Photo: Joe Mazza
Spektral Quartet actively pursues a vivid conversation between exhilarating works of the traditional canon and those written this decade, this year, or this week. With its most recent album described by Gramophone as “highly-interactive, creative and collaborative...unlike anything its intended audience—or anyone else—has ever heard,” Spektral is known for creating seamless connections across centuries, drawing in the listener with charismatic deliveries, interactive concert formats, an up-close atmosphere, and bold, inquisitive programming.
2016 saw the release of Serious Business (Sono Luminus), the foursome’s most ambitious recording project to date, nominated for a 2017 GRAMMY award. “A delirious new record” (Alex Ross), Serious Business is an intrepid exploration of the many-sided face of humor in classical music, featuring vibrant premieres by stunning young composers Sky Macklay, David Reminick, and Chris Fisher-Lochhead, paired with a centuries-old gut-buster, Haydn’s Quartet Op.33 No. 2, “The Joke.” The quartet’s multi-city tour of Beat Furrer’s “String Quartet No. 3” and Bagatellen, a new work by Hans Thomalla, “proved that they [the quartet] have everything: a supreme technical command that seems to come easily, a capacity to make complicated music clear, and, most notably on this occasion, an ability to cast a magic spell…” (New York Times).
At home both in and out of the concert hall, Spektral Quartet enthusiastically seeks out vehicles to bring classical music into the sphere of everyday life, prioritizing immersion and inclusivity through close-proximity seating and intimate, unconventional venues. Major upcoming projects in the quartet’s native city include the Chicago premiere of Morton Feldman’s notorious six-hour String Quartet No. 2 at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Toledo Art Museum, the quartet's Italian debut in Rome, the recording of new works by composer Anthony Cheung, and a major new initiative on Chicago’s South Side in collaboration with multidisciplinary artist Theaster Gates. The 2016–17 season will also see dynamic new programs pairing works of Ravel, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn with the voices of emerging composers, and new works by George Lewis, Augusta Read Thomas, Samuel Adams, and Tomeka Reid.
The ensemble is regarded for forward-thinking endeavors such as Mobile Miniatures, which rallied more than forty composers from across the nation, including David Lang, Augusta Read Thomas, Nico Muhly and Shulamit Ran, to write ringtone-length pieces available for download to mobile devices. As ardent advocates for new music in their home city, the group recorded its debut album, Chambers (Parlour Tapes+), in 2013, featuring works by dynamic, Chicago-based composers. Other discography includes a recording with Third Coast Percussion of Selene, an octet by Augusta Read Thomas for the album Of Being Is a Bird (Nimbus Records); and From This Point Forward (Azica Records), an exploration of nuevo tango and Latin jazz with bandoneon virtuoso Julien Labro. It is central to Spektral Quartet’s mission to cultivate a love of, and curiosity for, unfamiliar sonic territory and exceptional works of the past among the next generation of string players. Currently ensemble in-residence at the University of Chicago, the quartet has also participated in residencies at the New World Symphony, Stanford University, Northwestern University, University of Wisconsin— Milwaukee, and the Walden School, among others.
Daniel Pesca, piano
Daniel Pesca, pianist and composer, is both a passionate advocate for new music and a committed performer of the chamber music repertoire. He has shared the stage with many leading new music ensembles, including Ensemble Signal, the Slee Sinfonietta, Dal Niente, the Orchestra of the League of Composers, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. He has recently performed at the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, the Teatro Diana in Guadalajara, on the Dame Myra Hess concerts, at June in Buffalo, and at festivals devoted to contemporary music in Spain, Italy, and Greece. Among his concerto credits are a performance of the Elliott Carter Double Concerto at Zankel Hall, and solo appearances with the University of Michigan Symphony Band, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, and the Oberlin Sinfonietta. He performs regularly with the Eastman BroadBand ensemble.
Daniel is featured on recordings from Block M Records and Urtext Classics—including a performance of Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez’s piano concerto, Diaries, dedicated to Daniel. His recording of the music of Joseph Schwantner, with flutist Sarah Frisof, was released on Centaur Records in July 2016. He holds a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music, where he led a class on contemporary keyboard music and studied piano with Nelita True. He now serves as Director of Chamber Music and Artist-in-Residence at the University of Chicago, and is a visiting professor at Ithaca College in Spring 2017.
Arnold Steinhardt, guest artist
Arnold Steinhardt was born in Los Angeles, receiving his early training from Karl Moldrem, Peter Meremblum and Toscha Seidel, and making his solo debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at age fourteen. He continued his studies with Ivan Galamian at the Curtis Institute of Music and with Joseph Szigeti in Switzerland in 1962 under the sponsorship of George Szell.
Winner of the Philadelphia Youth Competition in 1957, the 1958 Leventritt Award, and Bronze Medallist in the Queen Elizabeth International Violin Competition in 1963, Mr. Steinhardt has appeared throughout North America and Europe as a recitalist and soloist with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, and the Cleveland Orchestra, among others.
Mr. Steinhardt was first violinist and a founding member (1964) of the internationally acclaimed Guarneri String Quartet with which he made innumerable tours across the globe and recorded dozens of albums for RCA Victor, Philips, Arabesque and Surrounded By Entertainment. The quartet retired in 2009. He is professor of violin and chamber music at Colburn School, Bard College, and the Curtis Institute of Music.
Arnold Steinhardt has written two books: Indivisible by Four: A String Quartet in Pursuit of Harmony (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998); and Violin Dreams (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). He is the author of articles which have appeared in Chamber Music America, Musical America and Keynote. Recipient of Honorary Doctorates from the University of South Florida and Harpur College, Arnold Steinhardt has also received an award for distinguished cultural service from the City of New York presented by Mayor Koch. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010.
Mr. Steinhardt's recordings include Franz Schubert's complete works for violin and piano with Seymour Lipkin on Newport Classic, American Journey on Naxos Records with his brother Victor Steinhard featuring a variety of seldom heard American music and three new works written for him, two CD’s on Sheffield Lab with pianist Lincoln Mayorga: Strauss and Dvorak and Romantic Music for Violin and Piano which he recorded "direct-to-disc"; and a TownHall recording of unaccompanied Bach works.
Arnold Steinhardt plays a Lorenzo Storioni violin from Cremona, Italy, late 18th century. He writes a monthly blog about music, In the Key of Strawberry.
Gerard McBurney, guest speaker
A native of England, Gerard McBurney studied in Cambridge and at the Moscow Conservatory before returning to London, where he worked for many years as a composer, arranger, broadcaster, teacher and writer. For 10 years he was artistic programming advisor for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and creative director of CSO's Beyond the Score series.
His original compositions include orchestral works, a ballet, a chamber opera, songs and chamber music as well as many theater scores. He also is well known for his reconstructions of various lost and forgotten works by Dmitri Shostakovich.
As a scholar, McBurney has published mostly in the field of Russian and Soviet music. His journalistic work includes articles on many different musical subjects. For 20 years, he created and presented many hundreds of programs on BBC Radio 3 (the classical music station of the British Broadcasting Corporation) as well as occasional programs for other radio stations in the U.K., Europe and the former Soviet Union.
Gerard McBurney has written, researched and presented more than two dozen documentary television films for British and German television channels. For many years he lectured and taught, first at the London College of Music and then for more than 10 years at the Royal Academy of Music. He also has acted as advisor and collaborated with many orchestras and presenters, including Lincoln Center, the Emerson String Quartet and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.