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Arditti Quartet

Peak Performances

It is said that when violinist Irvine Arditti founded his quartet in 1974, the history of contemporary music was forever changed, leaving an indelible mark on the strings repertoire of the 20th century. According to New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini, Arditti has “one message for composers who dare to write path-breaking and technically punishing music: ‘Bring it on.’”

String Quartet no. 8
William Bolcom

Son dementes cuerdas
Hilda Paredes
with Eliot Fisk, guitar

String Quartet no. 5
Elliott Carter

Anea Crystal: Anea
Chaya Czernowin
with the Shanghai Quartet


arditti interview video
string quartet 13 video
paredes videos



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william bolcomNational Medal of Arts, Pulitzer Prize, and Grammy Award-winner William Bolcom (born May 26, 1938) is an American composer of chamber, operatic, vocal, choral, and symphonic music.

Born in Seattle, Washington, he began composition studies at the age of 11 with George Frederick McKay and John Verrall at the University of Washington while continuing piano lessons with Madame Berthe Poncy Jacobson. He later studied with Darius Milhaud at Mills College while working on his Master of Arts degree, with Leland Smith at Stanford University while working on his D.M.A., and with Olivier Messiaen and Milhaud at the Paris Conservatoire, where he received the 2éme Prix de Composition.

He joined the faculty of the University of Michigan’s School of Music in 1973, was named the Ross Lee Finney Distinguished University Professor of Composition in 1994, and retired in 2008 after 35 years.

Bolcom won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1988 for 12 New Etudes for Piano, and his setting of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience on the Naxos label won four Grammy Awards in 2005.

As a pianist Bolcom has performed and recorded his own work frequently in collaboration with his wife and musical partner, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris. Their primary specialties in both concerts and recordings are cabaret songs, show tunes, and American popular songs of the 20th century. They have recorded 25 albums together – Autumn Leaves was released in 2015.

As a composer, Bolcom has written four violin sonatas; nine symphonies; three operas (McTeague, A View from the Bridge and A Wedding), plus several musical theater operas; eleven string quartets; two film scores (Hester Street and Illuminata); incidental music for stage plays, including Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass; fanfares and occasional pieces; and an extensive catalogue of chamber, choral, and vocal works.

Bolcom’s setting of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience, a full evening’s work for soloists, choruses, and orchestra, culminated 25 years of work on the piece. The April 8, 2004, performance in the recently-renovated Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was recorded by Naxos. The CD won four Grammy Awards in 2005: Best Choral Performance, Best Classical Contemporary Composition, Best Classical Album, and Producer of the Year, Classical.

elliott carterCarter is internationally recognized as one of the most influential American voices in classical music, and a leading figure of modernism in the 20th and 21st centuries. He was hailed as “America’s great musical poet” by Andrew Porter and noted as “one of America’s most distinguished creative artists in any field” by his friend Aaron Copland. Carter’s prolific career spanned over 75 years, with more than 150 pieces, ranging from chamber music to orchestral works to opera, often marked with a sense of wit and humor. He received numerous honors and accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize on two occasions: in 1960 for his String Quartet no. 2 and in 1973 for his String Quartet no. 3. Other awards include Germany’s Ernst Von Siemens Music Prize and the Prince Pierre Foundation Music Award. Carter was the first composer to receive the United States National Medal of Arts, and is one of a handful of composers inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. He was recognized twice by the Government of France: being named Commander of the “Ordre des Arts et des Lettres,” and receiving the insignia of Commander of the Legion of Honor in September 2012.

Born in New York City, Elliott Carter was encouraged towards a career in classical music by his friend and mentor Charles Ives. He studied under composers Walter Piston and Gustav Holst while attending Harvard University, and later traveled to Paris, studying with Nadia Boulanger. Following his studies in France, he returned to New York and devoted his time to composing and teaching, holding posts over the years at St. John’s College, the Peabody Conservatory, Yale University, Cornell University, and The Juilliard School, among others.

Carter’s early works, such as his Symphony No. 1 (1942) and Holiday Overture (1944), are written in a neoclassical style — influenced by his contemporaries Copland, Hindemith, and Stravinsky. After the Second World War, in works such as his Cello Sonata (1948) and String Quartet No. 1 (1950-51) he began to develop a signature rhythmic and harmonic language, which he continued to refine to the very end of his life. Igor Stravinsky hailed his Double Concerto for harpsichord, piano, and two chamber orchestras (1961) and Piano Concerto (1965) as “masterpieces.”

Carter wrote many pieces based on literature throughout his career, setting texts by acclaimed American poets such as John Ashbery, Elizabeth Bishop, E.E. Cummings, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, John Hollander, Robert Lowell, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, and Louis Zukofsky. A creative burst of imagination began in earnest during the 1980s with works such as Night Fantasies (1980), Triple Duo (1982-83), Penthode (1985), and major orchestral essays such as his Oboe Concerto (1986–87), Three Occasions for Orchestra (1989), Violin Concerto (1990), and Symphonia: sum fluxae pretium spei (1993–96). Carter’s only opera, What Next? (1997–98), with a libretto by Paul Griffiths, was introduced by Daniel Barenboim, a champion of the composer’s music, in Berlin in 1999, and has since been produced at Tanglewood, in Munich, New York, Vienna, Melbourne, Montpellier, and Duisburg. Carter’s remarkable late-career creative burst continued at an astonishing rate, encouraged by commissions from Pierre Boulez and the Ensemble Intercontemporain, Oliver Knussen and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, James Levine and the Boston Symphony, the Aldeburgh, Lucerne, and Tanglewood Festivals, and ensembles from Boston to Seattle, London to Ljubljana. Carter composed more than sixty works after the age of ninety including his Cello Concerto (2000), Of Rewaking (2002), Dialogues (2003), Three Illusions for Orchestra (2004), Mosaic (2004), and In the Distances of Sleep (2006).

In his final years, Carter continued to complete works with astounding frequency, including Interventions for piano and orchestra (2007), Flute Concerto (2008), What are Years (2009), Concertino for Bass Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra (2009), and The American Sublime (2011). Carter’s last completed orchestral work, Instances (2012), was premiered by the Seattle Symphony in February 2013. His final work, Epigrams (2012) for piano trio, was premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in June 2013.

chaya czernowinChaya Czernowin was born and brought up in Israel. After her studies in Israel, at the age of 25, she continued studying in Germany (DAAD grant), the US, and then was invited to live in Japan (Asahi Shimbun Fellowship and NEA grant), in Germany (at the Akademie Schloss Solitude), and in Vienna. Czernowin’s music has been performed throughout the world, by some of the best performers of new music. She has held a professorship at UCSD and was the first woman to be appointed a composition professor at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria (2006–2009), and at Harvard University (2009 to the present) where she has been the Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music. Together with Jean-Baptiste Jolly, the director of Akademie Schloss Solitude near Stuttgart, and composer Steven Kazuo Takasugi, she founded the summer Academy at Schloss Solitude, a biannual course for composers. Takasugi and Czernowin also teach at Tzlil Meudcan, an international course based in Israel founded by Yaron Deutsch of Ensemble Nikel.

Czernowin’s output includes chamber and orchestral music, with and without electronics. Her works have been played in most of the significant new music festivals in Europe and also in Japan Korea, Australia, the US, and Canada. She composed two large-scale works for the stage: Pnima…ins Innere (2000, Munich Biennale) and Adama (2004-05) with Mozart’s Zaide (Salzburg Festival 2006). She was appointed Artist in residence at the Salzburg Festival in 2005-06 and at the Lucern Festival, Switzerland in 2013. Characteristic of her work include working with metaphor as a means of reaching a sound world which is unfamiliar; the use of noise and physical parameters; problematization of time and unfolding and shifting of scale in order to create a vital, visceral and direct sonic experience; all with the aim of reaching a music of the subconscious which goes beyond style conventions or rationality.

In addition to numerous other prizes, Czernowin represented Israel at UNESCO composer’s Rostrum in 1980; was awarded the DAAD scholarship (’83–85); Stipendiumpreis (’88) and Kranichsteiner Musikpreis (’92), at Darmstadt Fereinkurse; the composer’s prize of Siemens Foundation (2003); the Rockefeller Foundation, (2004); a nomination as a fellow to the Wissenschaftkolleg Berlin (2008); Fromm Foundation Award (2009); and Guggenheim Foundation fellowship (2011); Heidelberger Kunstlerinen Preis (2016). The Wergo CD Chaya Czernowin: The Quiet has been awarded the Quarterly German Record Critics’ Award (2016 ).
She is published by Schott. Her music is recorded on Mode Records NY, Wergo, Col Legno, Deutsche Gramophone, Neos, Ethos, Telos and Einstein Records. She lives near Boston with, composer Steven Kazuo Takasugi and their son.

hilda paredesFirmly established as one of the leading Mexican composers of her generation, Hilda Paredes has made her home in London since 1979, and her music is now performed around the world at major international festivals by prominent international ensembles and soloists.

Paredes has been critically acclaimed by the press as “a composer with a fresh aural imagination” (The Guardian) and “admired for compositions that mix modernist rigor and extended techniques with a primal energy rooted in Maya lore” (New York Times).

After studying at the Conservatoire in Mexico City with Mario Lavista, Paredes was an active participant in master classes at Dartington Summer School. She studied with Peter Maxwell Davies, Harrison Birtwistle, and Richard Rodney Bennett. After graduating from the Guildhall School of Music, she obtained her Master of Arts at City University in London and completed her Ph.D. at Manchester University.

Paredes continues to be involved in the musical life of her native country as a composer and teacher. There is a testimony of a constant collaboration with Mexican poets and artists in her works, and her music has been acclaimed by the critics for the refinement of her craft, marked by the intensity of the relationship between time, dramatic force and poetical approach.

Paredes has been recipient of important awards, such as the Arts Council of Great Britain fellowship for composers and the J.S. Guggenheim Fellowship in the USA. She is currently a member of Sistema Nacional de Creadores in Mexico.

Paredes has been commissioned by soloists, ensembles, and orchestras around the world. Her music has been performed by internationally renowned ensembles such as Trio Arbós, Arditti Quartet, Aventure, Court Circuit, Ensemble Intercontemporain, L’Instant donné, Hilliard Ensemble, Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Recherche, Ensemble Signal, Grup Instrumental de Valencia, ICE, London Sinfonietta, Lontano, The New Julliard Ensemble, Neue Vocalsolisten, Ensamble Sospeso, Psappha, Ensemble Phoenix Basle, MDi Ensemble, Orchestra di l’Arena de Verona, RTE amongst others. Her music has been widely performed at important international festivals, such as Huddersfield Contemporary Music and Edinburgh Festival in the UK; Eclat and Ultraschall in Germany; Festival d’Automne a Paris, Musica and Octobre en Normandie, in France; Wien Modern, in Austria; Akiyoshidai and Takefu Music Festivals, in Japan; Archipel and Music monat, in Switzerland; De Ijsbreker Chamber Music Festival, in Amsterdam; Warsaw Autumn, in Poland; Ultima, in Oslo; Melbourne Festival, in Australia; Festival of Arts and Ideas in the USA, Ars Musica in Bruxelles; Festival de Alicante, Festival de Música Religiosa de Cuenca and ENSEMS Festival, in Spain; Festival Internacional Cervantino in Mexico, among others.

Paredes recently completed Siphonophorae, for Ensemble Recherche Ensemble who premiered it in November 2016.

As a freelance lecturer, Hilda has taught composition and lectured at Manchester University, the University of San Diego California, University of Buffalo and other prestigious universities in the US as well as at Centre Acanthes in France. In 2007, she was appointed the Darius Milhuad Visiting Professor at Mills College in the US. In 2011, she was visiting professor at the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya in Barcelona and in the 2015 spring term at Dartmouth College in the US. She recently returned to Mills College as the as the Jean Macduff Vaux Composer-in-Residence, where a portrait concert of her chamber music was performed at the Littlefield Concert Hall.

Most of her works are published by University of York Music Press: www.uymp.co.uk

arditti quartetThe Arditti Quartet enjoys a world-wide reputation for their spirited and technically refined interpretations of contemporary and earlier 20th century music. Many hundreds of string quartets and other chamber works have been written for the ensemble since its foundation by first violinist Irvine Arditti in 1974. Many of these works have left a permanent mark on 20th century repertoire and have given the Arditti Quartet a firm place in music history. World premieres of quartets by composers such as Abrahamsen, Ades, Andriessen, Aperghis, Birtwistle, Britten, Cage, Carter, Denisov, Dillon, Dufourt, Dusapin, Fedele, Ferneyhough, Francesconi, Gubaidulina, Guerrero, Harvey, Hosokawa, Kagel, Kurtag, Lachenmann, Ligeti, Maderna, Manoury, Nancarrow, Reynolds, Rihm, Scelsi, Sciarrino, Stockhausen, and Xenakis and hundreds more show the wide range of music in the Arditti Quartet’s repertoire.

The ensemble believes that close collaboration with composers is vital to the process of interpreting modern music and therefore attempts to work with every composer it plays.

The players’ commitment to educational work is indicated by their master classes and workshops for young performers and composers all over the world.

The Arditti Quartet’s extensive discography now features over 200 CDs.

42 CDs were released as part of the ensemble’s series on Naive Montaigne. This series set the trend, by presenting numerous contemporary composer features, recorded in their presence as well as the first digital recordings of the complete Second Viennese School’s chamber music for strings. The quartet has recorded for more than 20 other CD labels and together this CD collection is the most extensive available of quartet literature in the last 40 years. To name just a few, Berio, Cage, Carter, Lachenmann, Ligeti, Nono, Rihm, the complete chamber music of Xenakis and Stockhausen’s infamous Helicopter Quartet. Some of the most recent releases are with the French company Aeon and include profiles of Harvey, Dusapin, Birtwistle, Gerhard, Ferneyhough, and Paredes.

Over the past 30 years, the ensemble has received many prizes for its work. They have won the Deutsche Schallplatten Preis several times and the Gramophone Award for the best recording of contemporary music in 1999 (Elliott Carter) and 2002 (Harrison Birtwistle). In 2004 they were awarded the Coup de Coeur prize by the Academie Charles Cros in France for their exceptional contribution to the dissemination of contemporary music. The prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize was awarded to them in 1999 for lifetime achievement in music. They remain to this day the only ensemble ever to receive it.

The complete archive of the Arditti quartet is housed in the Sacher Foundation in Basle, Switzerland.

eliot fiskGuitarist Eliot Fisk is known worldwide as a charismatic performer famed for his adventurous and virtuosic repertoire. He is also celebrated for his willingness to take art music into unusual venues (including schools, senior centers, logging camps and prisons). After 45 years before the public he remains as his mentor Andres Segovia once wrote, “at the top line of our artistic world.”

In the 2016-17 season Fisk continues to break new ground for the guitar with marathon performances of his transcriptions of all 6 Bach solo cello Suites at the National Gallery in Washington DC. 2016 also saw the long awaited release of Robert Beaser’s monumental Guitar Concerto, dedicated to Eliot Fisk, with Jose Serebrier leading the Royal Scottish National Orchestra on LINN Records.

Fisk has performed as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Houston Symphony, the Rochester Symphony, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, the Pro Arte Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) and numerous other prominent orchestras around the world. He returns regularly to major concert series such as Stanford Live Arts, Spivey Hall (Atlanta), Duke Performances, Newman Center for the Performing Arts in Denver; Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the 92nd Street Y in NYC; Da Camera Society of Houston, Da Camera Society of Los Angeles, San Francisco Chamber Music; Segovia Series at Pick Staiger Hall at Northwestern Unviersity; Jordan Hall, Boston; Orange County Performing Arts Center; Brahms, Mozart and Schubert Saal (Vienna); Mozarteum Grosser Saal (Salzburg); Wigmore Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall (London) and at numerous guitar festivals such as those of Cordoba, Spain; Belgrade, Serbia; and Iserlohn, Bad Aibling and Hersbrueck, Germany.

Fisk has performed with a dizzying array of chamber music colleagues including flutist, Paula Robison; and clarinetist, Richard Stoltzman; cellist Yehuda Hanani; the late violinist Ruggiero Ricci; the Shanghai, Juilliard, Miro, and Borromeo Quartets. He has invented numerous crossover projects with Paco Pena (flamenco guitar); Joe Pass and Bill Frisell (jazz guitar); chanteuse Ute Lemper; and Turkish music specialist Burhan Oecal.

The repertoire of the classical guitar has been transformed through Fisk’s innumerable transcriptions (including works by Bach, Scarlatti, Haydn, Mozart, Paganini, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Granados, Albeniz, and many others). In addition, numerous new works have been dedicated to him by composers as varied as Luciano Berio, Leonardo Balada, Robert Beaser, Nicholas Maw, George Rochberg, Daniel Bernard Roumain, and Kurt Schwertsik.

Eliot Fisk remains a prolific recording artist. Recent releases include Ralf Gawlick’s Kollwitz Konnex for soprano and guitar (Musica Omnia), Anthony Paul de Ritis’s Pop Concerto with Gil Rose leading the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, a pair of CDs of new music dedicated to and transcribed by Fisk of works by Beaser, Corigliano, Schwertsik, and Rochberg (WIldner Records); and duo discs with flamenco legend Paco Pena (on Nimbus Records) and cellist Yehuda Hanani (Albany Records).

Fisk was the last direct pupil of Andres Segovia and also studied interpretation with the legendary harpsichordist Ralph Kirkpatrick at Yale University, from which he graduated summa cum laude in 1976, and where directly following his own graduation in 1977, he founded the guitar department at the Yale School of Music.

Described by one New York Times headline as a “Fiery Missionary to the Unconverted” Eliot Fisk is professor at the Universitaet Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, where he teaches in five languages, and in Boston at the New England Conservatory where in 2010 he received the Krasner Award as Teacher of the Year.

In June 2006, King Juan Carlos of Spain awarded Fisk the Cruz de Isabel la Catolica for his service to the cause of Spanish music. Earlier recipients of this honor have included Andres Segovia and Yehudi Menuhin.

Eliot Fisk is founder and artistic director of Boston Guitar Fest (www.bostonguitarfest.org) an annual cross- disciplinary event co-sponsored by the New England Conservatory and Northeastern University and now entering its 11th consecutive year.

In summer of 2014 he toured China, performing with his wife, classical guitarist Zaira Meneses, and the couple’s young daughter, pianist Raquel Fisk.

In addition to his legendary career as first violinist of the Arditti Quartet, Irvine Arditti has also given life to many solo works. Born in London in 1953, Irvine Arditti began his studies at the Royal Academy of Music at the age of 16. He joined the London Symphony Orchestra in 1976 and after two years, at the age of 25, became its Co-Concert Master. He left the orchestra in 1980 in order to devote more time to the Arditti Quartet which he had formed while still a student.

Irvine Arditti has given the world premieres of a plethora of large scale works especially written for him. These include Xenakis’ Dox Orkh and Hosokawa’s Landscape III, both for violin and orchestra, as well as Ferneyhough’s Terrain, Francesconi’s Riti Neurali and Body Electric, Dillon’s Vernal Showers and Harvey’s Scena, Paredes Señales, Pauset’s Vita Nova, Reynolds Aspiration and Sciarrino’s Le Stagioni Artificiali all for violin and ensemble.

He has appeared with many distinguished orchestras and ensembles including the Bayerische Rundfunk, BBC Symphony, Berlin Radio Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw, Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Paris, Het Residentie den Hague, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Asko Ensemble, Avanti, Ensemble Contrechamps, Nieuw Ensemble, Nouvel Ensemble Modern, Oslo Sinfonietta, and Schoenberg Ensemble. His performances of many concertos have won acclaim by their composers, in particular Ligeti and Dutilleux.

As well as having recorded over 200 CDs with the Arditti Quartet, Irvine Arditti has built an impressive catalogue of solo recordings. His CD of solo violin works by composers such as Carter, Estrada, Ferneyhough and Donatoni, as well as his recording of Nono’s La Lontananza, both on the label Montaigne Auvidis, have been awarded numerous prizes. His recording of Cage’s Freeman Etudes for solo violin, as part of his complete Cage violin music series for American label Mode, has made musical history. The series is now complete. The violin concertos by Berio, Xenakis and Mira, recorded in Moscow with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, are featured on a disc by Swedish label Bis. To be released shortly on the Mode label will be Hilda Paredes’ Señales with Signal conducted by Brad Lubman.
Irvine Arditti’s arrangement for quartet of Cage’s 44 Harmonies from Apartment House can be found on Mode Records and is published by Edition Peters in New York.

The complete Mode recordings of Berio’s Sequenza’s, on which Arditti recorded the violin sequenza won the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis for 2007, and was awarded best contemporary music release by the Italian music magazine Amadeus in 2008.

In September Arditti returned to the US for performances in California. He has been collaborating with Roger Reynolds and the computer musician Paul Hembree on a work for solo violin and electronics called Shifting Drifting. This work received its premiere in September at UCSD, San Diego. Further performances took place at Cal Arts in Los Angeles on 30th September and Stanford University on 5th October.

Irvine was in residence in Cal Arts during this period and on 29th September gave a recital at RedCat theatre with music by Boulez, Dillon, Hosokawa, Nunes, Paredes and Sciarrino. He also gave the premiere of two new pieces, imagE andimAge by Roger Reynolds. On 1st October at CalArts there was also a performance of Reynoldsviolin concerto, Aspiration conducted by Mark Menzies.
On October 9, there was a recital at the Samobor festival, Zagreb.

This recital was given in connection with the New Note 4th International composers competition Croatia, where this year the winner was Massimo Lauricella. His work Kairos was performed in the concert alongside music by Boulez, Dillon,Hosokawa, Nunes, Paredes and Sciarrino.

On 12th March 2016 Irvine returned to Mexico city where he gave a performance of Francesconi’s Riti Neurali with Ensemble Cepromusic under Jose Luis Castillo. The programme also incuded a performance of James Dillon’s Del Cuarto Elemento for solo violin.

On 4th August 2016 a further performance of Reynolds Shifting Drifting can be heard in the Darmstadt Summer school for new music.

In July 2013, The Techniques of Violin Playing, a book by Arditti and the composer Robert Platz was release by Barenreiter Edition.

Sarkissjan was born on the 26th of February 1977 in Yerevan, Armenia. He studied with Ara Bogdanian at the Tchaikovsky Music College in his home town, at the Musikhochschule Lübeck, where his principal teachers were Maria Egelhof, violin, and Walter Levin, string quartet, and with Mihaela Martin at the Hochschule für Musik Cologne. He is laureate of the international competitions in Lublin and Mainz. Since his student years, contemporary music has been a domain of major importance for him. As co-founder of the Ensemble Neue Musik Lübeck, he worked regularly with students from the composition classes, premiering new pieces written for violin or string quartet. He participated in the Academie du 20e Siècle, an annual summer course organized in Paris by Ensemble Intercontemporain.

From 2002-2005 Sarkissjan was a member of Ensemble Intercontemporain (EIC) in Paris, where he worked with many composers including Pierre Boulez, Gyorgy Kurtag, and Brian Ferneyhough. He has appeared as soloist with the EIC, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Stavanger Symfoniorkester (Norway) under conductors such as Sakari Oramo and Jonathan Nott, and also worked, on many occasions, with Ensemble Modern Frankfurt.

Sarkissjan has appeared as soloist together with the soprano Laura Aikin in Le Sacrifice, an oratorio for violin, soprano and ensemble by the Finnish composer Kimmo Hakola. He has performed in many European countries, but also in Russia and the US, and took part in such festivals as Lucerne and Lincoln Center in New York. In his concerts in Armenia, he has introduced many major works of the 20th century, many never performed there before. He has also given masterclasses in Paris and Cologne.

Ashot joined the Arditti Quartet in June 2005.

His violin is by Stephan von Baehr, 2002.

Ralf started playing the viola at age 12, in his home town of São Paulo, Brazil. Six years later he won the 1989 international competition Sul América and went on to give recitals across South America and to play concertos with some Brazil’s leading orchestras.

Ralf continued his studies in Detmold, Germany, with Nobuko Imai, and at the Salzburg Mozarteum in Austria with Thomas Riebl, where he discovered his passion for chamber music. A founding member of the Pulcinella Quartet, Ralf later moved to England, where he was a member of groups as diverse as the Raphael Ensemble, the Solomon Ensemble, and Configure8. Other chamber music partners have included Steven Isserlis, Gabor Takacs, the Emperor String Quartet and the New Zealand String Quartet.

Ralf has cultivated a particular interest in the works of living composers. In 1997, he gave the European premiere of George Benjamin’s Viola Viola with Garth Knox. He has also worked with many contemporary ensembles including the Austrian Ensemble for New Music, the London Sinfonietta, Musikfabrik, and Ensemble Modern in Frankfurt, with whom he performed Brian Ferneyhough’s Incipits for viola and ensemble at the Salzburg Festival in 2005.

In 2003, Ralf was given the opportunity to combine his two passions – chamber music and contemporary music – by joining the Arditti Quartet. He has since performed with his quartet in most of the world’s major concert halls, and with many of the leading orchestras of today.

The Quartet’s schedule permitting, Ralf also enjoys playing within different musical frameworks. More recently, he featured as a soloist with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for some performances of ‘Harold in Italy’ by Berlioz, and taught master classes which culminated in a recital of solo works – some of which were written for him – in the ‘International Symposium for Contemporary Music’ in Curitiba, Brazil.

Ralf plays on a viola which he made himself in 2005.

Lucas Fels is one of the most distinguished cellists for music of our time. His close collaborations with composers such as Klaus Huber, Helmut Lachenmann, Wolfgang Rihm, Salvatore Sciarrino, and Beat Furrer led to numerous works dedicated to him. At the Donaueschinger Musiktage, in which Fels has regularly taken part since 1993, he has premiered cello concertos by Wolfgang Rihm (Styx und Lethe, 1998) and Walter Zimmermann (Subrisio Saltat, 2003) among others. In 2002, he premiered Sebastian Claren’s cello concerto After Blinky Palermo at the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik Darmstadt.

Born in Lörrach in 1962, Fels received his first cello lessons from Rolf Looser in Basle and Zurich. He subsequently studied in Freiburg with Christoph Henkel, in Amsterdam with Anner Bijlsma and in Fiesole/Florence with Amadeo Baldovino. He participated in master classes by Antonio Janigro, Siegfried Palm and Bruno Canino amongst others.

As founding member of the highly renowned Ensemble Recherche, which specialises in new Music, Fels has been actively involved in the development of contemporary chamber and ensemble music. Ensemble Recherche has premiered around four hundred works since its foundation in 1985.

Fels has taught regularly at different conservatories (Lucerne, Essen, Brno, Lviv) and has lectured at the Darmstädter Ferienkurse since 1998. Together with Ensemble Recherche and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, he founded the Ensemble Academy Freiburg in 2004, which offers courses in the performance of ancient and new music to professional musicians and advanced students. In July 2005, he participated in the Centre Acanthes Metz as soloist and teacher.

More than 30 CDs with solo and chamber music works document the wide range of Fels’s repertoire. His recent recordings include Bernd Alois Zimmermann Märchensuite / Canto di speranza / Impromptu / Alagoana. Caprichos Brasileiros were released on Wergo, Beat Furrer Gaspra on Kairos and Sebastian Claren After Blinky Palermo on col legno.



In the News

RONNI REICH, PEAK PERFORMANCES’ 2016–17 SEASON MAGAZINE: “William Bolcom: Embracing All Terrain”
“At the festival, the Harlem Quartet will play a selection of Bolcom’s rags, arranged for string quartet, alongside Latin and jazz standards and a Mozart work.”

The Guardian: The Ardittis Triumphed in Their 40th Anniversary Concert
Musicians Portrait: Interview with Irvine Arditti


“Peak Performances Executive Director Jedediah Wheeler conceived the All Terrain String Festival to celebrate the richness and range of the string quartet landscape. The festival is remarkably broad not only in its lineup, but also in the program of music comprising each concert. It opens, on March 31, with the Harlem Quartet, which aims to advance diversity in classical music, in part by performing works by minority composers in multiple genres.”