Department of Music News Archive 2022-04-27


Kafka Fragments György Kurtág

Susan Narucki, soprano & Curtis Macomber, violin

Monday, May 2, 2022 at 7:00 P.M.

Conrad Prebys Concert Hall

György Kurtág's Kafka Fragments, Op.24 was completed in 1985 and is a seventy-five-minute work for voice and violin, set to fragments of text from the diaries of Franz Kafka. The work is divided into four parts. The first, third and fourth parts consist primarily of movements that are short in duration and which vary widely in their range of expression. These brief, intense movements are juxtaposed with several extended movements, which serve as a counterbalance, allowing us the opportunity to explore the composer's fantastical sound world more fully.  

I have been performing the piece for over thirty years and am drawn to the limitless range of emotional expression that is created through the fusion of the texts with Kurtág's inexhaustible musical imagination. The piece is a tour de force, exploring the limits of what can be expressed through the combination of voice and violin, an outpouring of wonder, rage, and ecstasy. It is a musical journey that I find to be irresistible.  

On May 2, 2022, I will be presenting the work with my longtime friend and colleague, the American violinist Curtis Macomber, a legendary champion of contemporary music. Curt and I last collaborated on the Grammy nominated CD of music of Kurtág, The Edge of Silence.  

The concert takes place at UC San Diego Department of Music Conrad Prebys Concert Hall at 7:00 p.m. It is free and open to the public. 

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Artist Bios:


For over three decades, American soprano Susan Narucki has forged a unique path; her dedication to the music of our time has led to award winning recordings, critically acclaimed performances with musicians of the first rank and close collaborations with generations of composers. For over a decade, she has been deeply engaged in commissioning, producing, and performing chamber operas that illuminate critical issues in society. Her projects have earned major philanthropic support from the MAP Fund/Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, UC MEXUS, Creative Capital Foundation, New Music USA and multiple awards from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Ms. Narucki commissioned and produced Inheritance, a chamber opera written by Grawemeyer Award winning composer Lei Liang, addressing gun violence in America. Co-presented by ARTPower and the Department of Music at UC San Diego, Inheritance had its premiere performances in October, 2018. Ms. Narucki also commissioned and produced Cuatro Corridos (2013), the critically acclaimed chamber opera that addresses trafficking of women across the U.S.- Mexico border. The opera was performed throughout the United States and Mexico and has had multiple broadcasts on Canal 22, Mexico’s cultural television network. Cuatro Corridos was recorded for Bridge Records and earned a 2017 Latin Grammy Nomination and was a Critic’s Choice of both Opera News and Gramophone.

In November of 2019, Ms. Narucki was nominated for a Grammy for Best Classical Vocal Recording for The Edge of Silence: Vocal Chamber Music of György Kurtág (AVIE Records). The recording was included in the New York Times Best Classical Tracks of 2019 and was named a Critic’s Choice of Opera News.

Ms. Narucki is a Distinguished Professor of Music at UC San Diego. 


Violinist Curtis Macomber is considered one of today’s most versatile soloists and chamber musicians, equally at home and committed to works from Bach to Babbitt, with a discography ranging from the complete Brahms String Quartets to Roger Sessions’s Solo Sonata to the complete Grieg Sonatas. His playing has been praised by the New York Times for its “thrilling virtuosity.” Recognized as a leading advocate of the music of our time, he has performed in hundreds of premieres, commissions, and first recordings of solo violin and chamber works by, among others, Carter, Davidovsky, Perle, Wuorinen, and Mackey. In 2008 he premiered and recorded the Martin Boykan Violin Concerto with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. As first violinist of the award-winning New World String Quartet from 1982 to 1993, Mr. Macomber performed throughout the United States and Europe, and, with the Quartet, recorded 14 discs and was appointed Artist in Residence at Harvard. A founding member of the Apollo Piano Trio, Mr. Macomber has been violinist of the Da Capo Chamber Players since 2007, joined the Manhattan String Quartet in fall 2011, and is a member of the New York Chamber Soloists. He was for many years the violinist of Speculum Musicae and has appeared with the New York New Music Ensemble, Group for Contemporary Music, and Sea Cliff Chamber Players in chamber music series. He is a regular participant at La Musica in Sarasota and at the Monadnock Music Festival. He has recorded for Nonesuch, Koch, Bridge, Arabesque, Naxos, and Musical Heritage; CRI recently released his third solo recording, Casting Ecstatic. Mr. Macomber has been a member of the violin faculty of Manhattan School of Music since 1994 and of the chamber music faculty of the Juilliard School since 1998. He has taught at Tanglewood, Taos, and Yellow Barn. He holds his BM, MM, and DMA degrees from the Juilliard School, where he was a scholarship student of Joseph Fuchs and winner of the Loeb and Naumburg prizes.

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