CLARA LYON, violin

Spektral Quartet actively pursues a vivid conversation between exhilarating works of the traditional canon and those written this decade, this year, or this week. Its recent Grammy-nominated album was described by Gramophone as “highly-interactive, creative and collaborative … unlike anything its intended audience—or anyone else—has ever heard.” Spektral creates seamless connections across centuries, drawing in listeners with charismatic deliveries, interactive concert formats, an up-close atmosphere, and bold, inquisitive programming.

Spektral was named 'Chicagoans of the Year' by the Chicago Tribune for a 2017 in which the group became among the few quartets in the world to perform Morton Feldman’s six-hour masterpiece, the String Quartet No. 2, at both the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Toledo Museum of Art. Of this notable achievement, the Chicago Tribune wrote, “...the account was more consistently sensitive to dynamics, color and nuance than on the two existing recordings — an achievement.”

In fall 2018, Spektral Quartet released Yo Soy La Tradición, written by and performed with jazz luminary and MacArthur genius Miguel Zenón. The concert-length suite of music, called a “fervent prayer” by NPR’s All Things Considered, is inspired by the folk traditions of Puerto Rico. The quartet and Zenón tour the work in 2018-19 with performances at The Kennedy Center, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and more.

In 2018-19, Spektral’s ambitious hometown plans include the group’s ongoing residency at the University of Chicago and the continuation of three recently launched initiatives: Centering around a single piece, Once More, With Feeling! gives audiences that essential second listen – on the same evening – to an unfamiliar piece with the composer on stage, divulging behind-the-scenes insights into its inspirations and inner-workings. The Dovetail Series pairs Spektral with an artist from Chicago’s South Side, trading sets before coming together for a devised work in which the traditions of each collide in exhilarating and unexpected ways. And finally, the multi-sensory revelry that is Close Encounters – a stimulating series that envelops concertgoers with the sights, sounds, flavors, and entertainments of the eras and places from which the music originates.

In 2018, the quartet presented the complete quartets of Arnold Schoenberg – re-contextualized and reanimated – and made its debut at the Library of Congress with two unique concerts featuring the music of George Lewis, Wadada Leo Smith, and Arnold Schoenberg, John Zorn and Milton Babbitt. The quartet also ‚Äčreturned ‚Äčto the studio to record two newly premiered Philip Glass works – String Quartet No. 8 and Piano Quintet on the composer’s Orange Mountain Music label with pianist (and Glass specialist) Paul Barnes.

Spektral’s ambitious album Serious Business (Sono Luminus) was 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. “Versatility” is a term that has become synonymous with Spektral, and in addition to collaborations with such stylistically-diverse artists as multi-Grammy-winning pianist Billy Childs, spoken-word and jazz vocalist Maggie Brown, and indie-rock songwriter Julia Holter, the quartet celebrates its hometown roots as well with an ongoing improv-comedy project with Gift Theatre founder and actor Michael Patrick Thornton at storied venues such as The Second City and Steppenwolf Theatre.

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. The ensemble is regarded for forward-thinking endeavors such as Mobile Miniatures, which rallied more than 40 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.


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