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Emissary Quartet


Emissary Quartet (EQ) is dedicated to expanding the flute quartet repertoire by commissioning and performing new works, creating innovative educational programming, and reaching out to new audiences to advocate for the flute quartet as a genre. 

Unconstrained by geographical boundaries, the flutists of EQ live across the United States, and meet for performance and teaching residencies throughout the year. Recent activities have taken EQ to New York City, Utah, Pittsburgh, Iowa, and Boston, as well as the National Flute Association Convention in San Diego.  In May 2016, EQ competed in the live quarterfinal round of the Fischoff Competition. This season, EQ will perform and present a workshop at the Mid-Atlantic Flute Convention and spend a week performing and teaching in Seattle, WA.

EQ has begun curating a catalogue of new works that fully exploit the dynamic expressive capabilities of four flutes together. With the support of a commission from the Fromm Music Foundation, EQ collaborated with composer Annika Socolofsky to premiere a new work for flute quartet in November 2016. In 2015, Emissary Quartet worked with composer Peter Kramer to adapt his flute trio Wedge for four flutes, the new version of which EQ premiered.  Emissary Quartet hopes to continue developing fruitful collaborative relationships with composers to further the music of their generation and make flute quartet music a significant part of the sound landscape of today.

The quartet’s serious commitment to expanding the flute quartet repertoire is paired with an eagerness to share this music with new audiences in person and online, and to inspire young musicians and flutists. Emissary Quartet has presented workshops and recitals at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, Drake University, Utah Valley University, and at Jeanne Baxtresser and Alberto Almarza’s Consummate Flutist workshop. Workshops for young musicians have included an introduction to extended techniques and composition for flute students of the Suzuki Association of Utah and Utah Flute Association, and performances for elementary and high school students throughout the Pittsburgh area.

Founded in 2009 by students of Jeanne Baxtresser and Alberto Almarza, Emissary Quartet (then under the name Con Brio Flutes), was featured at a 2010 Convocation at the Carnegie Mellon School of Music, with hundreds of students in attendance. EQ was also invited to perform at the 2010 Festival de Musica de Santa Catarina in Brazil. In both 2010 and 2011, Emissary Quartet was invited to play in Carnegie Mellon’s Collage Concert, the annual School of Music showcase. While still at Carnegie Mellon, EQ’s recordings quickly earned notice from colleagues across the country and their YouTube videos from 2010 now have over 29,000 views.

EQ is Weronika Balewski, Meghan Bennett, Colleen McElroy, and Sarah Shin. They are based in Massachusetts, New York, Texas, and Washington. www.emissaryquartet.com

Annika Socolofsky: One wish, your honey lips (2016)

With the support of the Fromm Music Foundation, Emissary Quartet commissioned and premiered this new work by Annika Socolofsky in November 2016. “One wish, your honey lips” is inspired by traditional Irish sean-nós singing, exploring the intricate and subtle spaces between notes. The video recording was created in collaboration with Kevin Eikenberg and four/ten media.

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Peter Kramer: Wedge (2015)

What are the sounds of a choir singing in a cathedral – without the actual singing? “Wedge” examines sounds that are often overlooked or perceived as extraneous, and uses extended techniques and an aleatoric micro-canon to create a fascinating sonic impression. Originally for flute trio, EQ collaborated with Peter Kramer on this re-working of the “Wedge” for four flutes.

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Jennifer Higdon: Steeley Pause (1988)

“Steeley Pause” is just that, steeley and full of sudden pauses that intensify or release tension. A flutist herself, Higdon exploits the edgy, almost metallic sound that the flute can create, shattering any preconceptions about the sonic palate of a flute quartet. With an edgy, explosive force and extreme technical and ensemble demands, this is one of the standout pieces of the flute quartet repertoire.

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