Our season opener explores how modern composers reinvented music of the past. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw was inspired by how music can “suddenly take you to the other side of Alice’s looking glass, in a kind of absurd, subtle, technicolor transition,” and wrote Entr’acte after hearing one of Haydn’s String Quartets. Based on Handel’s Concerto Grosso, Arnold Schoenberg‘s Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra is a rebellion against the Handelian style. Igor Stravinsky‘s charming Pulcinella is based on songs of the 18th-century composer Giovanni Pergolesi, with modern harmonies and orchestration.
Caroline Shaw: Entr’acte
Arnold Schoenberg: Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra in B-flat major (after Handel’s Concerto Grosso, Op. 6, No. 7)
Igor Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite
Skyros Quartet brings a bright and inventive style to the performance stage, having concertized extensively on multiple continents. The members of Skyros Quartet are Sarah Pizzichemi, Brandon Vance, Justin Kurys, and Willie Braun. Established in 2010, they have been heard at some of the most prestigious venues and music festivals including the Aspen Music Festival and School (Aspen, Colorado), Seattle Chamber Music Society (Seattle), Deer Valley Music Festival (Park City, Utah), Sunflower Music Festival (Topeka, Kansas), QuartetFest at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University and Kitchener Waterloo Chamber Music Society (Ontario, Canada), the CommonTone Arts Music Festival (Moscow, Idaho), and at the University of British Columbia concert series (Vancouver, Canada). Skyros has also performed on tour in Xi’an and Hangzhou, China. In 2019, Skyros had the honor of giving the West Coast premiere of the newly composed Piano Quintet by Philip Glass with concert pianist and commissioner Paul Barnes. In 2017, Skyros Quartet, along with cellist Eric Wilson (Emerson String Quartet emeritus), gave the Canadian premiere of Mikołaj Górecki’s Elegy for Cello and String Quartet at the University of British Columbia.
Skyros released their debut album, Introspective Odyssey, to great international acclaim in August 2015. It can be heard on the Navona label of Parma Recordings, and includes works by Sibelius, Turina, and Britten.
As a quartet, Skyros has collaborated with many living composers in the performance of new music. Most recently in 2021 performing with acclaimed percussion group arxduo, they gave the west coast premier of works for percussion duo and string quartet by Michael Laurello and Christopher Dietz. In 2019 Skyros worked with internationally renowned Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks presenting many of his works for string quartet. Skyros performed in the 2017 critically-acclaimed ballet Approaching Ecstasy with contemporary dance company Whim W’him, vocal ensemble The Esoterics, and composer Eric Banks. They have commissioned and premiered string quartets by Kate Skinner (Wounded Bird, She Dances, 2021), Sabrina Clarke (On Whale Beach, 2021), Liza Sobel (Prayer, 2011), and Devin Maxwell (Bouquet Canyon, CA, 2013). They have also worked with Tonia Ko (Aspen Music Festival and School), Charlie Leftridge (in collaboration with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chamber Singers and again with the Esoterics), and Stephanie Martin (Sound in the Land conference at the University of Waterloo). In 2014, Skyros was featured at Fast Forward Austin, a new music festival in Austin, Texas. Skyros performed string trios and quartets by the four composers of the W4 New Music Collective: Ruben Naeff, Molly Herron, Matt Frey, and Tim Hansen. Skyros made up the core string section of the UT New Music Ensemble for its 2011- 2012 season.
Founded in 2010, Skyros earned Masters in Chamber Music Performance from the University of Texas at Austin Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music, mentored by the Miró Quartet and Sandy Yamamoto. From 2012-2015, they served as the first Graduate Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Glenn Korff School of Music, where they completed Doctorates in Chamber Music Performance under the guidance of the Chiara String Quartet. Skyros was also mentored by Earl Carlyss (Juilliard Quartet), James Dunham (Cleveland Quartet), Sylvia Rosenberg, and members of the Takacs, American, Jupiter, and Pacifica String Quartets at the Aspen Music Festival and School Center for Advanced Quartet Studies. Skyros has also been coached extensively by the Muir and Penderecki String Quartets and composer Joan Tower.
Skyros is passionate about educating audiences to the wonders of the string quartet. They regularly visit schools and lead community engagement programs and interactive family concerts, enabling them to inspire audiences of all ages and musical backgrounds. In 2015, the members of Skyros developed an in-school chamber music coaching program from the educational non-profit organization Chamber Music Guild. This in school program provides weekly coachings to young string quartets using a curriculum designed by Skyros. The members of Skyros Quartet became artistic directors of CMG in 2016. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Skyros Quartet and CMG developed a chamber music podcast to stay connected to the larger music community called The Counterpoint Club. Members of Skyros have also served as faculty at Seattle University, Edmonds Community College, Union College (Lincoln, Nebraska), and the University of Texas at Austin String Project. At UNL, they were Graduate Teaching Assistants for chamber music outreach and a teaching-artist class that works with students to develop interactive presentations for children.
In February 2020, Skyros Quartet formed Constellation Creatives, their own non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Constellation Creatives champions innovative experiences of storytelling through the lens of music with a vision to forge an interactive cultural institution embedded in the Puget Sound community.
Skyros Quartet takes its name from the Greek isle of Skyros, one of a quartet of islands in the Aegean Sea.
Philharmonia Northwest’s 2022-23 Season is made possible in part by generous grants from these Season Sponsors: