The Rhythm Method: Pastorale


The Rhythm Method string quartet (Leah Asher, Marina Kifferstein, Meaghan Burke, and Carrie Frey) celebrates its 10th anniversary season with the release of Pastorale, featuring three works written for the group by Lewis Nielson, Paul Pinto, and ensemble violinist Marina Kifferstein. Each piece, in its own way, grapples with questions of social awareness, engagement, and collectivism, all of which is consistent with The Rhythm Method's commitment to meaningful artistic inquiry since its inception.


# Audio Title/Composer(s) Performer(s) Time
Total Time 55:54
01String Quartet No. 4 ('I Pass'd A Church')
String Quartet No. 4 ('I Pass'd A Church')
The Rhythm Method18:16
02String Quartet No. 2
String Quartet No. 2
The Rhythm Method11:17
03Pastorale...para los pobres de la tierra
Pastorale...para los pobres de la tierra
The Rhythm Method, Alice Teyssier, flute & voice26:21

Three composers, four poets, and five musicians, playing and singing music crafted with the utmost care and commitment; an album that makes us slow down, question, and feel. Pastorale is a triptych of works composed for The Rhythm Method, each of which expands the borders of the string quartet in innovative new ways. The quartet embraces vocalization, microtonality, extended techniques, and alternative structures among many other techniques, not simply to add to their arsenal, but to cultivate unique expressions with each interpretation.

Paul Pinto’s String Quartet No. 4 (‘I pass’d a church’) is an achingly slow rendering of the composer’s poetic elegy on the labor of rebuilding between Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. With echoes of Robert Ashley and ASMR, the piece takes a magnifying glass to each breath, each bow-hair crackle, blurring the borders between instrument and voice. Pinto’s score anthropomorphizes the creaking sounds of the church itself, as if its worn down structure is exhaling sighs of resignation through the swells of the quartet. What would a building ravaged by storms and embodying the anxiety of a generation facing the specter of climate change sound like if it could sing?

Marina Kifferstein, violinist and co-founder of The Rhythm Method, wrote her haunting String Quartet No. 2 for the last concert before the COVID-19 lockdown. Using just intonation practices and meditative vocalizations, the quartet foregrounds the hidden frequencies of routine musical figures, placing them in direct conflict and harmony with voices in and outside our heads. Pairings of chord tones fade in as others recede, as Kifferstein consistently reframes how our ears interpret each harmony as it morphs into the next. Conventional patterns of tension and resolution are obscured by the introduction of frequencies that prolong conclusive cadential movement.

Finally, Lewis Nielson’s Pastorale .... para los pobres de la tierra, commissioned by International Contemporary Ensemble for soprano/flutist Alice Teyssier and The Rhythm Method, sets texts by Antonio Machado, Pablo Neruda, and Saint Francis of Assisi in a tour de force work for the quintet, drawing on Teyssier and the quartet’s unique skills as vocalists and instrumentalists and weaving a complex musical fabric honoring those who labor and love. Nielson uses the expanded quartet instrumentation to great effect, taking advantage of Teyssier’s double duty on passages that seamlessly flow from flute to voice. He extends the idea of dual roles to the quartet as well, calling for extensive singing from the string players as well—he writes in his program note, “work is required by all parties.” The score percolates with activity throughout, but always fuses together to embody the cohesive collectivism that Nielson finds in the texts and for which he strives in much of his work, within and beyond music.

The quartet will celebrate the release of Pastorale, which coincides with their 10th anniversary as an ensemble, with a performance featuring Alice Teyssier on June 6, 2024 at 8pm at JACK in Brooklyn.

– The Rhythm Method/Dan Lippel

String Quartet No. 4 (‘I pass’d a church’) recorded by Bernd Klug at 368 Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY

String Quartet No. 2 recorded by Michael Hammond at Elebash Hall, CUNY Graduate Center, New York, NY

Pastorale recorded by Michael Hammond at East Side Sound, New York, NY

Mixed and mastered by Bernd Klug

Album art by Leah Asher

Design and layout by Greg W. Locke


The Rhythm Method

Praised as “fierce, fearless, and virtuosic… unapologetically stylistically omnivorous and versatile” (New Music Box) and “trailblazing...skillful composer-performers” (The New Yorker), The Rhythm Method strives to reimagine the string quartet in a contemporary, feminist context. The four performer-composers of The Rhythm Method continually expand their sonic and expressive palette through the use of improvisation, vocalization, graphic notation, songwriting, and theater.

The Rhythm Method has given performances at Roulette, Joe’s Pub, The Stone, the Met Museum, the Morris Museum, and the Noguchi Museum, and has been featured at the Lucerne Festival Forward, on the String Orchestra of Brooklyn’s String Theories Festival, MATA Festival, Music Mondays, TriBeCa New Music, and the Austrian Cultural Forum’s Moving Sounds Festival. The quartet tours regularly both in the US and abroad, and has performed internationally in France, Austria, and Switzerland. The Rhythm Method seeks to nurture ongoing relationships with universities and schools, cultivating multifaceted creativity and musicianship in students of all ages. They have been in residence at Tulane University, Arkansas State University, Zurich University for Art and Music, Hunter College, Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts, and New York University, and they serve as the quartet-in-residence for Lake George Music Festival’s Composers Institute.

This season’s highlights include premieres of new works by inti figgis-vizueta and Victoria Cheah, the release of an album featuring Lewis Nielson’s “Pastorale.......para los pobres de la tierra” for vocalizing string quartet with guest vocalist/flutist Alice Teyssier, performing on the Ukrainian Contemporary Music Festival, collaborating with the Mosaic Composers' Collective, and appearing as ensemble in residence at the Iceberg Institute and Lake George Music Festival's Composers Institute.

The Rhythm Method’s ongoing activities include the Hidden Mothers Project, a programming initiative that highlights works by historical women composers, and Broad Statements, an annual mini-festival celebrating creative music-making by women, non-binary, and gender-expansive people in a wide array of artistic styles.

In March 2022, the quartet released their self-titled debut album, featuring music by all of the quartet members, on Gold Bolus Recordings. Other releases include the 2021 “A Few Concerns,” an album of cellist-singer-songwriter Meaghan Burke’s music, on Gold Bolus Recordings, and the group’s signature Wandelweiser Christmas arrangements, volumes I and II. The Rhythm Method’s recording of “Silence Seeking Solace” (with soprano Alice Teyssier) was featured on Dai Fujikura’s “Chance Monsoon” (SONY Japan).

Alice Teyssier

Flutist and vocalist Alice Teyssier brings “something new, something fresh, but also something uncommonly beautiful” to her performances. A uniquely gifted advocate for new music, Alice has given residencies for composers and performers of new music at such universities as Harvard, Brown, Stanford, Huddersfield, Oberlin and U. Michigan. She has premiered hundreds of works and appeared at the Ojai, Mostly Mozart, June in Buffalo, Big Ears, Resonant Bodies and Huddersfield Contemporary Music festivals. Equally devoted to historically-informed yet inventive performances of early music, she is co-founder of the chamber ensemble La Perla Bizzarra. Alice serves as Clinical Assistant Professor of Performance in the Music Department at NYU.

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