Galax Quartet

This 2011 recording can be ordered directly from

Innova Records

or downloaded in digital format—with 90 second previews of each song—from

Apple’s music store iTunes

Descriptions and Reviews


Songs on Poems of Gary Snyder

Cold Mountain Songs by Roy Whelden

For Nothing by Fred Frith

This Bubble of a Heart by Robert Morris

For All by W.A. Mathieu

"Karen Clark is the perfect singer for these pieces —a real voice used in a direct honest way."

Paul Hillier, conductor and baritone

"This fascinating and new release, a collaboration between contralto Karen Clark and the early music ensemble Galax Quartet, boasts an endless dialog between tradition and innovation, past and present. It's mesmerizing.  ...The texts have an unplaceable timelessness about them. Matching that quality is the sound of the Galax Quartet...and Clark’s majestic, throaty singing."

—Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

"The musical styles can range from faux Baroque to post-Minimalism, but they all properly and provocatively capture the luminosity of Snyder’s language, his sense of nature connected to the moment, his evocation of the spiritual essence of the West."

—Mark Swed, L.A. Times 

"The meld between poet, composers and performers is as close to ideal as you are going to find today. I'd say it's a masterpiece..."

— Classical-Modern Music Review

“With this album, Gary Snyder has joined the ranks of poets whose works have been put to music, such as Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson and the German Romantics, although for the most part here it is Snyder's unique translation and paraphrasing of ancient Chinese poet Han Shan. These modern works are performed by vocalist Karen Clark and the Galax Quartet, ...artists who usually favor early and Baroque music. Together, they produce a sound of great sensitivity and nuance.”

— customer (5 star review)

I go into experiential overdrive listening to Bob's Gary Snyder song for its unflinching on-sleeve expressivity, for how it puts my working Bob-paradigms into baseline meltdown, coming on with molten four-voiced sirensinging string quartet sound, flowing on to amiably reinvent harmony, time, instrumental-vocal quality, ensemble texture, text utterance.

Benjamin Boretz (composer and theorist) on Pleasure, writing of Robert Morris’s This Bubble of a Heart


"One of the motifs is a musical rendition of the universal signal for aid and succor in Morse code: three dots, three dashes, three dots. This is featured not only because it is rhythmically distinctive but also because the pleas for planetary salvation is not far from most peoples' minds, an insistent tattoo drumming beneath the social hubbub."

—W.A. Mathieu (from the composer's liner notes)

A 2015 recording of a moving and profound string quartet commissioned by the Galax Quartet—with the financial assistance of a Music Arts Grant from the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music

The CD can be ordered directly from the composer W.A. Mathieu

Or from the Galax Quartet