A League of Extraordinary Violinists (Part I): MingHuan Xu

A League of Extraordinary Violinists (Part I): MingHuan Xu

As we traverse the audition experience to find our new violinist – a process which has been way more entertaining than we ever expected, by the way – we have a few shows at the top of the 2016/17 season for which we'll need subs. The Spektral Quartet Trio is not a viable option for most presenters, apparently.

Fortunately, we happen to know a deep roster of outstanding violinists, and we're using this as an excellent excuse to play with them. First up is MingHuan Xu, who audiences will know from her performances as a member of Ensemble Dal Niente as well her duo appearances with pianist Winston Choi (with whom we're playing quite a bit this season!).

Announcing our violinist transition for the 2016/17 Season

Dear friends,

Today we announce important news, and we want you to be among the first to know. Austin Wulliman, a founding member of our ensemble and our violinist for the past six years, is leaving Chicago to pursue a career in contemporary music as a new member of the JACK Quartet.

While the departure of a member is complex, we're embracing this moment as an opportunity to grow as an ensemble, and we look toward the future with enthusiasm. We will continue to produce and perform programs that create vibrant and inviting conversation between the music of today and the beloved repertoire of the past, in a concert style that is intimate and personal. We are tremendously excited about our current candidates for the position and the accomplishments, versatility, and love of chamber music they embody. We wish Austin much happiness and the best of luck in his new pursuit, and look forward to introducing you to our newest member soon.

Austin would like to add:

"When we first started, I never could have predicted everything we've done together since founding Spektral Quartet. From the musical conversation between commissions and the standard quartet literature, to building our community in Chicago, as well as our teaching at the University of Chicago and beyond, I'm proud to have been a part of it. While my musical adventure takes me to a new city with a dedicated focus on new music, I eagerly await hearing and seeing the innovative and richly varied programs Spektral presents next."

Austin will continue performing with us during the transition, and there won't be any interruption to our scheduled concerts for the 2016/17 season.

All the best,
The Spektrals

Bad Entertainment: Julia Holter & Spektral Quartet

"One of the greatest strengths of the current generation of young classical composers is their willingness to test the boundaries of what “classical” vocal music is supposed to sound like. Holter may not sing in a traditional classical style, but in Monday’s concert she maintained incredible control over a voice that gave ideal expression to both Temple’s and her own writing. Meanwhile, in both the vocal and instrumental pieces, the Spektral Quartet demonstrated meticulous technique alongside a real zeal for the music they were performing. After Monday’s debut of this program in Saint Paul, Holter and the quartet will repeat it tonight as part of New York’s Ecstatic Music Festival and again tomorrow night in two performances in Chicago."

 To read the whole article, click here

Ringmasters: Nico Muhly

I remember my first encounter with Nico Muhly mostly because it coincides with the beginning of my torrid love affair with new music. I had recently been added to the Chicago Symphony's MusicNow roster and the series had the good sense to program Nico's Step Team for its 2007 season. I remember being sucked in by the magnetic groove of the piece, with its metric expansions and contractions providing a steady dose of adrenaline during late-night rehearsals. What I remember even more vividly, though, is how gracious Nico was throughout the process.

Also, that he had a better haircut than me.

If you've perhaps been living in a WiFi-less dirigible for the past seven years or so, and haven't heard his music, check out Mother Tongue or I Drink the Air Before Me or 2012's Drones and get ready for some gorgeously sculpted sound.

Nico has a new opera, Two Boys, going up at the Met next month, so Spektral is especially grateful and excited that he's making the time to pen us a ringtone for Mobile Miniatures. Prepare to be the envy of the subway the next time your phone rings with a swanky Nico jam. Prepare to be John the Baptist, Salome-style if you neglect to silence it before heading into your local opera house...