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Spektral Quartet

Chicago, IL            

Multi-Grammy nominees, the Spektral Quartet actively pursues a vivid conversation between exhilarating works of the traditional repertoire and those written this decade, this year, or this week. Since its inception in 2010, 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.

With a tour schedule including some of the country’s most notable concert venues such as the Kennedy Center, Miller Theater, Library of Congress, and NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, the quartet also takes great pride in its home city of Chicago: championing the work of local composers, bridging social and aesthetic partitions, and cultivating its ongoing collaborations and residencies in the Chicago region. For the 20/21 Season, Spektral is pleased to announce it’s Digital Artist Residency at University Musical Society (UMS) with Lebanese-born Afro-Tarab/jazz innovator Tarek Yamani.

Named “Chicagoans of the Year” by the Chicago Tribune in 2017, Spektral Quartet is most highly regarded for its creative and stylistic versatility.



  • The New Yorker: “The Spektral has accomplished the signal service of obliterating the dividing line between past and present, tradition and avant-garde; chronological barriers collapse, and the sounds roam free.”

  • New York Times: “they have everything: a supreme technical command that seems to come easily, a capacity to make complicated music clear, and, most notably…an ability to cast a magic spell”

  • Gramophone: “geeky, highly-interactive, creative and collaborative…unlike anything its intended audience – or anyone else – has ever heard.”


  • Over 85 composers commissioned for new work, including: Samuel Carl Adams (Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra), Marcos Balter (International Contemporary Ensemble, Amazonas Filarmonica), Anthony Cheung (Ensemble Intercontemporain, New York Philharmonic), Tonia Ko (Minnesota Orchestra, WildUp), George Lewis (IRCAM, Talea Ensemble), Hans Thomalla (Stuttgart Opera, Arditti Quartet), Augusta Read Thomas (Berlin Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony), Anna Thorvaldsdottir (New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic), and Christopher Trapani (BBC, Ensemble Modern).


  • Mobile Miniatures: commissioning and recording of over forty composers to write ringtone-length pieces for download to mobile phones – bringing classical and experimental music into everyday life

  • Morton Feldman’s String Quartet No. 2: delivering the Chicago premiere of this staggering, 6-hour-long masterpiece

  • The Dovetail Series: an ongoing musical dialogue between Chicago’s north and south sides – a collision and collusion of cultures in partnership with Theaster Gates’s Rebuild Foundation.

  • Once More, With Feeling! Series: offering concertgoers a rare second listen on the same night that reveals the subtle layers of a new piece through on-stage conversations with the composer.

  • Close Encounters Series: presenting exclusive, intimate, and unforgettable concert events connecting listeners with the music and its cultural moment through art, architecture, and cuisine.


  • Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Chicago’s Music Department from 2012–2020

  • Digital Artist-in-Residence at UMS (University Musical Society) for the 20/21 Season

  • Residencies at Stanford University, the New World Symphony, Northwestern University, Western Michigan University, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, among others.

  • Guest speakers at the National Association of Schools of Music, New World Symphony, and University of Iowa

  • Local residencies including a social-justice-driven songwriting project at Kenwood Academy on Chicago’s South Side, as well as a season-long neighborhood residency featuring free concerts across Spektral’s home base of Chicago’s Edgewater area.

Sky Macklay: Many Many Cadences

We met Sky Macklay during our week-long residency at The Walden School in New Hampshire – a bucolic retreat we occasionally threaten to move to and illegally homestead – eager to workshop and perform her Many Many Cadences, and also sporting emotional subdural hematoma from the preparation of it. Here you have each instrument base-jumping from the upper reaches of their range, pinging rapid-fire, tonal cadences all the way down in rhythmic unison, only to scramble back up for another adrenaline fix. Heaping nothing but cadences on top of one an

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Live at National Sawdust: George Lewis’s String Quartet No. 1.5, “Experiments in Living”

Commissioning George Lewis was a milestone for us as an ensemble, and audiences around the country are enthusiastic in their reactions to this hyper-kinetic romp. George is a master at making notated music sound extemporaneous, and we will always remember his response when we first played Quartet No. 1.5 for him: “Wow…I wrote a really weird piece!”

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Live at National Sawdust: Anthony Cheung’s Real Book of Fake Tunes (feat. Claire Chase, flute)

This commission brought together some of our all-time favorite people: the astoundingly-talented composer Anthony Cheung, and the absolute force of nature that is flutist Claire Chase. The fluidity and nimbleness of Anthony’s writing compels each instrument to shine brightly…and let’s be real…Spektral wouldn’t be Spektral were it not for the many years of path-carving by visionaries like Claire.

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