Skip to main content

Fall Sony Project 2023 Anchored by Grammy-Nominated Quartet San Francisco

Latest SFCM News
News Story

Quartet San Francisco was tapped by Technology and Applied Composition faculty Matt Levine to help students realize their scores in the biannual project.

December 13, 2023 by Alex Heigl

SFCM's recurring Sony Project brought some GRAMMY-nominated friends into the studio this fall: Quartet San Francisco.

Jeremy Cohen (Credit: Hasain Rasheed)

Jeremy Cohen (Credit: Hasain Rasheed)

Jeremy Cohen, violinist and leader of the three-time-nominated group, says that he met Technology and Applied Composition (TAC) faculty Matt Levine while working on a previous project, and "clicked in terms of the work process and had such a good time working together." The Quartet specializes in performing works by composers not traditionally associated with chamber music, such as odd-meter jazz maestro Dave Brubeck and tango compositions, and it's this forward-thinking programming—along with the unerring sense of time—that made the group perfect for the project. Cohen, a student of Itzhak Perlman, started Quartet San Francisco in 2000 to explore music that was inspiring to the QSF players and the audience alike. They continue to bring traditional rigor to the forefront of contemporary production, a concept aligns organically with the progressive culture of the TAC program.

As with previous sessions,  Sony Interactive Entertainment's Director of Music Peter Scaturro was on-hand to help with the day-long project, which sees students recording works they've spent the semester working on, conducted by TAC faculty Daria Novoliantceva. TAC students also assist with the recording and engineering side of the session, running Pro Tools and setting up SFCM's Studio G to record ensembles of varying sizes. 

"There's a different kind of pressure to the whole recording process," Cohen said. "You don't want to make a $5,000 mistake for squeaking chairs or buttons clicking. We're clearing the room for all those factors." He adds, "the students that played with us are first-class, great humans and really great players, but they haven't clocked the hours in the studio that we have or developed the communication we have."

Matt Levine (left) and Daria Novoliantceva set up for the Fall 2023 Sony Project.

Matt Levine (left) and Daria Novoliantceva set up for the Fall 2023 Sony Project.

Cohen lauds the "fantastic" TAC program as "living in the now" and is enthusiastic about what that bodes for students' futures. "Studies of the materials from the past are obviously critical to learn for everybody to play the level at which they play," he says, "but this is so contemporary in terms of the music produced, the way it's being worked on. It's a whole new kind of generation of music production that the students who take part in are going to have so much training in by the time they graduate."

SFCM's Studio H during the Fall 2023 Sony Project.

SFCM's Studio H during the Fall 2023 Sony Project.

With an ear for tricky rhythms, Cohen was especially impressed with the level of the student compositions, stating that "every piece was a winner", and some of them were "straight-up gorgeous!” He continued, "Matt is looking out for them at all levels of their development. The use of voicings and internal rhythms, the interplay and counterpoint really tells me that these students are not only learning on the tech side, but that their composition skills are really, really good." 

Video URL

San Francisco fingers will be crossed for the Quartet at the 2024 GRAMMY Awards, where their recording of "Cutey and the Dragon," arranged by modern big band icon Gorodon Goodwin, is up for Best Instrumental Composition. Based off an unfinished sketch by the late iconoclast composer Raymond Scott, it appears on their 2023 album Raymond Scott Reimagined.

Learn more about studying Technology and Applied Composition at SFCM.