The Modern Mandolin Quartet was formed in 1985 to give a new voice to that most American of musical instruments, the mandolin. Following the tradition of the mandolin orchestras and chamber groups from the early twentieth century, the MMQ uses the instruments of the mandolin family which correspond to the conventional string quartet (two mandolins, mandola, and mandocello).
The Modern Mandolin Quartet began recording in 1988 with Windham Hill/BMG; they have released five albums to date, with sales in excess of 130,000 units worldwide. In addition to their own albums, the group appears on samplers from Polygram Records, Well Tempered Productions, and Acoustic Disk. In 1994 the Quartet received a National Endowment for the Arts Chamber Music grant to tour and perform new American music. They are the 1995 recipients of a grant from the Meet the Composer/Lila Wallace - Reader's Digest Fund Commissioning Program, which funded David Balakrishnan's Interplay and Tully Cathey's Elements. These works premiered in 1997 at Merkin Hall in New York City; both are featured on their new release Interplay.
The Modern Mandolin Quartet members are Dana Rath and Matt Flinner (mandolins), Paul Binkley (mandola), and Gyan Riley (mandocello). The members of the Quartet come from diverse backgrounds including classical, jazz, rock, and folk.
To date the Quartet has arranged and performed over 100 works originally written for orchestra, chamber ensemble, piano, guitar, and string quartet, including arrangements of traditional classical music (Vivaldi, Bach, Corelli, Mozart, Ravel, Bernstein), string quartets (Mozart, Bartok, Dvorak, Villa-Lobos, Terry Riley), music from the mandolin's historical roots, (American Bluegrass, Brazilian Choro, Italian folk songs), and commissioned works ( David Jaffe, Tully Cathey, David Balakrishnan, Philip Bimstein, Larry Polansky, and Edgar Meyer).
Matt Flinner is widely considered one of the hottest mandolin players on the acoustic scene. He started out as a prodigy who was playing bluegrass festivals before he entered his teens, and won the national banjo contest at Winfield Kansas in 1990, and the mandolin award there the following year. He then attended the University of Utah at Salt Lake City where he obtained a degree in composition and performed with the Utah Symphony. Flinner has two solo album releases to his credit, The View From Here and Latitude, which feature an all-star cast of acoustic players including Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, David Grier and Darol Anger.
Dana Rath, mandolinist, has devoted his musical career to reawakening interest in the mandolin family instruments. He has worked with The Berkeley Mandolin Ensemble, the Rudy Cipolla group, the Hotzeplotz Klezmer Orchestra and is a founding member of The Modern Mandolin Quartet. His interest in classical mandolin began while studying classical guitar at Loyola University in New Orleans. He then studied in Europe with mandolin virtuoso Keith Harris. Other instructors include Gertrud Troester, Emmanuel Sheynkmann and Andy Statman. Dana has recorded new works by Alexis Alrich and Larry Polanski for Opus One Records. He has also performed with the Berkeley Symphony and Louisville Symphony and has played mandolin, guitar and banjo for San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater.
Paul Binkley plays mandola and guitar with the Modern Mandolin Quartet and also contributes many of the group's arrangements. Paul completed his Bachelor of Music degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and his Master of Arts in Music degree at San Francisco State University, majoring in guitar performance. Paul has been an ensemble player with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the San Francisco Opera, Ballet, and Symphony,the Berkeley Symphony and many other orchestras. He is guitar instructor at Mills College. He has also recorded contemporary pieces for Opus One Records and Centaur Records. Other recording credits include the San Francisco Symphony recording of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet with Michael Tilson Thomas.
Gyan Riley, born in California in 1977, is a guitarist/composer. He completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the first graduate level guitarist ever to be awarded a full scholarship there. He received First Prize in the 1999 Portland Guitar Festival Competition and First Prize in the 2001 San Francisco Conservatory Guitar Concerto Competition. He performed in the Bremen Musikfest '98 in Bremen, Germany and the New American Music Festival '98 in Sacramento, California, both as a soloist and a duo partner with David Tanenbaum. Other performances include piano-guitar duos with his father Terry Riley at the Muenchner Klaviersommer '99 Festival in Munich, worldwide tours with Terry Riley and the All-Stars, the Festival Sitar-Guitar in Rome, and the San Francisco Symphony premiere of John Adams' El Nino with Dawn Upshaw.
Check out the artist's website:
1. El Noy de la Mare
2. La Nit de Nadal
3. El Testamente de n'Amelia
4. Cancion del Lladre
5. Miniature Overture
7. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
8. Russian Dance (Trepak)
9. Arabian Dance
10. Chinese Dance
11. Dance of the Mirlitons
12. Waltz of the Flowers
17. Flower Duet from Lakme