French-American composer SOPHIE MATHIEU has won numerous awards for her work writing music for film, dance, theatre, and the concert stage. Currently in her third year as a composition major at USC, Sophie currently studies with Andrew Norman. She has won the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s Young Composers Competition four times, was a finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Awards, and was an honorable mention in the FivebyFive ensemble’s call for scores. Sophie’s string quartet, Indigo, was a finalist in the fourth annual String Quartet Smackdown competition. Sophie’s concert works have been performed by performers such as Roomful of Teeth, Hila Plitmann, Ensemble Dal Niente, the NOW Ensemble, Lina Bahn, Timothy Loo, Mak Grgic, and John Pickford Richards. Outside of composition, Sophie performs frequently as a cellist, playing and recording in venues such as Walt Disney Concert Hall, Capitol Records, and the Clint Eastwood Scoring stage. She is also the music director of Concerto Chamber Orchestra, USC’s non-major, student-led orchestra.
About the Piece:
Quartet for Four Double Basses explores the full range of timbres and extended techniques the double bass has to offer. An instrument that is often ignored in solo repertoire and chamber music, the bass has a huge potential for textural variety that many composers aren’t aware of. The piece makes use of several different tunings of the double bass, with one part in solo tuning (F#-B-E-A), two in the standard orchestral tuning (E-A-D-G), and one with a C-extension (C-A-D-G in movements I and III, and D#-A-D-G in movement II). Each movement of the piece showcases a different subset of bass technique, beginning with an exploration of the bow in movement I. It takes advantage of the timbral gray areas between different articulations and contact points. Movement II focuses on harmonics, showcasing the different tunings of the instrument, and the harmonics they each create. Movement III features pizzicato techniques and demonstrates the resonance of the instrument, as well as its greater capability to produce extended pizzicato techniques than other string instruments. Stylistically, Quartet for Four Double Basses relies on loops and supermetrics to achieve a machine-like quality.