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Aleba & Co. | 134 henry street | New York, NY | 10002 | 212-206-1450 |
June 30, 2015
Aleba Gartner, 212/206-1450
Dave Soldier, "professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University's medical school,
is leading so many lives—one medical, several musical—that you have to wonder
where he finds the time to be all the people he is."
— The New York Times

Neuroscientist/composer/inventor of the cross-genre string quartet


releases two epic collections on Mulatta Records
that span 30 years of solo piano and string quartet music:


In Black and White

Steven Beck performs nearly all of Soldier’s solo piano music on a double CD  |  download  |  spotify stream

In Four Color

PUBLIQuartet performs Soldier’s three string quartets and
Soldier String Quartet performs his shorter quartet pieces on a triple CD  |  download  |  spotify stream


July 21, 2015

(For physical CD's, email
These recordings arrive on the heels of two additional releases
from the eclectic & prolific Dave Soldier:

Smash Hits by the Thai Elephant Orchestra (May 2015 release)
One of Soldier's most celebrated creations,
the Thai Elephant Orchestra consists of 16 elephants
that Soldier trained to improvise on giant custom-made instruments

The Kropotkins: Portents of Love (April 2015 release; spotify stream)
The fourth record by the band described as
"North Mississippi rhythm & blues and fife & drum meet techno & punk rock"
DAVE SOLDIER lives a double life as a composer and neuroscientist. As Dr. David Sulzer, his Sulzer Lab at Columbia University Medical Center is known for its research into Parkinson's Disease, schizophrenia, and drug addiction. His team made international news (including the front page of The New York Times) in August 2014 with a groundbreaking discovery for the possible cause of autism. 

Soldier's musical work—which falls into no existing dominant style—is just as inventive. It embraces and moves classical traditionskids' hip hoppunk rockancient music, and even animal music and mathematics in unexpected directions. 

These companion releases of Soldier's solo piano (In Black & White) and quartet music (In Four Color) dissect and explore the two classic forms of the classical tradition. Together they encompass five hours of compositions spanning thirty years.

Highlights from In Black & White

Letter to Skip James and Letter to Gil Evans are a form inspired by Baroque pieces such as “Tombaeu di Lully,” in this case musical letters to another musician that elaborate on common interests.

Fractals on the Names of Bach and Haydn use fractal patterns, named by mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, in which a complex pattern is formed from a simple phrase overlaid at multiple time scales (in this case the phrases are the letter names of the two composers).

Variations on a Minute Waltz takes the concept of Baroque math variations—like inversion and retrograde—further by using more modern math. Soldier explains: "Two variations are derived by calculus (an integral and first derivative), another removes all the rhythmic information (all the notes are played at once), another abstracts all the pitch information (it is all one note), another is a Fourier transform (don’t ask), and another plays all the pitches that Chopin didn’t write. Finally, the last variation, the inspiration for the piece, is from a musician’s joke that a pianist is so bad that 'it takes him half an hour to play the Minute Waltz.'" In this live performance, Soldier played the Minute Waltz in 23 minutes in concert at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City.

Other pieces range from Hockets and Inventions which develops from Medieval choral music; Girl in Car With Hat, an immensely difficult apotheosis of boogie woogie piano; punk classical music in Five Little Monsters (compare the version for string quartet); and Phong’s Solo, a transcription of an elephant’s improvisation from Soldier’s Thai Elephant Orchestra.

Highlights from In Four Color

On the first CD, the PUBLIQuartet perform each of Soldier’s three full string quartets, each in five movements, written between 1988 and 2011. 

The second quartet, Bambaataa Variations (1992), was inspired by the early hip-hop of the time, and uses themes that Afrika Bambaataa used that he in turn took from other sources, such as riffs from Kraftwerk, as well as a theme from Muddy Waters. The final set of variations is on a theme by Soldier that ends with a joke on how to end an extended piece.

East St. Louis 1968 (1999) for quartet and recording is a portrait of Soldier’s experiences growing up in that area.

