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String Quartet - Advanced Intermediate
Composed by Thomas Oboe Lee. 21st Century, 20th Century, Romantic Period, Jazz, Latin. Score. 14 pages. Published by Thomas Oboe Lee (S0.11104).
Item Number: S0.11104
Morango ... almost a tango (1983) is about to become a teenager on March 16, 1996. Yikes!!! It is amazing that the work was conceived twelve years ago!!! Originally, it was just a 32-bar jazz tune I performed every Sunday night with the Moon Unit at the 1369 Jazz Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1980-1984.
The string quartet version, although written for the Kronos Quartet, was premiered at "Concert X" by the Composers in Red Sneakers in Sanders Theater, Cambridge, Massachusetts, on July 21, 1983. The "Red Sneakers String Quartet" comprised of Thal Aylward, Melissa Howe, Frank Grimes and Sandy Kiefer. Richard Buell reported in the Boston Globe a few days later that the "doleful Morango ... almost a tango got a lot of mileage out of a stubborn, almost unchanging cello line and the elaborations above it."
The original program note read, " Last summer in Vermont I met Gustavo Moretto, an Argentine composer, who taught me the finer and more beautiful aspects of the Tango. In my modest way, as someone looking in from the outside, I created Morango ... almost a tango - a bastardized version of the 'real thing.' Morango ... is also intrinsically connected to Kate Moran, a sometimes painter ... to whom it is dedicated.
The work is played con sordino throughout. I hope the sirens next door don't intrude too much. But then again, John Cage would be delighted." Eventually, the Kronos got around to performing it on tour in Europe in 1986. When they played it as an encore in Italy at the American Academy in Rome, Mya Tannenbaum of the Corriere Della Sera wrote, "Non sono mancati i bis. Un richiamo al sex appeal del vecchio tango da parte di un giovane «premio Roma», Tom Lee." Soon after, back in the States, the Kronos performed it at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. John Rockwell wrote in the New York Times, " ... a soulfully beautiful score by Thomas Oboe Lee." Three months later the Kronos recorded it on their Nonesuch CD, "White Man Sleeps." Many other string quartets, both here and abroad, have since added the work to their repertory. The Lydian String Quartet, especially, have taken the work on their concert tours in the United States, Europe and the former Soviet Union. It appears on a CD recorded by the Lyds in Moscow on MCA Classics.
As interest in the work grew, other ensembles have requested arrangements of Morango ... There are now three other versions of the work: one for big band jazz ensemble by Ken Schaphorst, another for string orchestra commissioned by Aram Gharabekian and Sinfonova, and the third for violin and piano commissioned by the Paul Chou-Paul Salerni Duo. Of the string orchestra version, Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe wrote, "Lee's piece, Morango ... almost a tango, is a transcription of atmospheric and elegant music originally composed for string quartet; it is as sultry as Faith Domergue in a film noir, and it steams.".
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