French ensemble brings interdisciplinary exploration through lens of contemporary and traditional string quartet repertoire
Chicago (Hyde Park) – The acclaimed French string quartet Quatuor Diotima, recognized around the world for interdisciplinary collaborations that cast a new light on both masterpieces of the quartet canon and contemporary additions to the genre, has been appointed the newest Don Michael Randel Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Chicago for the 2020-21 academic year.
Formed in 1996 by graduates of the Conservatoire de Paris, Quatuor Diotima has become an ardent champion of contemporary music, collaborating closely with several of the greatest composers of the late twentieth century including Pierre Boulez and Helmut Lachenmann, as well as vital interpreters of 19th and 20th century repertoire, particularly that of the Second Viennese School (Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern) and of Beethoven, Schubert, Bartók, Debussy, Ravel, and Janáček.
The ensemble, which succeeds GRAMMY-nominated Puerto Rican band Plena Libre (Ensemble-in- Residence for the 2019-20 year), will be the second string quartet to serve as Don Michael Randel Ensemble in Residence, and its members will engage with disciplines across schools and divisions through a wide variety of programming including performances, panels and moderated discussions, classroom presentations, workshops, and more.
“The University is thrilled to welcome Quatuor Diotima to campus,” said David Levin, Senior Adviser to the Provost for Arts. “The ensemble’s infectious sense of curiosity and its commitment to rigorous exploration through music of topics ranging from visual art to human development to mathematics aligns perfectly with the commitment to intense interdisciplinary inquiry that permeates the campus.”
The quartet members—Yun-Peng Zhao, violin; Constance Ronzatti, violin; Franck Chevalier, viola; Pierre Morlet, cello—have made education a fundamental component of their work, both in traditional settings and in more innovative contexts, adapting programs and presenting concerts outside of the concert hall to new and diverse audiences. The ensemble has developed a series of master classes bringing together young composers with quartets from around the world, and it has hosted cross- disciplinary panels examining the intersection of music with topics including art, sociology, mathematics, and more.
“We are very excited to bring our music and our inquisitiveness as an ensemble to the University of Chicago,” said Franck Chevalier of Quatuor Diotima. “Music is a remarkable language that can reveal connections among a great diversity of people and ideas, and it can elucidate seemingly unconnected subjects in new ways. We look forward joining the University and community in the spirit of exploration for which it is so renowned.”
Quatuor Diotima will make three visits to the University for weeklong residencies in each of the Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters of 2020 and 2021. The ensemble will offer more than six performances with UChicago Presents, the University Symphony Orchestra, and the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition, with repertoire ranging from Beethoven and Bartók to contemporary composers, including new music developed in collaboration with University of Chicago graduate composers. The group will also participate in interdisciplinary panels and discussions, make classroom visits and presentations, and lead workshops and perform at the UChicago Lab School and engage with school and community music programs in the city.
“The Music Department is thrilled to have Quatuor Diotima joining us on campus next year as the Don Michael Randel Ensemble,” said Seth Brodsky, Associate Professor in the Department of Music. “Very few string quartets out there—very few ensembles of any kind, really—harness the history of their own genre as precisely, and with as much poetry, as Diotima. Their concerts have an epic quality. They don’t just play Schubert next to a Rebecca Saunders quartet from 2017; they tie the two together, they perform the thread between them. They make music history feel like a grand experiment again. We can’t wait for their residency to reach across the campus, and to partner with its many branches— UChicago Presents, the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition, the Department of Music, and schools and departments throughout the University.”
The Randel residency was established with a gift from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to honor its departing president and noted musicologist, Don Michael Randel, who served as the 12th president of the University of Chicago and is an emeritus faculty member in the Department of Music. The funding supports an acclaimed musical ensemble for up to three years, providing a permanent home for world- class musicians to engage with the University and Hyde Park communities. The Pacifica Quartet, resident ensemble in the Department of Music for 17 years, was the first to hold the appointment as Don Michael Randel Ensemble-in-Residence beginning in 2013. Subsequent Ensembles in Residence have been Imani Winds (2016-2018), Sweet Honey In The Rock (2018-19), and the current Ensemble in Residence Plena Libre (2019-20).
Further information about Quatuor Diotima’s residency concerts and events will be announced later in 2020. Visit music.uchicago.edu for information. To learn more about Quatuor Diotima, visit quatuordiotima.fr/.