Osso Quartet reworkds the whole deal for strings. With
apologies to John Updike, of course!
By Blurt Staff
In 2001 composer and
multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens released
his sophomore album Enjoy Your Rabbit-a collection of 14 electronic
instrumental pieces, each inspired by a different animal of the Chinese Zodiac.
In the time since that record’s release, Stevens has expanded his repertoire to
include collaborations with a number of artists including the Osso Quartet, who contributed string
arrangements to Stevens’ Illinois as well as My Brightest Diamond’s Bring Me the Workhorse. On October 6 Stevens’ own Asthmatic Kitty Records will release
Osso Quartet’s debut recording on CD and LP-a reimagined Enjoy Your Rabbit arranged for the string quartet, titled Run Rabbit Run.
The idea for Run Rabbit Run came to Stevens after he moved to the Ditmas Park
neighborhood of Brooklyn in 2005. Among his
new neighbors were Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National and their sister,
Jessica. Sufjan quickly became friends with the Dessner clan, and Bryce
suggested that Stevens rearrange Enjoy Your Rabbit for his other
neighbors, Rob Moose (violin), Olivier Manchon (violin), Marla Hansen (viola) and Maria Bella Jeffers (cello)-the Osso
Quartet-who had recently collaborated with Stevens on his 2005 release, Illinois.
The project was fully realized when Sufjan approached Jessica Dessner to
contribute artwork to the album based on the original record’s Chinese Zodiac
illustrations created by artist Matt Morgan.
What began as an expression of community amongst the artist-residents of Ditmas Park
expanded to include members of a different artistic community as well. Over the
next year a series of young composers-Nico Muhly, Michael Atkinson, Maxim
Moston and Gabriel Kahane-rearranged pieces from Enjoy Your Rabbit for Run
Rabbit Run. Atkinson’s arrangements premiered at the Bryce Dessner-curated
Music Now Festival in Cincinnati
Osso Quartet began as members of My Brightest Diamond, the project of Stevens’
one-time music director Shara Worden. After touring as members of both Shara
and Sufjan’s bands, the group made its premiere as the Osso Quartet while
engaged as artists in residence at the 2007 Music Now Festival. In
addition to their work with Osso Quartet, each member has a diverse performance
background. Multi-instrumentalist Rob Moose plays with a number of ensembles
including the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall and Antony and the Johnsons. Violinist Olivier
Manchon has performed with a broad selection of artists including Charlie Haden
and the Miniature Chamber Orchestra and played in the Broadway production of
Duncan Sheik’s Spring Awakening. Violist Marla Hansen recorded her debut
EP for Standard Recording and has performed alongside the New Pornographers,
Jay-Z and Kanye West. Cellist Maria Jeffers has recorded with the Polyphonic
Spree along with her work with Sufjan and My Brightest Diamond.