Spektral Quartet Raises Over $4,000 for GirlForward

We are pleased to announce that we raised $4,150 for GirlForward, a Chicago-based non-profit organization dedicated to creating and enhancing opportunities for refugee girls.

For our Chicago premiere of Morton Feldman’s Quartet No. 2 on March 11th, we issued a challenge to attendees: for any concertgoer who stayed with us for the entirety of the five-hour epic, a donation would be made in their name to GirlForward.

Generously funded by key supporters, board members, and audience members, the Feldman Forward initiative aimed to take advantage of the enhanced visibility surrounding our performance by adding this charitable dimension. GirlForward was selected as the beneficiary based on strong recommendations from the community, as well as the organization’s relatively small size and potential impact this gift could make.

Read more about this amazing organization on their website: https://www.girlforward.org/

 

 

Chicago Tribune: A quiet, 5-hour marathon scaled by Spektral Quartet at MCA

Chicago Tribune: A quiet, 5-hour marathon scaled by Spektral Quartet at MCA

The Everest of modern string quartets received its Chicago premiere at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Saturday night, and Spektral Quartet gamely scaled it in a mere five hours and eight minutes.

What? That's surely a misprint.

Well, no. Morton Feldman's String Quartet No. 2 (1983) is the longest such piece in the active repertory. Its title page estimates duration to be between five and one-half and six and one-half hours. That is, of continuous music, without a break.

Chicago Classical Review: Spektral Quartet brings refined artistry, impressive stamina to Feldman work

Chicago Classical Review: Spektral Quartet brings refined artistry, impressive stamina to Feldman work

In their first complete performance of Feldman’s quartet, the Spektral members (violinists Clara Lyon and Maeve Feinberg, violist Doyle Armbrust and cellist Russell Rolen) brought tonal refinement, focused ensemble, and a terraced array of dynamics—consistently exploring the extreme degrees of pianissimo where most of the music lives.

Chicago Magazine: How Four Musicians Plan to Survive the Longest String Quartet Ever Written

Illustration: Ryan Snook

Illustration: Ryan Snook

Six hours onstage, with no intermission and rests barely long enough to sip water. Sounds more like Marina Abramović performance art than a chamber music concert. But that’s precisely what the daring local ensemble Spektral Quartet will undertake on March 11 at 6 p.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago when the group performs Morton Feldman’s formidable String Quartet No. 2. Lasting somewhere between five and just over six hours, Feldman’s work is the longest in the canonical string quartet repertoire. Here, in anticipation of the performance, the four musicians detail their seven steps for survival.

Pig out

At about 4 p.m. on the day of the event, eat enough to last eight hours. Protein over carbs, which might make Feldman-induced serenity (he’s known for quiet pieces) tip over to food coma.

Read the whole article here

Feldman No. 2: Doing the Time Warp (Part III)

Feldman No. 2: Doing the Time Warp (Part III)

One of the more fascinating elements of Feldman’s second quartet is that of memory. Yes, it’s an absurdly long, absurdly quiet piece, but as untethered as that might sound, it’s the recurrence of material that keeps us mindful of something passing, rather than just existing. And just like memory, it is wholly unreliable. The material sounds familiar, but one tiny detail of it has been renovated.

It reminds me of one of my most indelible memories from childhood. As a family that didn’t really do vacations, visiting my grandparents in Indianapolis was borderline exotic. I can’t remember what I was performing last month, or what I’m supposed to pick up from Whole Foods on my way home today, but I can feel my 10-year-old self sitting atop scratchy astroturf on their back porch, underneath a garden table, eating my Nana’s liverwurst sandwiches and icebox cookies. This fort was killer. I had ultimate agency–no one bothered me under there and I could read until dusk–and when I was lucky, it would rain. I can still see the way the sunlight filtered through the undulating, emerald fiberglass canopy above. I can smell the funk of the liverwurst. I start salivating at the thought of the crunch of perfectly-browned cookies.

