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In Search of Futures Past: Schoenberg the Emancipator

  • Fulton Recital Hall 1010 East 59th Street Chicago, IL, 60637 United States (map)

Anton Webern – Langsamer Satz
Béla Bartók – String Quartet No. 1
Arnold Schoenberg – String Quartet No. 2 featuring Kiera Duffy, soprano

"I believe art is born of 'I must', not of 'I can'. A craftsman 'can'; whatever he was born with, he has developed, and so long as he wants to do something, he is able to. What he wants to do, he can do-good and bad, shallow and profound, new-fangled and old-fashioned-he can! But the artist MUST. He has no say in the matter, it is nothing to do with what he wants; but since he must, he also can."
- Arnold Schoenberg

This is the crux of the situation, and the reason Schoenberg is so vital: it’s the moment he exploded the rules of western musical tradition. This is the revolution of Picasso’s Guernica or T. S. Eliot’s overthrow of poetic verse with The Wasteland...and we have the name of soprano Kiera Duffy glowing on the marquee. Ms. Duffy joins us for the moment of true innovation: the emancipation of dissonance. When one thinks of Modernism, certain names instantly bubble to the surface–Wassily Kandinsky, Virginia Woolf, Frank Lloyd Wright, and of course Arnold Schoenberg–and the second quartet is first in line on the soundtrack. This is Rite of Spring big. This is Remembrance of Things Past big. We’ll set the scene for this decisive moment in classical music with two dynamite composers : Anton Webern, one of Schoenberg’s most famed students, and Béla Bartók, who was busy shaking up the string quartet repertoire from a folk-centric approach, with his vanguard first quartet. This concert is sheer moxie, and you may find yourself whispering a line from the Schoenberg’s final movement on your way out the door: “I feel air from a distant planet...”

Join us for a pre-concert talk at 6:30pm with 20th-century music specialist and UChicago professor Jennifer Iverson



This concert is FREE and open to the public.  

Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate in this event should contact the University of Chicago Music Department for assistance (Music
773-702-8484). Information on Assistive Listening Device


American soprano Kiera Duffy is recognized for her gleaming high soprano and insightful musicianship in a diverse repertoire ranging from Bach, Handel, and Mozart to the modern sounds of Carter, Feldman, and Zorn.

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A prolific concert artist, Ms. Duffy has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, London Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, New World Symphony, Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk Orchester, Atlanta Symphony, National Symphony, Simon Bolivar Orchestra and Detroit Symphony. She has collaborated with many of the celebrated conductors of today, including Pierre Boulez, Gustavo Dudamel, Alan Gilbert, Michael Tilson Thomas, Kristjan Järvi, James Levine, Donald Runnicles, Leonard Slatkin, and Robert Spano.

In 2013 Ms. Duffy made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera as Das Erste Blumenmädchen in Parsifal under Daniele Gatti, and with the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Stella in Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire. She has also appeared on the operatic stage at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Central City Opera, and Wexford Opera. At the Tanglewood Music Festival she performed Elliot Carter’s only opera, What Next?, Così fan tutte, and Don Carlo, all under the baton of James Levine.

An active chamber musician, Duffy has been featured at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Marlboro Music Festival, Bard SummerScape Festival, Tanglewood Music Festival, Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival and the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago. She has sung recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall, New York City’s Rockefeller University, and at St. Louis’ Washington University.

Duffy’s interpretations of modern and contemporary repertoire have garnered wide acclaim. She has performed often with the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella Series in works of Schoenberg, Berio, Ligeti and Unsuk Chin; with the New York Philharmonic in compositions of Ligeti and Boulez; with the Metropolis Ensemble in works of Esa-Pekka Salonen, as well as reinterpretations of Berlioz by young composers Vivian Fung, Brad Balliett, Ryan Francis, Sayo Kosugi, Nicholas Britell and Caroline Shaw. As part of the 2012 American Mavericks series she toured David del Tredici’s Syzygy with members of the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas.

Duffy’s growing discography includes Richard Strauss’ Lieder, Volume 4 with pianist Roger Vignoles for Hyperion; Carmina Burana with Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk Orchester and Kristjan Järvi for Sony; a DVD of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Simon Bolivar Orchestras under Gustavo Dudamel for Deutsche Grammophon; and famed filmmaker Susan Froemke’s documentary, The Audition, for Decca, which chronicles the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions of 2007.

Duffy was a Grand Finalist in the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a first-place winner of the Marian Anderson Competition in Philadelphia, and has also been recognized by the Young Concert Artists International Competition and the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Greenberg Competition. She was an accomplished pianist before pursuing degrees in vocal performance and pedagogy from Westminster Choir College. Duffy serves as an ambassador for the charity Sing With Haiti, which seeks to rebuild and support the Holy Trinity Music School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti after it was destroyed in the earthquake of 2010.

In addition to being a culture vulture, Duffy enjoys gardening, cooking, reading, and meditating. She has hiked Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Teton National Parks, and hopes to visit Glacier, Smoky Mountain, and Zion in the near future. She lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband, bass-baritone Jonathan Kimple, and their baby boy.