Spektral Quartet actively pursues a vivid conversation between exhilarating works of the traditional canon and those written this decade, this year, or this week. With its most recent album described by Gramophone as “highly-interactive, creative and collaborative...unlike anything its intended audience—or anyone else—has ever heard,” Spektral is known for creating seamless connections across centuries, drawing in the listener with charismatic deliveries, interactive concert formats, an up-close atmosphere, and bold, inquisitive programming.
2016 saw the release of Serious Business (Sono Luminus), the foursome’s most ambitious recording project to date, nominated for a 2017 GRAMMY award. “A delirious new record” (Alex Ross), Serious Business is an intrepid exploration of the many-sided face of humor in classical music, featuring vibrant premieres by up-and-coming composers Sky Macklay, David Reminick, and Chris Fisher-Lochhead, paired with a centuries-old gut-buster, Haydn’s Quartet Op.33 No. 2, “The Joke.” The quartet’s multi-city tour of Beat Furrer’s “String Quartet No. 3” and Bagatellen, a new work by Hans Thomalla, “proved that they [the quartet] have everything: a supreme technical command that seems to come easily, a capacity to make complicated music clear, and, most notably on this occasion, an ability to cast a magic spell…” (New York Times). In 2017, Spektral became one of the few quartets in the world to perform Morton Feldman’s six-hour masterpiece, the String Quartet No. 2, at both the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Toledo Museum of Art. Of this notable achievement, the Chicago Tribune writes, “...the account was more consistently sensitive to dynamics, color and nuance than on the two existing recordings — an achievement.”
At home both in and out of the concert hall, Spektral Quartet enthusiastically seeks out vehicles to bring classical music into the sphere of everyday life, prioritizing immersion and inclusivity through close-proximity seating and intimate, unconventional venues. For its 2017/18 season, the quartet launches four, distinct new series, and makes its debut at the Library of Congress with two unique concerts.
In Search of Futures Past: The Lineage & Legacy of Arnold Schoenberg contextualizes and reaffirms the groundbreaking quartet repertoire of the divisive composer. Featuring soprano Kiera Duffy, a new commission from composer David Fulmer, and captivating works by Béla Bartók, Ruth Crawford-Seeger, Johannes Brahms, Anton Webern, and Elliott Carter, the series aims to give listeners a more illuminating foothold into Schoenberg’s mesmerizing writing.
The Close Encounters series presents chamber music in the way it was first intended–in an intimate space with food and drink, and no shortage of whimsy. Excerpting pieces from the In Search of Futures Past programs, these events incorporate extra-musical elements, such as a 19th-century-themed costume party, a custom beer brewed from a 1908 Viennese recipe, the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, and a painting party–all in stunning venues around Chicago.
Born from conversations with audience members, Once More, With Feeling! offers listeners that essential ingredient to falling in love with a new piece of music–a second listen. With live conversations with the composer and two performances of the music, this series goes deep with some of Spektral’s favorite collaborators: Eliza Brown, Wadada Leo Smith, and Lisa Coons.
In partnership with Theaster Gates’s Rebuild Foundation, The Dovetail Series is a collision and collusion of musical traditions, with the quartet trading sets with an artist from Chicago’s south side before meeting in the middle for a devised, joint performance.
For their two nights at the Library of Congress, Spektral brings the music of George Lewis, Wadada Leo Smith, and Arnold Schoenberg, as well as an unusual treat–solo numbers by John Zorn and Milton Babbitt, featuring the quartet’s violinists.
The ensemble is regarded for forward-thinking endeavors such as Mobile Miniatures, which rallied more than forty composers from across the nation, including David Lang, Augusta Read Thomas, Nico Muhly, and Shulamit Ran, to write ringtone-length pieces available for download to mobile devices. As ardent advocates for new music in their home city, the group recorded its debut album, Chambers (Parlour Tapes+), in 2013, featuring works by dynamic, Chicago-based composers. Other discography includes a recording with Third Coast Percussion of Selene, an octet by Augusta Read Thomas for the album Of Being Is a Bird (Nimbus Records); and From This Point Forward (Azica Records), an exploration of nuevo tango and Latin jazz with bandoneon virtuoso Julien Labro. Spektral Quartet's recording of CHI will be featured on Augusta Read Thomas’s upcoming album (release: November 2017), and the group performs a concert-length new work with jazz great Miguel Zenón on the saxophonist/composer’s forthcoming album, Yo Soy La Tradición (release: early 2018).
It is central to Spektral Quartet’s mission to cultivate a love of, and curiosity for, unfamiliar sonic territory and exceptional works of the past among the next generation of string players. Currently ensemble in-residence at the University of Chicago, the quartet has also participated in residencies at the New World Symphony, Stanford University, Northwestern University, University of Wisconsin— Milwaukee, and the Walden School, among others.
Spektral Quartet is represented exclusively by Alliance Artist Management.
SPEKTRAL QUARTET is
Clara Lyon (violin) Maeve Feinberg (violin)
Doyle Armbrust (viola) Russell Rolen (cello)