The inspiration for Dan Visconti’s new concerto for SYBARITE5 is America’s rich heritage of folk and vernacular styles. The 15‐minute work is a journey across a varied musical landscape colored by lyricism, directness of expression, and rhythmic drive. The piece reflects the energy and free‐wheeling spirit of improvisation and shows off SYBARITE5 both as a unit and through emphasis on individual solo playing, with the orchestra’s backbeat propelling the work forward. A rich palette of timbres and special playing techniques infuses the music with the raw, virtuosic character of improvised styles. The work was debuted in the 2014‐ 2015 season with orchestras include the Duluth‐Superior Symphony Orchestra, Midland Symphony and the South Carolina Philharmonic. Instrumentation: Double winds (with standard doubling), 2 percussion and strings 

gorgeous...there was no denying the virtuosity of the visiting musicians.
— Duluth News Tribune
They are truly superb players...BEATBOX takes advantage of just about every special effect possible on each string instrument...Exciting stuff.
— Free Times

With New Music Idol, Sybarite5 brings the energy of American Idol to colleges and universities by partnering with composition departments across the country to create and showcase new student works for string quintet.  As part of each residency, Sybarite5 provides 10-12 participating students with scores, recordings and videos of new works written for the ensemble along with educational materials covering basic guidelines for writing music for stringed instruments and extended techniques.  Students then work directly with the musicians of Sybarite5 and their regular faculty to discover how they can successfully use these new techniques to express their individual musical voices and foster creativity.   

Over the course a semester, each student works with their faculty to compose a short two-minute work for Sybarite5.  Once the drafts of their compositions are finished, Sybarite5 reads them for the first time and provides feedback as part of the collaborative workshop process. The pieces are revised if needed, and when completed, performed for the class by Sybarite5 as part of a final workshop. 

Since every composition deserves a live performance with a live audience, New Music Idol culminates with a concert experience where the completed works are performed in an American Idol setting, complete with real time critique from panel of local celebrity judges and eccentric hosts. At the end of the evening, the New Music Idol winner is chosen by the audience via a live text-to-vote system. The winning piece is then performed again the following evening in a formal concert setting as part of Sybarite5’s setlist on their popular concert program Everything in its Right Place. New Music Idol transforms classical music composition into something both relevant and exciting for audiences, composers and performers.

“New Music Idol was the best residency activity I have ever seen or heard of. As one of the composition teachers here at UNR, I was able to judge firsthand throughout the entire process how exciting and educationally stimulating it was for my students. I have never seen them more thoroughly engaged! Sybarite5 treated these young composers with all of the respect and cooperation they would have given the most notable established writer, showing total dedication to the preparation of the scores and offering no end of positively-couched, helpful advice on how to improve them. The quality level of the resultant premieres was such that those students will remember and measure against it all others of their compositional lives. Bravo all around! As a member of the P.A.S. selection committee, I will certainly be advocating inviting them back in due course.” 

-Dr. James Winn, University of Nevada.

Sybarite5 also partners with higher education composition departments to create and showcase new student works in a non-competitive workshop process.  Much like New Music Idol Students start with examples of recently commissioned works for Sybarite5 to study.  Then, aided by composition faculty, students write new short works for Sybarite5 throughout the semester. Sybarite5 works directly with the students beforehand via email and Skype and arrives early in person to workshop the pieces and help the students achieve their musical goals.   Not all composers are keen on the competitiveness of American Idol and this program allows for students to experience the premier performances of their work in an inclusive and safe environment.

“It is distinctive, it is exceptionally well done, and it connects in such meaningful ways with places like Luther where music is so deeply valued.  It offers such meaning and purpose to the student composers.  I cannot even begin to explain how wonderful the Thurs night performance of the compositions was. This is perhaps one of my most favorite nights of artist and student interaction ever. 

There are other groups "like" Sybarite5 who add a significant amount of drama to their "classical crossover" repertoire.  They don't fit in that genre.  Sybarite5 represents the very best of the new generation of chamber music.  They are passionate in their mastery, exceptional in their playing, and infectious in their spirit.  They love exceptionally well-played music that is complex and beautiful and intriguing and then they invite us into it with them.  Each piece--whether Radiohead, Piazzolla, or Mozart seems a little luxury to relish. And, in this, they honor exceptional music without predetermined notions of value--and therefore it opens and offers the audience to so much more. I am struck that not only do they offer this to us, but they are nourishing their own dedication to great music in this way by intentionally working to support and guide and nourish new generation classical composers through their residency composition projects.” 

-Tanya Gertz, Luther College