Chicago Reader: Spektral Quartet give the local premiere of Morton Feldman’s String Quartet no. 2, all six hours of it

Chicago Reader: Spektral Quartet give the local premiere of Morton Feldman’s String Quartet no. 2, all six hours of it

The music is exquisitely quiet, so while string players don’t have to exert great pressure on their instruments, they hold their bows for what must feel like an eternity during long tones, which are only occasionally interrupted by pizzicato plucks. With recently enlisted violinist Maeve Feinberg joining Doyle Armbrust, Russell Rolen, and Clara Lyon, Chicago’s Spektral Quartet will provide the long overdue local premiere of the quartet in conjunction with the current Merce Cunningham exhibition “Common Time” (Feldman was one of many brilliant 20th-century composers who collaborated with the choreographer).

Feldman No. 2: Doing the Time Warp (Part II)

Feldman No. 2: Doing the Time Warp (Part II)

"The sense of time distortion and suspension present in Feldman 2 for me recalls the timelessness of many sleepless nights spent in love with nighttime rambles, and the hidden things only those who stay awake will see and hear. There is a certain way in which a non-linear, conceptual piece like Feldman 2 requires a listener to accept, absorb, and re-assemble kaleidoscopic patterns in a way that is similar to the music you can hear if you listen closely to a forest at nighttime–something I did a lot of growing up and, as the chance has presented itself, over the years. Once your eyes and ears and brain quiet down and adjust to the soft darkness of a forest it’s music is rarely quiet, often loud, seldom stagnant, and moves in a shape-shifting activity all it’s own: to find music in this place is to create a structure out of the tones and rhythms of unpredictable winds and birds and stars and raindrops and insects and who knows what other manner of creatures.

Feldman No. 2: Doing the Time Warp (Part I)

Feldman No. 2: Doing the Time Warp (Part I)

"For me, this piece evokes a vivid childhood memory I have of being on a sailboat with my older brother. At one point during our sail, almost without warning, the wind dropped and a thick fog began to roll in. The sensation of watching this opaque wall of vapor approach and then completely engulf us gave me a strong feeling of inexorability and then almost total sensory deprivation. I found that in the total white-out my sense of hearing felt heightened, and yet, as we sat waiting for the fog to lift, without any concept of where we were or how fast we were moving, if at all, my sense of time became completely skewed. When the wall of fog began to dissipate and we were finally able to make out the distant outline of the coast, we found ourselves in a completely different place that we had expected and it felt that minutes or even hours could have passed.

Between Two Pianos: An Interview with Maeve Feinberg

Between Two Pianos: An Interview with Maeve Feinberg

This Friday, January 27th, marks the Chicago debut of our fantastic new violinist, Maeve Feinberg, and we thought you all might like to get a glimpse behind the scenes at what she's like...and why her personality is a perfect fit for our brand of skylarking. 

 

Doyle: So...Beethoven Op. 74, Ravel Quartet, and Dai Fujikura’s first quartet. We’re not exactly easing you into your first Chicago concert, are we?

Maeve: I want a raise.

DA: So this show is all about pieces that feature pizzicato. If you were going to get a finger tattoo, what would it look like?

MF: Well, they say you should never get tattoos on your hands but I’m thinking “FUJIKURA” across my knuckles would be suitable for this concert.

Serious Business Remixed (Part III): Bevin Kelley (aka Synopterus, aka Bevin Blectum) vs. Josef Haydn

The third in our lineup of Serious Business remixes is a real brain liquefier, and it comes by way of the one-and-only Bevin Kelley (aka Bevin Blectum)! 

It turns out that "The Joke" is far from a new one for Bevin, and she had this to say about creating the remix:

I remember playing this quartet, one semester when I was a violinist at Oberlin many years ago, and I still love the second movement especially! This remix was made in and out / back and forth between Ableton Live and ProTools softwares. It uses only the source material — the Spektral recording of the second movement. The source was fragmented, layered, effected and processed in various ways, fragmented again, and finally restructured and layered again, and played/recorded live in Live. It flows in a similar trajectory to the untouched Haydn, but renegotiates the experience of time, timbre and layer. It sometimes magnifies the microscopic, or extends a stay in the whirlpool of a sound, or smashes moments together while shifting character. It is computer/electronic music responding to the digital imprint of the acoustic moment.