March 7, 2024
Martha Mooke, 2nd from right, with Carla Patullo (center) & Scorchio Quartet
Martha Mooke, 2nd from right, with Carla Patullo (center) & Scorchio Quartet

Music alumna Martha Mooke ‘88MM was honored at last month’s Grammy awards for her contributions to Carla Patullo's album So She Howls, which took home the award for Best New Age, Ambient, or Chant Album. Patullo, a native of western Massachusetts, created the album as a reflection of her emotional three-year battle with breast cancer.

Performing on electric and acoustic viola, Mooke was a featured soloist on two of the album’s tracks, and also appears as part of the Scorchio String Quartet, of which she is co-founder and artistic director. Mooke and Patullo first met at a film scoring program hosted by BMI. The two stayed in touch, and Patullo eventually reached out for Mooke’s help with So She Howls. The album was recorded last year at New Jersey’s Hobo Sound production studio. Mooke described the experience of hearing the album announced as the winner during the live ceremony as “very surrealistic and super emotional.”

Martha Mooke performs on electro-acoustic viol
Photo by Tina Fineberg

After graduating from the State University of New York at Albany, Mooke earned her Master of Music degree from UMass Amherst in 1988, where she studied with Maureen Gallagher and was a member of the Graduate String Quartet. “My time as a graduate student at UMASS was integral to my progression from student to professional musician,” said Mooke. “There were opportunities both at the university and surrounding Amherst area that provided a wide range of experiences in music, production, and collaboration that were invaluable.”

She has since established herself as pioneering electro-acoustic violist, performing as a soloist and as a member of the Scorchio Quartet with artists such as David Bowie, Philip Glass, Elton John, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Laurie Anderson, Andrea Bocelli, and Tony Bennett.  Scorchio also serves as the resident quartet for the annual Tibet House Benefit Concerts at Carnegie Hall produced by Philip Glass.

Martha Mooke performs with Scorchio Quartet with Joan Baez (left) at Tibet House benefit 2024
Scorchio Quartet with Joan Baez (left) at Tibet House benefit 2024, photo by David Iskra

As an educator, she has helped to establish a first of its kind Multi-Style Strings program at New Jersey City University, which offers a master’s degree (and soon, a bachelors degree) in a course of study that embraces all styles of music, technology and improvisation.