Program One:
Hungarian Roots

7:30pm, Friday, March 17
Noe Valley Ministry
1021 Sanchez St. (at 23rd), San Francisco

A new kind of music starting from nothing.”

The first of our three programs, Hungarian Roots, pays homage to György Ligeti's Hungarian-Jewish origins and rhythmic influences, jumping from Hungary's 20th-century master Béla Bartók to folk music of Transylvania. We will also hear several of Ligeti’s earliest great works and enjoy poetry from the Sephardic diaspora set to music by one of Ligeti’s most famous pupils, Roberto Sierra.

Ligeti's early years were anything but ordinary. Born into a Hungarian Jewish family in Transylvania, the impressionable Ligeti soaked up local folk music while formally studying the music of the great Hungarian masters: Bartók, Kodaly, Varess, and others. But when he was only 21, Ligeti was sent to a forced labor camp, and his parents and brother were sent to German concentration camps (only he and his mother survived). After the War, his most innovative compositions, including Musica ricercata, were banned by the Hungarian Communist Party. Yet, throughout all of this upheaval, young Ligeti remained curious, pushing the boundaries of music in directions explored by no other. 

What you’ll be hearing:

Transylvanian Folk Music by the New Moon Trio

Hear this dynamic trio of clarinet, accordion, and bass play the music of Ligeti's birthplace.

Ligeti: Musica ricercata

Described by Ligeti as "a new kind of music, starting from nothing," this piece playfully explores the most basic elements of music, one note at a time.

Ligeti: Sonata for Solo Cello

Banned by the Communist government, this piece was not premiered for a quarter century after it was written. Hear the delicious duality between the first movement, a haunting journey through pizzicato and glissando using the full range of the cello, and the flashy, assertive second movement. 

Bartók: String Quartet No. 2

Bartók’s music had a profound influence on Ligeti’s music in general, and his string quartets were no exception. When he went on to write his two string quartets, Bartok’s group of six were undeniably on his mind.  

Sierra: Songs from the Diaspora

A song cycle by one of Ligeti’s most renowned students. The songs’ texts are derived from verses penned by Jews in 15th-century Spain, who were forced into exile during a politically and religiously motivated expulsion.

Artist Spotlight: Boya Wei, soprano

Performing in Roberto Sierra's Songs from the Diaspora


Boya Wei, from Harbin, China, has been praised by The New York Timesfor her “beautifully rounded soprano and exquisite expression,” and Opera News for her “delicate phrasing and pearly tone.” In 2015, Wei made her Lincoln Center debut singing as a soloist with the New York City Ballet. With appearances at Opera Saratoga, Music Academy of the West, Crested Butte Music Festival, LoftOpera, and Mannes Opera, Wei has studied and performed roles including Beatrice in Il Postino, the First Fairy in The Witches of Venice (the opera’s American premier), Gilda in Rigoletto, Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica, Susanna and Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro, Giulia in La Scala di Seta, the Contessa di Folleville in Il Viaggio a Reims, and Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi