Renowned for bringing fresh excitement to traditional string quartet repertoire as well as for creating thoroughly insightful interpretations of new music, the Chiara String Quartet (Rebecca Fischer and Julie Hye-Yung Yoon, violins; Jonah Sirota, viola; Gregory Beaver, cello) captivates and enthralls its audiences throughout the country. During 2010-2011, the Chiara is celebrating its tenth anniversary season. Over its first decade, the Chiara has established itself as among America's most respected ensembles, lauded for its "highly virtuosic, edge-of-the-seat playing" (The Boston Globe).
The Chiara String Quartet serves as Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University, where it is currently performing the complete cycle of Beethoven's string quartets. The Chiara's honors include a top prize at the Paolo Borciani International Competition, winning the Astral Artistic Services National Audition, and winning First Prize at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. Awarded the Guarneri Quartet Residency Award for artistic excellence by Chamber Music America, the Chiara Quartet has also been the recipient of grants from Meet The Composer and the Amphion Foundation.
The Chiara Quartet performs in major concert halls across the country, including Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the National Gallery in Washington DC, and Harris Hall at the Aspen Music Festival. The ensemble also devotes a portion of its performance season to concerts in non-classical venues including (le) Poisson Rouge and Galapagos Art Space in New York, The Tractor Tavern in Seattle, Avant Garden in Houston, and the Hideout in Chicago, among many others. Recent highlights of the Chiara Quartet's international performances include the American Academy in Rome, a critically-acclaimed eight-city tour of Sweden with clarinetist Håkan Rosengren, and a performance of Steve Reich's Different Trains in Munich at the storied Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität.
Described by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as "vastly talented, vastly resourceful, and vastly committed to the music of their time," the Chiara has commissioned and premiered new works since its inception. The Chiara has commissioned works from Jefferson Friedman, Gabriela Lena Frank, Robert Sirota, Michael Wittgraf, and Carl Voss. Currently, the ensemble is embarking on a two-year commissioning project called Creator/Curator. The Chiara will commission new works for string quartet from composers Nico Muhly, Huang Ruo, Daniel Ott, and Gabriela Lena Frank. Each composer will curate the concert on which their piece is premiered, choosing music that complements and gives context. Creator/Curator concerts will take place in four cities during the 2011-2012 concert season.
This season, New Amsterdam Records will release the Chiara's recording of composer Jefferson Friedman's String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3. Both celebrated pieces, which "already deserve to be heard as classics of this decade" (The New York Times) were commissioned by the Chiara, and are the result of a more than ten-year friendship with the composer.
The Chiara discography includes the Mozart and Brahms clarinet quintets with Håkan Rosengren for SMS Classical, and the world premiere recordings of Robert Sirota's Triptych and Gabriela Lena Frank's Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout for the Quartet's own New Voice Singles label. The Chiara is also featured on Nadia Sirota's debut recording for New Amsterdam Records, first things first, which was included on "Best of" lists in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Time Out New York, and many more. Other recent collaborators of the quartet include Joel Krosnick, Todd Palmer, Simone Dinnerstein, Norman Fischer, and Paul Katz, as well as members of the Orion, Ying, Cavani, and Pacifica Quartets.
The Chiara Quartet has been artists-in-residence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln since 2005. In the summer, they are in residence at Greenwood Music Camp as well as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Chamber Music Institute. The Chiara trained and taught at The Juilliard School, mentoring for two years with the Juilliard Quartet, as recipients of the Lisa Arnhold Quartet Residency from 2003-2005.
Led by artistic director and cellist Clarice Jensen, the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) is dedicated to the outstanding performance of masterworks from the 20th and 21st centuries, primarily the work of American composers. The ensemble presents cutting-edge literature by living composers alongside the "classics" of the contemporary. ACME's dedication to new music extends across genres, and has earned the group a reputation among both classical and rock crowds. Time Out New York calls the group "one of New York's brightest new music indie-bands." The New York Times describes ACME's performances as "vital," "brilliant," and "electrifying."
Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa is a 2009 Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition. She takes inspiration for her work from literary sources and close artistic collaborations. Gramophone reports, "Bielawa is gaining gale force as a composer, churning out impeccably groomed works that at once evoke the layered precision of Vermeer and the conscious recklessness of Jackson Pollock," and The New York Times describes her music as, "ruminative, pointillistic and harmonically slightly tart."
Born in San Francisco into a musical family, Lisa Bielawa played the violin and piano, sang, and wrote music from early childhood. She moved to New York two weeks after receiving her B.A. in Literature in 1990 from Yale University, and became an active participant in New York musical life. She began touring with the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1992, and in 1997 co-founded the MATA Festival, which celebrates the work of young composers.
Lisa Bielawa's music is frequently performed throughout the US, and in France, Italy, the UK and Rome. Recent highlights include the premieres of Rondolette by the string quartet Brooklyn Rider and pianist Bruce Levingston; Double Duet by the Washington Saxophone Quartet (with subsequent performance by the Prism Saxophone Quartet); Graffiti dell'amante performed by Bielawa with the Chicago Chamber Musicians in Chicago, and with Brooklyn Rider in New York, Harrisburg, and Rome; The Project of Collecting Clouds at Town Hall in Seattle by cellist Joshua Roman and chamber ensemble; the world premieres of Double Violin Concerto and In medias res by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), part of Bielawa's three-year Music Alive residency with that orchestra; the premiere of The Right Weather by the American Composers Orchestra and pianist Andrew Armstrong at Carnegie Hall; and the premiere of The Lay of the Love and Death at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. Bielawa's work, Chance Encounter, a piece comprising songs and arias constructed of speech overheard in transient public spaces, has been performed by soprano Susan Narucki and The Knights in Seward Park in Lower Manhattan and at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, in Vancouver, on the banks of the Tiber River in Italy, as part of the opening of the celebrated new MAXXI Museum in Rome, and in Venice.
Bielawa is currently at work on Tempelhof Broadcast, a massive 60-minute work for more than 600 musicians which will be performed on the tarmac of the former Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. On several days in May 2013, Bielawa will turn the abandoned runways into a vast musical canvas, as professional, amateur and student musicians execute a spatialized symphony.
Other upcoming premieres include a Radio France commission for Ensemble Variances -- the new 15-minute work will be performed in Paris, Rouen, Metz and Montreal as part of a program called Cri Selon Cri or "Cry by Cry" which explores the idea that the cry is a primary sound shared by animals and humans from all cultures of the world. In addition, Bielawa will compose a piece for the 50-member Finnish male choir Akademiska Sångföreningen on a text from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. Both new works will feature Bielawa as the vocal soloist.
Bielawa's discography includes A Handful of World (Tzadik); The Trojan Women on a disc entitled First Takes (TROY); Hildegurls: Electric Ordo Virtutum, (Innova); The Trojan Women in a version for string quartet performed by the Miami on The NYFA Collection (Innova); In medias res (BMOP/sound), a double-disc set of Bielawa's solo and orchestral works; the world premiere recording of Chance Encounter (Orange Mountain Music), and Elegy-Portrait on pianist Bruce Levingston's 2011 album, Heart Shadow (Sono Luminus). For more information, please visit www.lisabielawa.net.