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'Behind the Wallpaper' at Music Box Theatre

  • Music Box Theatre 3733 North Southport Avenue Chicago, IL, 60613 United States (map)
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Chicago’s cinephile epicenter – the Music Box Theater – plays host to this evening of music and film, co-produced by the Chicago Film Society. Featuring art-pop luminary Julia Holter, Alex Temple's Behind the Wallpaper slips between 19th-century romanticism, indie pop, Weimar cabaret, and Elizabethan music in a tale of mysterious transformation.


We’re obsessed with dissolving barriers to entry for new listeners – barriers which seem to cling to classical music like magnets in a super-glue fight – and perhaps no Spektral collaborator embodies that spirit more unflinchingly, or more entertainingly, than Alex Temple. This is a composer unimpressed by accepted musical hierarchies, and one as likely to be riffing on David Lynch as Brahms. We are lucky enough to have come up around the same time as Alex, and when she approached us about writing a piece for us and singer-songwriter Julia Holter, we knew this was going to be a stand-out project.


Behind the Wallpaper tells the story of a person undergoing a mysterious transformation one night in a college science park – a moment that will alter her mundane life, but not necessarily in ways apparent to those around her. Here’s the kicker: the music slips between 19th-century romanticism, indie pop, Weimar cabaret, and Elizabethan music. It’s a gripping and often comically devious piece, but it’s also a glimpse inside the brilliantly divergent imagination and intellect of its author. 

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Certain of us in the quartet have been über-fans of Julia Holter since her first record, so we are especially keen to offer you an encounter with her beguiling voice in a setting far more intimate than a sold-out Pitchfork Festival or Thalia Hall set. And as if that weren’t enough, we’re presenting this concert at that haven for Chicago cinephiles: the Music Box Theatre. Following our performance of Behind the Wallpaper, our co-producers the Chicago Film Society will present short films chosen in conjunction with Alex. Let’s just say you may want to get your tickets well in advance for this one…

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Behind the Wallpaper (2013-14) – Alex Temple
World premiere (2019) – Gene Knific

Spektral Quartet’s 2019-20 concert season is supported by the generosity of the following foundations. We are so grateful for this funding and the support of the many individuals who give to our organization. If you are interested in supporting our work, please visit to learn more.