Yarn/Wire performs at Americas Society

Yarn/Wire performs at Americas Society. (Image via Americas Society video)

Music of the Americas: Cuba and Yarn/Wire

This weeks features experimental music from a recent live concert, plus videos by Francesca Khalifa and Momenta Quartet featuring Cuban classical music from the 1930s.

Italian-Egyptian pianist Francesca Khalifa, now based in New York, has performed with orchestras throughout the world and studied in Italy, Austria, and the United States. She has conducted extensive research on the music and pedagogy of Cuban composer Alfredo Diez Nieto, who died last month. On October 31, Khalifa gave a recital dedicated to Diez Nieto’s music at the Greenwich Music House, the recorded the videos from which we will release for En Casa this week.

Recuerdos takes us back to an early twentieth-century piece by Alejandro García Caturla performed by the Momenta Quartet as part of our 2021 virtual season.

Alfredo Diez Nieto: "Recuerdos"

Monday, November 15, 10 a.m.

Alfredo Diez Nieto was a Cuban pianist, composer, conductor, and educator who received several prizes and recognitions in Cuba and abroad over his long career. He founded the Musical Institute of Folkloric Research alongside musicologist Odilio Urfé in 1949, with the aim of collecting, studying, and disseminating Cuban popular music. Since 1967, he”s also organized and directed the Orquesta Popular de Conciertos, made up of musicians from different dance orchestras and military bands, retired instrumentalists, and amateurs. Diez Nieto died in Havana this October, just hours before turning 103.

This week we will share two of his Estampas, composed in 1938, when he was only 17. The first, titled “Recuerdos,” is dedicated to his teacher, Cuban composer and flutist Jaime Prats, one of the pioneers of jazz on the island.

Khalifa's videos were made possible with support from the New York City Artist Corps.

Alfredo Diez Nieto: "Lamento esclavo"

Tuesday, November 16, 10 a.m.

Diez Nieto's “Lamento esclavo” is the second of his Estampas dedicated to another of his teachers, Amadeo Roldán, who was 20 years his senior and at the time of the composition already one of the leading composers in the Cuban classical scene, with a stellar international career as a composer and violinist.

Momenta Quartet: Alejandro García Caturla

Wednesday, November 17, 10 a.m.

Alejandro García Caturla and Amadeo Roldán are often considered the founding fathers of symphonic music in Cuba and the leading composers in the country in the early twentieth century. The lives of the two composer-violinists, who played together in the Orquesta Sinfónica de La Habana in the 1920s, followed similar paths. While Roldán, born in Paris, studied in Madrid before moving to Havana in 1922, Caturla, who was a few years younger, spent time in Paris studying with Nadia Boulanger later in that decade. Both died very young and at the height of their creativity. Their styles combine European classical techniques with Afro-Cuban rhythms and themes to stunning effect.

Caturla's music is not well known, but Canadian violist Stephanie Griffin, founding member of the intrepid Momenta Quartet, has been involved in efforts to popularize it in the United States for over 20 years. In 2021, Momenta Quartet presented their week-long Momenta Festival on our virtual stage—they will be back onstage in June 2022—and included Caturla's Piezas para cuarteto de cuerdas, written in 1926–1927, on the third night, curated by violinist Emilie-Ann Gendron. This is the last of these pieces in the collection, “Danza cubana,” performed by Emilie-Ann Gendron, Alex Shiozaki, Stephanie Griffin, and Michael Haas of Momenta Quartet.

Alfredo Diez Nieto: "Tocata"

Thursday, November 18, 10 a.m.

Diez Nieto composed “Tocata” in 1947. It is a kaleidoscopic tour de force for the piano, full of riveting contrasts.

Yarn/Wire: Hilos de viento

Friday, November 19, 7 p.m.

Release of the video of Yarn/Wire's concert at Americas Society.

The new music quartet returned to our stage live with premieres by Taylor Brook, DM R, and Andrés Guadarrama on November 5. Watch the video of the concert and chat with ensemble members.


The MetLife Foundation Music of the Americas concert series is made possible by the generous support of Presenting Sponsor MetLife Foundation.

The Fall 2021 Music program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the Howard Gilman Foundation.

Howard Gilman Foundation

Additional support for the Yarn/Wire concert comes from the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and The Amphion Foundation, Inc.

The Alice Ditson Fund    The Aaron Copland Fund     The Amphion Foudation