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Spektral Quartet

Chicago, IL            

SPEKTRAL QUARTET actively pursues a vivid conversation between exhilarating works of the traditional canon and those written this decade, this year, or this week. With the New York Times writing that “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”, 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.


Spektral Quartet was nominated for Grammy Awards in 2017 (Serious Business) and 2019 (Yo Soy La Tradición)

In 2017, Spektral became one of the few quartets in the world to perform Morton Feldman’s six-hour 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 writes, “…the account was more consistently sensitive to dynamics, color and nuance than on the two existing recordings — an achievement.”

In the 2017/18 season, Spektral performed the full string quartet cycle of Arnold Schoenberg to capacity crowds nationally and around Chicago, prompting The Strad Magazine to write, “It is a testament to the passion that the foursome brought to one of the composer’s most knotty works that the audience was clearly engrossed.”

Notable current and upcoming commissions include works by Tonia Ko, Christopher Trapani, Eliza Brown, and Anna Thorvaldsdottir.


In 2017, The Chicago Tribune named Spektral Quartet classical music’s “Chicagoans of the Year” in part because of the group’s creation of three new series around the city – each highlighting a unique mission.

The Close Encounters series presents chamber music in the way it was first intended–in an intimate space with food and drink, and no shortage of whimsy. These events incorporate extra-musical elements, such as a custom beer brewed from a 1908 Viennese recipe, the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, and a painting party.

Once More, With Feeling! offers listeners that essential ingredient to falling in love with a new piece of music: a second listen. With live conversations with the composer and two performances of the music, this series goes deep with some of Spektral’s favorite collaborators including Eliza Brown, Wadada Leo Smith, Lisa Coons, and Miguel Zenón.

In partnership with Theaster Gates’s Rebuild Foundation, The Dovetail Series is a collision and collusion of musical traditions, with the quartet trading sets with an artist from Chicago’s south side before meeting in the middle for a devised, joint performance.


Spektral Quartet is regarded for forward-thinking endeavors such as Mobile Miniatures, which rallied over forty composers from across the nation, including David Lang, Nico Muhly and Shulamit Ran, to write ringtone-length pieces available for download to mobile devices. As ardent advocates for new music in their home city, the group recorded its debut album, Chambers (Parlour Tapes+), in 2013. Other discography includes two albums on the Nimbus Records label – Of Being Is A Bird and Ritual Incantations – celebrating the work of composer Augusta Read Thomas as well as From This Point Forward (Azica Records) with bandoneon virtuoso Julien Labro. Most recently, Spektral appears on composer Anthony Cheung’s portrait album, Cycles & Arrows (New Focus Records) and jazz saxophonist/composer Miguel Zenón’s Yo Soy La Tradición (Miel Music).

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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