The Spektral Quartet after a performance with Lee Hyla at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University in December 2011. Click to watch the live performance on YouTube

Long-time advocates for unravelling stylistic boundaries, Spektral takes on music by artists often assumed to belong in a jazz context who have shaped the course of contemporary composition. Through works by seminal figures such as Ornette Coleman and our commission from MacArthur Fellow George Lewis -- as well as younger musicians such as Tomeka Reid, Katherine Young and Sam Pluta -- Playing Out examines where music goes when the artistic streams of creative improvisation and classical composition merge. Options for programming also include our commission of rising star Anthony Cheung (with flutist Claire Chase), Lee Hyla’s barnstorming Quartet No. 4, and a sonic exploration by Mathias Spahlinger, apo do.

Playing Out seeks a democratization of non-commercial music beyond artificial genre boundaries or cultural origins, and confronts an old medium (the string quartet) with new ideas. This confluence of performance practice and culture breeds an innovative realm of musicianship with a wide variety of aesthetic outcomes, and we eagerly dip our toes into an ocean of musical currents to see where the tide may rise next.