The Essential Quartet (Quartet #3, 2011) is constructed from the second movement of Arnold Schoenberg’s second quartet. As in the Variations on a Minute Waltz on the piano recording, these go beyond Schoenberg’s math, with calculus variations and a fractal version of the first five notes of Schoenberg’s piece played in four different time scales to create a complex pattern that never repeats. The first movement can be performed as the musicians trigger their phrases using electroencephalograms, a technology Soldier and Brad Garton developed as the Brainwave Music Project.

The second and third CDs represent a wide variety of compositions and arrangements by Soldier for his quartet in the 80’s and 90’s, for which he played second violin. The Soldier String Quartet, sometimes labeled in the press as “The Ramones of Classical Music,” was the original cross-platform string quartet. They performed in rock clubs (CBGBs performances are on YouTube) and concert halls (Lincoln Center and throughout Europe), usually standing and without music stands, and often with a drummer and vocalists. Soldier’s compositions incorporated R&B, punk rock, deep blues, hip-hop and noise into polyphonic chamber music, and that direction reached its extreme with this repertoire. Quartet members included Regina Carter, Todd Reynolds and others who have since continued on some of these paths.  

Some highlights are Ezekiel Saw the Wheel with Amina Claudine Myers as guest vocalist; Sequence Girls, a 1985 piece inspired by the first female hip hop group; and a transcription of Bo Diddley, whom Soldier played guitar for, featuring vocals by Tiye Giraud and a nice solo by Regina Carter.

Dave Soldier

Dave Soldier is a neuroscientist (Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Pharmacology at Columbia University), composer, and performer. Mostly self taught, he studied composition privately with Roscoe Mitchell, Jeff Langley, and Otto Luening, and violin with Anahid Ajemian (the Composer’s Quartet) and Elwyn Adams. At 20, he toured the U.S. with a Western Swing band and then decided to find a different way to make a living, attending grad school in biology in Gainesville and New York. In Gainesville he played jazz, R&B, and bluegrass including a stint with Bo Diddley.

In New York since 1981, he has worked with many downtown and experimental groups (the Ordinaires, Elliott Sharp, Phill Niblock, Robert Dick), jazz acts (William Hooker, Butch Morris, Henry Threadgill), and arranged and conducted for pop acts (Guided by Voices, David Byrne, Van Dyke Parks, John Cale), appearing on over 100 CDs. He formed the Soldier String Quartet in 1984, which premiered nearly 100 pieces by a wide variety of composers (Leroy Jenkins, Iannis Xenakis, Teo Macero) and worked as John Cale’s band in the 90’s. In 1994 he formed the Memphis-New York punk Delta Blues group, the Kropotkins (named after the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin) and has since released four Kropotkins CDs. 

Soldier’s collaborations include pieces with the Russian expatriate artists Komar and Melamid, including The People’s Choice Music for which he wrote the Most Wanted and Most Unwanted Songs based on a poll of American musical tastes; a full length opera, “Naked Revolution,” with Komar & Melamid; two operatic pieces with the late Kurt Vonnegut; three CDs of music by the “Thai Elephant Orchestra” of the Thai Elephant Conservation Center for whom he built giant musical instruments for 14 elephants; and projects in which he coached children to compose their own music in Brooklyn (The Tangerine Awkestra), Harlem (Da Hiphop Rasklaz), and Guatemala (Yol Ku). Other recordings include Smut, rock settings of ancient Latin homoerotica; a cantata The Apotheosis of John Brown; Chamber Music, named one of the best classical CDs of 2008 by The New York Times; a collection of violin and piano music, The Complete Victrola Sessions; and a collection of organ works performed by Walter Hilse.

His current performing group is SoldierKane, a duo on violin with drummer/guitarist Jonathan Kane, who co-founded Swans and performed for decades with LaMonte Young and Rhys Chatham. With the Nobel Prize winning chemist Roald Hoffmann, Soldier runs a monthly science and art salon called Entertaining Science, at the Cornelia Street Café in New York. With Brad Garton, he formed the Brainwave Music Project and is working on instrumental music by songbirds and DNA. He is writing a new opera based on books of Ancient Egypt with Berkeley scholar Rita Lucarelli and producing recordings of flamenco (Pedro Cortes), Texas music (Vince Bell and Bob Neuwirth), and jazz (John Clark, Jason Kao Hwang, Dan Blacksberg) on his Mulatta Records label.

