Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Artist Del Sol String Quartet
Title Dark Queen Mantra
Label Sono Luminus - -
Released On 8/25/2017

Sono Luminus announces the August 25, 2017 worldwide release of Dark Queen Mantra, a new recording from Del Sol Quartet featuring new music by Terry Riley and Stefano Scodanibbio. The album includes Terry Riley’s Dark Queen Mantra (2015) written for Del Sol and Terry Riley’s son, guitarist Gyan Riley; Mas Lugares (su Madrigali di Monteverdi) by Stefano Scodanibbio (2003); and Terry Riley’s The Wheel & Mythic Birds Waltz from 1983. Music from the album will be performed by Del Sol, Gyan Riley, and Terry Riley during Del Sol’s Whole Sol Festival, a three-night celebration of the quartet’s 25th anniversary at the San Francisco War Memorial from November 16-18, 2017.

Like many worthwhile endeavors, Dark Queen Mantra began with a friendship. Del Sol violist Charlton Lee first met guitarist Gyan Riley while playing in an ensemble led by the composer/bassist Gavin Bryars. “I’d been wanting to find more opportunities to play with Gyan ever since we met,” Charlton explains. “And with Terry’s 80th birthday on the horizon it seemed a perfect time to commission a new piece for all of us to play together.” The quartet had its first chance to play the music of Stefano Scodanibbio thanks to Gyan Riley, who curated a memorial concert celebrating Scodanibbio’s music at The Stone in New York and invited Del Sol to participate. An avant-garde double bassist, Scodanibbio was also a collaborator of Terry Riley, notably on diamond fiddle language, and so Del Sol pairs his music with Riley’s on this album.

Dark Queen Mantra was commissioned for Del Sol Quartet and guitarist Gyan Riley to mark Terry Riley’s 80th birthday year in 2015. The piece begins brightly with “Vizcaino,” named for the hotel in Algeciras where Riley first stayed on arrival in Spain. The distinctively Spanish opening motive plays with shifting groupings and irregular accents. Riley began writing the second movement, “Goya with Wings,” with Francisco Goya’s paintings in mind. The final movement, “Dark Queen Mantra,” explores a heavier and more insistent groove. As Riley put it, “it gets dark.”

Stefano Scodanibbio’s Mas Lugares (su Madrigali di Monteverdi) refracts Monteverdi through the lens of bassist/composer Scodanibbio’s prodigious timbral imagination. The piece is dedicated to Luciano Berio, another master of transcription and re-invention of music of the past.

In his The Wheel & Mythic Birds Waltz, Terry Riley views an Indian tabla rhythm through a kaleidoscope of possibilities, gently shifting the meter to set it dancing in new ways. Sometimes the music surges forward with sweeping melodies, sometimes it lingers looping in eddies. In a pre-concert talk with Del Sol Quartet in Camptonville, California, Riley revealed that the birds he imagined in the piece came from Anagorika Govinda’s account of Tibetan Buddhism, The Way of the White Clouds. He had been reading the book and wanted to give the birds a dance to do.


Terry Riley: Dark Queen Mantra (2015) with Gyan Riley, guitar
1. I. Vizcaino
2. II. Goya with Wings
3. III. Dark Queen Mantra
Stefano Scodanibbio: Mas Lugares (su Madrigali di Monteverdi) (2003)
4. I. Allegro
5. II. Io mi son giovinetta. Allegro
6. III. Largo
7. IV. Quell’augellin, che canta. Allegro
8. V. Che se tu se’ ‘l cor mio
9. Terry Riley: The Wheel & Mythic Birds Waltz (1983)