Zachary Mowitz

suite talk


A series of interactive performances exploring the cello’s journey through time and the ways its history enhances our understanding of music, past and present.

SUITE TALK is a pioneering series of lecture recitals that aim to help a wide audience engage with new music for solo cello by relating it to the past. Cellist Zachary Mowitz and composer Nick DiBerardino lead audiences through a program specifically curated to demystify two new works: Oracle by DiBerardino, and Suite for Solo Cello by Ira J. Mowitz. Participants discover how this new music connects to the rich legacy of the cello's past, emerging with a deeper experience of music. During each interactive performance, Zachary plays excerpts by Bach, Gabrielli, Britten, Saariaho, and others that illuminate connections and innovations across many musical eras.


During each interactive performance, Zach and Nick delve into concepts fundamental to solo cello music, like counterpoint, dance forms, and the history the cello and its repertoire. Participants explore these ideas through audience participation, Q&A, and guided hearings of excerpts by Bach, Gabrielli, Britten, Saariaho, and others. Taken together, these activities illuminate the relationships between seemingly disparate pieces of music, placing them in the context of both their own historical era and the broad arc of music history.

Expanding the impact of new music, beyond the concert hall.

In 2019 “Suite Talk” was presented in various forms at a diverse range of venues, including shows in Philadelphia at Old City Coffee, Dhyana Yoga, and Andrea Clearfield’s Music Salon; a special presentation for Penn Memory Center patients in Curtis’ Field Concert Hall; the Colorado Music Festival; a segment at Indianapolis’ Chatterbox Jazz Club; and a three-part series at  the Free Library of Philadelphia. Our vision is for new audiences to emerge with an understanding of how historically informed listening can deepen their experience of music. 


The future of SUITE TALK

To better extend the project’s reach, Zach and Nick are also producing a multi-part “Suite Talk” podcast, to air next season. The podcast will feature performance demonstrations, historical discussions, and insight from Zach and Nick, as well as interviews with experts from around the world. The podcast will conclude by broadcasting studio recordings of the new works by Nick and Ira. Also look out for a full album to be released later in the season!


Free Library Series 2019

Parkway Central Branch, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

These interactive lecture recitals each honed in on a certain facet of the cello’s story, exploring how the works of Nick DiBerardino and Ira Mowitz fit into the cello’s historical narrative. The series culminated in a recital on June 16, featuring the new commissions alongside staples from the solo cello repertoire.

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Suite Talk I: Prelude

February 23rd, 2019 - Music Department

How to listen like Bach. We examine how historically informed listening can deepen our experience of a piece in the concert hall. Excerpts by Gabrieli, Bach, and others reveal the rich 350-year history of the cello. Equipped with this new understanding, we hear two brand new works and start a conversation with their composers.


Suite Talk II: Dance

May 19th, 2019 - Music Department

How to dance like Bach. We discuss Bach’s dance suites in detail, how the form evolved through time, and how it guided and influenced music going forward. Together with the participants we investigate the connections between West African beats and dance rhythms of the 17th century French court!


Suite Talk III: Resonance

June 16th, 2019 - Free Library of Philadelphia
1:30pm workshop, 3pm recital

How to follow in Bach's footsteps. We explore how Bach's Cello Suites have resonated over nearly 300 years, inspiring works of the 20th and 21st centuries. Audience members hear the many ways composers today are pushing the boundaries of the instrument. The event ends with a culminating recital.