Steven Beck

Pianist Steven Beck has garnered high acclaim for his performances and recordings worldwide. Highlights of the 2014-15 season include premieres of new piano works by Charles Wuorinen and John Zorn, and performances of Beethoven’s variations and bagatelles at Bargemusic, where he first performed the Beethoven sonata cycle. In addition, he will perform on the New York Philharmonic Ensembles series, and repeat his annual performance of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” on Christmas Eve at the Barge; this has become a New York institution.

Mr. Beck is a frequent performer of contemporary works; he has worked with Elliott Carter, Pierre Boulez, Henri Dutilleux, Charles Wuorinen, George Crumb, George Perle, and Fred Lerdahl, and performed with ensembles such as Speculum Musicae, the Metropolis Ensemble, the New York New Music Ensemble, and the Da Capo Chamber Players.  He is a member of the Talea Ensemble and the Knights. He is also a member of Quattro Mani, a piano duo specializing in contemporary music.

Mr. Beck’s discography includes Peter Lieberson's third piano concerto (for Bridge Records) and a recording of Elliott Carter’s “Double Concerto” on Albany Records. The debut CD of his chamber ensemble “Pleasure is the Law” was released on Boston Records in 2009.


PUBLIQuartet, dubbed “independent-minded” by The New Yorker, presents creative, interactive programming and through a deep commitment to audience inclusion, brings a fresh perspective to the Classical music scene. PQ’s broad repertoire offers innovative programs spanning music from the classical repertoire to contemporary works, original compositions, and open-form improvisations that expand the role and techniques for the traditional string quartet.

Founded in 2010, PUBLIQuartet is dedicated to presenting newly composed works with a focus on supporting emerging composers. PQ was selected as the Concert Artists Guild’s New Music/New Places Ensemble at the 2013 CAG Victor Elmaleh Competition. They were awarded the 2015 CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming for their outstanding and innovative approaches to the programming of contemporary classical, jazz, and world chamber music and the 2013 Sylvia Ann Hewlett Adventurous Artist Prize from Concert Artists Guild.

Soldier String Quartet

Soldier String Quartet, 1985 at CBGBs
The Soldier String Quartet, formed in 1985, performed punk rock and blues along with a wide variety of contemporary classical compositions. They introduced many concepts including a body of work written for the amplified ensemble, the trap set, playing standing and without music stands, and most prominently, absorbing the R&B and punk traditions. In the press they were often called “The Ramones of classical music.” The first violinists were Laura Seaton, followed by Regina Carter and Todd Reynolds, each of whom went on to solo careers, Dave Soldier on second violin, Ron Lawrence or Judith Insell on viola, and Mary Wooten or Dawn Avery on cello, often supplemented by a drummer (Michael Suchorsky) and bassist (Ratso Harris) as well as singers.
Beyond their own repertoire, which was arranged from non-notated music or composed by Dave Soldier, they worked with an enormously broad range of avant-garde classical, jazz, and rock composers, and premiered over 100 pieces. They were John Cale’s band from 1992-1998, performing many tours and recordings. They performed and recorded with Tony Williams, Jessie Harris, Butch Morris, the Plastic People of the Universe, Van Dyke Parks, Lambchop, Guided by Voices, Elliott Sharp, Robert Dick, Teo Macero, Leroy Jenkins, Amina Claudine Myers, Ric Ocask, Lee Renaldo, Jonas Hellborg, Nicolas Collins, Fred Frith, Myra Melford, Zeena Parkins, Joanne Brackeen, Lenny Pickett, Bob Neuwirth, and in the chamber music vein, premiered pieces by Iannis Xenakis, Phill Niblock, and Ivan Wyshnedgradsky. 
For further information, CD's, photos, and to arrange interviews,
please contact Aleba & Co. at 212/206-1450 or
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