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Gryphon Trio and Catalyst Quartet debut in Winter Chamber Music Festival

Jan. 11 to 27 series features Grammy Award winner James Ehnes

Bienen School Quartet-in-Residence the Dover Quartet performs Jan. 11, 2019
Bienen School Quartet-in-Residence the Dover Quartet performs Jan. 11, 2019
James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong perform Jan. 13, 2019
James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong perform Jan. 13, 2019
The Gryphon Trio makes its Bienen debut Jan. 18, 2019
The Gryphon Trio makes its Bienen debut Jan. 18, 2019
The Jupiter String Quartet performs Jan. 25, 2019
The Jupiter String Quartet performs Jan. 25, 2019
Bienen faculty and guests perform Jan. 27, 2019
Bienen faculty and guests perform Jan. 27, 2019
The Catalyst Quartet makes its Bienen debut Jan. 11, 2019
The Catalyst Quartet makes its Bienen debut Jan. 11, 2019

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music will begin the 2019 Winter Chamber Music Festival Jan. 11. The series features the festival debuts of the Gryphon Trio and Catalyst Quartet. Other guest artists include Grammy Award-winning violinist James Ehnes, Bienen School Quartet-in-Residence the Dover Quartet and the return of the internationally-acclaimed Jupiter String Quartet.

All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, located at 50 Arts Circle Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

The 2019 Winter Chamber Music Festival is made possible in part by the generous support of the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation.

The festival schedule is as follows:

Dover Quartet

Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, 7:30 p.m.

Bienen School Quartet-in-Residence the Dover Quartet is the winner of a Cleveland Quartet Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant and the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition. The Dover Quartet has become one of the most in-demand string quartets in the world. The Chicago Tribune reported  “The Dover Quartet players have it in them to become the next Guarneri String Quartet – they’re that good.” The quartet’s 2018-2019 season highlights include engagements with the Kennedy Center, San Francisco Performances, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Spivey Hall, Boston’s Celebrity Series, the Chamber Music Society of Detroit and Carnegie Hall as well as tours of Europe, Hong Kong and Australia. Their program includes Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Quartet No. 3 in E-flat minor; Mason Bates’s “From Amber Frozen” and Franz Schubert’s Quartet in G major. The Dover Quartet’s performance is generously supported by the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation.

James Ehnes, violin and Andrew Armstrong, piano

Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, 7:30 p.m.

One of the foremost violinists of his generation, James Ehnes has been called “a supreme virtuoso” by The Daily Telegraph and is a favorite guest of renowned conductors Vladimir Ashkenazy, Marin Alsop and Sir Andrew Davis. He appears regularly at Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall and Chicago’s Symphony Center. His recording of the Korngold, Barber and Walton violin concertos won Grammy and Juno Awards, and his recent recording of the Bartók Concerti was nominated for a Gramophone Award. Pianist Andrew Armstrong has dazzled audiences throughout the world in performances at Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Moscow Conservatory’s Grand Hall and Warsaw’s National Philharmonic, among other venues. His recordings of Rachmaninov, Mussorgsky, Chopin, Liszt and Debussy have received wide critical acclaim. In this program, the duo presents the first of three performances, to be continued in 2020, devoted to Beethoven’s complete violin works. This performance will feature Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas No. 2 in A Major, Op. 12; No. 7 in C Minor, Op. 30 and No. 10 in G Major, Op. 96. The performance is followed by a subscriber reception.

Gryphon Trio

Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, 7:30 p.m.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Gryphon Trio continues to impress audiences throughout North America and Europe. Dedicated to pushing the boundaries of chamber music, the piano trio has commissioned and premiered more than 70 new works from established and emerging composers and has collaborated on special projects with clarinetist James Campbell, actor Colin Fox and choreographer David Earle, among others. Their most ambitious undertaking to date is a multimedia production of composer Christos Hatzis’s “Constantinople.” The trio has received Juno Awards for their 2004 release “Canadian Premieres” and their 2011 recording of the music of Beethoven. Their most recent release, “The End of Flowers,” features music of Rebecca Clarke and Maurice Ravel. Their program includes Joseph Haydn’s Trio No. 45 in E-flat major, Hob. XV:29; Ludwig van Beethoven’s Trio in E-flat major, Op. 70, No. 2 and Johannes Brahms’s Trio No. 2 in C major, Op. 87.

Catalyst Quartet

Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, 7:30 p.m.

Comprised of top laureates and alumni of the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Competition, the Catalyst Quartet has been called “invariably energetic and finely burnished” by the New York Times. They have toured throughout the U.S. and abroad, including sold-out performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Chicago’s Harris Theater, Miami’s New World Center and Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium. Their festival appearances have included Mainly Mozart in San Diego, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival and the opening performance of the Napa 2014 Festival del Sole with Joshua Bell. In fall of 2017, the quartet released their latest album, “Dreams and Daggers,” featuring Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. Their program features music from South America including Heitor Villa-Lobos’s String Quartet No. 1; Astor Piazzolla’s “Suite del Angel” and Alberto Ginastera’s String Quartet No. 2.

Jupiter String Quartet

Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, 7:30 p.m.

Winner of the Banff International String Quartet Competition, the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the Cleveland Quartet Award and an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Jupiter String Quartet stands at the forefront of the new generation of chamber ensembles. The quartet has appeared at celebrated venues throughout the world, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes, Austria’s Esterházy Palace and Seoul’s National Arts Center. The group has commissioned numerous works by composers including Syd Hodkinson, Hannah Lash, Dan Visconti and Mark Adamo, with a quartet by Kati Agócs that premiered in summer 2018. Their most recent album, “Revelations,” featuring chamber music by Su Lian Tan, was released in 2017. Their program features Felix Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13; Henri Dutilleux’s “Ainsi la nuit”; and Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131.

Bienen Faculty and Guest Artists

Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, 7:30 p.m.

Bienen faculty Gerardo Ribeiro, Helen Callus, José Ramón Méndez, James Giles and John Thorne join guest cellist Stephen Balderston and pianist Kay Kim to finish out the 2019 Winter Chamber Music Festival. They present a performance featuring Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 2 in G minor; Samuel Zyman’s Sonata for Flute and Sergei Taneyev’s Piano Quartet in E major.

Single tickets for any Winter Chamber Music Festival concert are $30 for the general public and $10 for students with a valid ID. Tickets are available at, by phone at 847-467-4000 or by visiting the box office located in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall at 50 Arts Circle Drive on the Evanston campus.

Winter Chamber Music Festival subscriptions are also available and include a variety of benefits, including savings of up to 30 percent.

For concert tickets and more information, call the Bienen School ticket office at 847-467-4000 or visit

The Bienen School is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts.  

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