Wilco guitarist Nels Cline will join the Grammy-nominated Aizuri Quartet on Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m. for the Moss Arts Center’s livestreamed world premiere of American composer Douglas J. Cuomo’s “Seven Limbs.”
Taking place in an East Coast studio, the performance is part of the center’s HomeStage series and melds Cline’s inventive guitar playing with the classically based, forward-thinking style of the Aizuri Quartet.
One of only a few performances of the work featuring Cline, the event includes a live post-performance conversation with the musicians and composer moderated by Charles Nichols, associate professor of composition and creative technologies in Virginia Tech’s School of Performing Arts.
Ticket holders have access to the HomeStage series performance as it happens and for seven days following the event.
“Seven Limbs” has been described as a virtuosic tour de force filled with melodic beauty, rhythmic urgency, celebration, serenity and unbridled joy. Together, Cline and the Aizuri Quartet approach composer Cuomo’s new musical landscape with an openness and meditative tranquility that parallels the Buddhist practice of the Seven Limbs.
Cline plays electric guitar with effects and acoustic guitar in the work. His music is both notated and improvised, following specific directions and guidelines in the score. The Aizuri Quartet’s music is entirely notated, utilizing a wide range of techniques, colors and effects.
Both strings and guitar are shapeshifters in that the roles of the soloist and accompanist are fluid. At times the guitar is in front with the string quartet playing a more supportive role. At other times the guitar conjures a multilayered and evolving drone-like sonic environment and the strings step to the fore.
Structurally, the piece is a ritual in seven movements, based on the Seven Limbs, a fundamental Tibetan Buddhist practice of purification. The limbs are prostration, offering, confession, rejoicing, requesting the turning of the wheel of dharma, beseeching the Buddha not to pass away and dedication.
Cuomo has written music for concert, operatic and theatrical stages, as well as for television and film. The composer’s expressive musical language with its arresting juxtapositions of sound and style is a natural outgrowth of his wide-ranging background and training.
Cline is best known as the lead guitarist in the band Wilco. His recording and performing career, which spans jazz, rock, punk and experimental, is well into its fourth decade with more than 200 recordings. Cline has received many accolades, including Rolling Stone’s anointing him as one of 20 “new guitar gods” and one of the top 100 guitarists of all time.
The Aizuri Quartet’s debut album, “Blueprinting,” was nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award, and the ensemble was awarded the Grand Prize and the CAG Management Prize at the 2018 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition and took top prizes at the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in Japan and the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition in London.
Tickets are $10 for the general public and free for Virginia Tech students. Tickets can be purchased online, at the Moss Arts Center’s box office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.
Also available is the Spring Fan(fare) Pass, which provides access to all HomeStage events offered through May 31, 2021, guaranteeing a minimum of eight performances. While providing added support for the center, Spring Fan(fare) Pass holders also get exclusive information through regular Fan(fare) Insider emails and are the first to know about new events added to the schedule.