the Academy Award and Golden Globe. His opera prisoner of the state (with libretto by Lang) was co-commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Rotterdam’s de Doelen Concert Hall, London’s Barbican Centre, Barcelona’s l’Auditori, Bochum Symphony Orchestra, and Bruges’s Concertgebouw, and premiered June 2019 in New York, conducted by Jaap van Zweden. prisoner of the state received its UK premiere in January 2020 with the BBC Symphony, European premieres are rescheduled for 2022-2023.

2022 has included several noteworthy premieres. sun-centered for the Tallis Scholars — a large scale choral work designed to share a program with Antoine Brumel’s monumental Renaissance mass for 12 voices Missa Et ecce terræ motus (“and the Earth moved”); Song of Songs, a new evening-length work for Pam Tanowitz Dance, commissioned by the Fisher Center at Bard College and touring internationally in 2023; flower, forget me, a song cycle for the noted baritone Benjamin Appl, and composition as explanation, a fully staged reimagination of a 1926 lecture by Gertrude Stein, for the chamber ensemble Eighth Blackbird, directed by the acclaimed Anne Bogart.

Lang is a Professor of Music Composition at the Yale School of Music and is Artist in Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.  He is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York’s legendary music collective Bang on a Can.


This program is presented with generous support from the Michigan Arts and Culture Council, the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, and Meridian Winds.

Michael Gordon's In a delirium, was commissioned by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. Julia Wolfe’s commission, Cha, has been made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund. David Lang's Revolutionary Etudes was commissioned by the New Century Saxophone Quartet.

For further information, press tickets, photos, and to arrange interviews,
please contact Matt Browne at

Copyright © 2022 PRISM Quartet, Inc., All rights reserved.

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