by Jacob Ryan
Photo credit: Steve J. Sherman, Carnegie Hall
Big Bird appeared in an opening video by Sam Green that highlighted the quartet's 40-year history, including their appearance on Sesame Street. Newspaper clippings fluttered across the screen, accomplishments rolled over one another, clamoring for attention, and new quartet members came and went. It was a lovely review, and when the actual quartet walked on stage after the video was over, they were greeted to an incredibly warm reception. The applause the group received communicated something deeper than the standard ecstatic rush of an energized audience: It was a more profound appreciation brought on by long-term satisfaction, the kind of applause that can only be earned after decades of consistently fresh performance. I had never heard applause quite like it, and the rest of the concert proved that it remains well earned to this day.
With the help of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Aleksandra Vrebalov's Bubbles cast an otherworldly veil over the concert, gently laying over the audience a series of haunting choral glissandos and sonorous vibes. Aheym, by Bryce Dessner of Brooklyn indie-rock group The National, was a rhythmic and emotionally satisfying piece for electric guitar and string quartet, and despite some acoustic difficulties, it was a definite standout on the program.