Thursday, April 7, 2022 | 7:30pm
Herbst TheatreVenue InformationSan Francisco
About This Performance
The Grammy Award-winning Catalyst Quartet returns to complete its series uncovering important American chamber music with what the New York Times calls “invariably energetic and finely burnished playing with earthy vigor.” Pianist Michelle Cann has championed the lush and complex works of Florence Price and is admired by other pianists for her “eloquence and authority.”
All FLORENCE B. PRICE: String Quartet No. 1 in G Major; Quintet for Piano and Strings in E minor; Four Negro Folksongs in Counterpoint; Quintet in A minor for Piano and Strings
Hailed by the New York Times as “invariably energetic and finely burnished…playing with earthy vigor,” the Grammy Award-winning Catalyst Quartet celebrated the 10th Anniversary of its founding by the Sphinx Organization. They have toured widely throughout the United States and abroad, including sold-out performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., at Chicago’s Harris Theater, Miami’s New World Center, and Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall. The Quartet has been guest artists with the Cincinnati Symphony, New Haven Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá, and has served as principal players and featured ensemble with the Sphinx Virtuosi on six national tours. They have performed at prominent music festivals ranging from Mainly Mozart to the Sitka Music Festival and Juneau Jazz and Classics; the Grand Canyon Music Festival, where they appear annually; and the Vail Dance Festival. In 2014 they opened the Festival del Sole in Napa, California with Joshua Bell and participated in England’s Aldeburgh Music Foundation String Quartet Residency.
International engagements have brought them to Russia, South Korea, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Puerto Rico. Residents of New York City, the ensemble has performed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, City Center, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, Schneider Concerts, and Lincoln Center including six concerts with Cécile McLorin Salvant. The subsequent recording won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Catalyst Quartet launched its own New York series CQ@Howl in 2018.
Recent collaborations include (im)igration, with the Imani Winds, CQ Minute, 10 miniature string quartets commissioned for their anniversary. And the premiere of the still, small voice with the Harlem Quartet. UNCOVERED, a multi-CD series of recordings for Azica Records celebrates beautifully crafted works by composers overlooked and sidelined because of their race or gender. Volume 1, released in February 2021 with Anthony McGill and Stewart Goodyear, includes the string quartet and quintets of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Forthcoming releases will feature music of Florence Price, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still and George Walker, among others.
Catalyst Quartet’s other recordings include: The Bach/Gould Project, featuring the Quartet’s arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations paired with Glenn Gould’s String Quartet Opus 1; Strum, music of Jessie Montgomery; Bandoneon y cuerdas: tango-inspired music for string quartet and bandoneon by JP Jofre; and Dreams and Daggers with Cecile McLorin Salvant.
Catalyst Quartet combines a serious commitment to diversity and education with a passion for contemporary works. They serve as principal faculty at the Sphinx Performance Academy at The Cleveland Institute of Music and Curtis Institute of Music. Past residencies have included concerts at the University of Michigan, University of Washington, Rice University, Houston’s Society for the Performing Arts, The Virginia Arts Festival, the In Harmony Project in England, The University of South Africa, and The Teatro De Bellas Artes in Cali, Colombia. Their residency in Havana, Cuba in January 2019, was the first by an American string quartet since the revolution.
Catalyst Quartet is a Sphinx ensemble and proudly endorses Pirastro strings.
Pianist Michelle Cann made her orchestral debut at age fourteen and has since performed as a soloist with numerous ensembles including The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, the Florida Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony, and the New Jersey Orchestra.
A champion of the music of Florence Price, Ms. Cann performed the New York City premiere of the composer’s Concerto in One Movement with The Dream Unfinished Orchestra in July 2016 and the Philadelphia premiere with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin in February 2021, which the Philadelphia Inquirer called “exquisite.” She has also performed Price’s works for solo piano and chamber ensemble for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music Society of Detroit, and the New World Symphony, among other presenters.
Highlights of her Summer 2021 activities include a repeat performance with The Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, an appearance with the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, and a role on the jury of the Cleveland International Piano Competition.
Ms. Cann regularly appears in recital and as a chamber musician throughout the U.S., China, and South Korea. Notable venues include the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Barbican in London with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Ms. Cann regularly performs duo recitals with her sister, pianist Kimberly Cann; together their “sheer verve and evident passion is something to behold” (Mountain Xpress).
Ms. Cann has appeared as cohost and collaborative pianist with NPR’s From The Top, collaborating with actor/conductor Damon Gupton, violinist Leila Josefowicz, and violinist and MacArthur Fellow Vijay Gupta. She has also been featured on WRTI-FM and WHYY-TV in Philadelphia. Her summer festival appearances have included the Taos Chamber Music Festival, Yellow Barn, Perlman Music Program, Music Academy of the West, Geneva Music Festival, and Pianofest in the Hamptons, where she serves as artist in residence.
Ms. Cann has won top prizes in state, national, and international competitions including the International Russian Music Piano Competition, the Blount Slawson Young Artists Competition, and the Wideman International Piano Competition. In 2019 she served as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s MAC Music Innovator in recognition of her role as an African-American classical musician who embodies artistry, innovation, and a commitment to education and community engagement.
Ms. Cann manifests this commitment through her activities in Philadelphia and as part of touring engagements around the globe. She has served as the director of two children’s choruses in the El Sistema-inspired program Play On Philly and was among the first class of ArtistYear fellows at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she worked with community partners City Year, Teach for America, and AmeriCorps to provide arts education and access to underserved communities in Philadelphia. In 2019 she served on the faculty of the Sphinx Performance Academy during its inaugural year at the Juilliard School.
Ms. Cann holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Paul Schenly and Dr. Daniel Shapiro, and an Artist’s Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Robert McDonald.
Ms. Cann served as a collaborative staff pianist at the Curtis Institute of Music for several years. She joined the faculty in 2020 as the inaugural Eleanor Sokoloff Chair in Piano Studies.