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What does 'home' sound like in music?

The Austin-based Miró Quartet.
Jeff Wilson
The Austin-based Miró Quartet.

Austin's Miró Quartet has a new album out, just released in May, called Home. It's music by all American composers, and it's all about our various ideas of home and what it can be.

We caught up with the quartet's John Largess, who shared some of the song's music and talked a bit about it. One piece, commissioned for the group by Kevin Puts, was inspired by the Syrian refugee crisis — hundreds of thousands fleeing from civil war. Says Largess, the piece "evokes the security, the joy, the peace" of being in one's home, and then "quickly gets into things a bit more uncertain, a bit more challenging, a bit more dissonant" as it explores the refugees' feelings of displacement. Largess says the group loves the piece's "virtuosic writing," but "it's also a great message: we'll always be all wrestling with these ideas of identity and home and leaving home."

There's also music by Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw. "We love your spirit and your sound and everything you're doing, so please write us something," they told her. She agreed, and the result is "Microfictions," included on this album.

Composers George Walker and Samuel Barber also show up: Barber's famous "Adagio," which is really one movement of a string quartet, gets a rare airing in its original context here. Largess reminds us that "it was played by Toscanini and the NBC Radio Symphony the day after Pearl Harbor," and since then it's been a centerpiece of American classical music.

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Barry Brake is a composer, jazz and classical pianist who has been a part of San Antonio's music scene for decades. You can find his musings and musical exploits online here: http://barrybrake.com/