Serious Business

Sono Luminus (2016)

Classical music can always benefit from a dose of the funny.

Each piece on Serious Business looks at humor in music from a different angle – not necessarily with the goal of making the listener laugh, but as a sophisticated subject to be explored (without taking that subject too seriously, of course). If you've been to one of our shows, read our newsletter, or follow us on social media, you know that humor has been an essential part of our approach to performance from the beginning. 

Recorded in 9.1 surround sound at the acoustically superb studios of Sono Luminus, the album includes the world premiere recordings of three highly-virtuosic string quartets written for us – Sky Macklay’s Many Many Cadences, David Reminick’s The Ancestral Mousetrap, and Chris Fisher-Lochhead’s Hack, plus prankster Josef Haydn’s String Quartet Opus 33, No 2 in E-flat major, “The Joke.” 


Parlour Tapes+ (2013)

In 2013 we released our debut album CHAMBERS in collaboration with Chicago’s first and only contemporary art music cassette tape label (yes, you read that right), Parlour Tapes+.  Showcasing a city teeming with musical exploration and ingenuity, CHAMBERS was created in collaboration with composers Marcos Balter, Hans Thomalla, Eliza Brown, Chris Fisher-Lochhead, Liza White, and Ben Hjertmann.  From exquisite microtonal harmonies to textures at the edge of the audible to hyper-kinetic guitar-pick strumming, CHAMBERS leads listeners through six rooms, each filled with a distinct voice and unique acoustic.

From This Point Forward album cover.jpg


Azica Records (2014)

The music of Astor Piazzolla is well known to North American audiences, but what came after the Tango Nuevo revolution?

We have teamed up with accordion and bandoneon virtuoso Julien Labro to uncover exactly that with our upcoming album on Azica Records, From This Point Forward. “Jazz,” “contemporary classical” or “tango” are genre labels far too cramped to encapsulate the music of Argentine composer/pianist Fernando Otero, whose De Ahora En Más is featured on the record. Breathless fugues, opaque chord clusters and circular grooves here have a tincture of tango, but the language has evolved into something much more risky. Also hailing from Buenos Aires, composer/pianist Diego Schissi has similarly transformed the tango vernacular with tunes like the irrepressible Líquido 5.Perhaps it can best be summed up in the composer’s own words, in email correspondence with Labro and the quartet: “It is display of Full Power, a forceful demonstration of energy…edgy and a bit uncontrolled.”