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The Mossa Bildner Ensemble Performs New Work: T. S. Eliot's "Four Quartets" on February 29th

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Cornelia Street Cafe, February 29, 6:00pm

Musical Meditations on Time, Eternity, Temporality


New York, NY: Brazilian American composer and vocalist, Mossa Bildner has developed a new improvisational work in 10 excerpt-parts inspired by T. S. Eliot's masterpiece set of four poems, the “Four Quartets." In concert with musicians, bassist Ken Filiano, together with Charlie Rauh, guitar, Mercedes Figueras, sax, and Christine Bard on drums, she will perform the piece Wednesday evening, February 29th, at 6 pm, $10.00 cover.

Ms. Bildner recounts how the project came to be: “My musical ideas spring from the words and images or ideas of poets. I have always loved T. S. Eliot and had thought about doing one of his works. Somehow “Four Quartets" seemed to be the most “transparent." I spent about 3 months reading them over and over until I discovered the sections that seemed the most “singable" to me. Naturally there is so much to choose from. Then I had to bear in mind the balance between what I would do and what the improvising soloists would be doing."

T. S. Eliot published “Four Quartets" between 1936-1942 against the backdrop of World War II and was subsequently awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. The four poems explore philosophical and mystical themes of time, eternity, and the divine, and lead to transcendent moments of illumination.

The “timeless" quality of the poet's “Four Quartets" gains newer contemporary musical dimensions through Ms. Bildner's project. Ms. Bildner's sung excerpts of Eliot's poetry represent an analogous triumph of creativity over the temporal nature of musical improvisation. Her vocal work in this piece remarkably encompasses her influences from opera, jazz and Afro-Brazilian ritual. Her voice soars from her mastery of glorious opera to the unfettered liberation of free form jazz and extended vocal technique.

Having worked with such luminaries in the avant jazz world as Henry Threadgill, Mark Dresser, Butch Morris, Connie Crothers, Leroy Jenkins, Karl Berger and other trailblazers, Ms. Bildner is well-known in the world of improvised music. Her life has been filled with global journeys where she studied many of the world's musical styles including Brazilian popular, European classical, jazz, and the spiritual musical traditions of Brazil, Morocco, and Sephardic Spain. She has also worked with international stars including Duduka da Fonseca, Simon Shaheen, Hassan Hakmoun, and Brahim Frigbane. She is well-suited to the challenge of T. S. Eliot's profoundly beautiful “Four Quartets" with its allusions to Indian mystical philosophy.

She praises her Eliot project musicians: “Ken Filiano, the bassist, is my touchstone in this project as he is a never ending fountain of musical invention and leads me to the frontier of my voice where I must cross over into  the unknown, much as T. S. Eliot says at the end of “Four Quartets," ..."into the unknown, unremembered gate." Charlie Rauh is a young, recently arrived in New York City guitarist whose idiosyncratic style reflects his and my own interest in early renaissance music and this is why its such a pleasure to play with him. Christine Bard is a drummer I have been working with over the past year and she never fails to surprise me, as if she anticipates where I can go next; again this is another musician who brings singular technique and artistry to the project. Lastly, Mercedes Figueras, whose  tenor sax work  I have become aware of during our time last year with Karl Berger's weekly Orchestra  at  the Stone, is a superb example of a younger generation of players coming out of Argentina."

Mossa Bildner reflects about the “Four Quartets," “These are ruminations on time itself—repetition, retrenchment, dissolution of the material world..." as she quotes Eliot, “Music heard so deeply / That it is not heard at all, but you are the music / While the music lasts."

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