Catalyst Quartet
Anthony McGillClarinet

Catalyst Quartet with Anthony McGill
Karla Donehew Perez, violin Abi Fayette, violin Paul Laraia, viola Karlos Rodriguez, cello

Thursday, November 11, 2021 | 7:30pm

Herbst TheatreVenue InformationSan Francisco


About This Performance

“Classical music is for everyone—or at least it should be. That’s the message the Catalyst Quartet is bringing” (Houston Chronicle). As its name makes clear, the Catalyst Quartet creates musical chemistry that brings about something precious and memorable. Principal Clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic, Anthony McGill is one of the most versatile and sought-after soloists and collaborators on any instrument. “That the ovation was so enthusiastic was no surprise” (New York Times).


COLERIDGE-TAYLOR PERKINSON: String Quartet No. 1, “Calvary”
FLORENCE PRICE: Five Folksongs in Counterpoint
SAMUEL COLERIDGE TAYLOR: Clarinet Quintet in F-sharp minor

Post-Performance Q & A

Post-Performance Q & A hosted by Dashon Burton, bass-baritone

Artist Information

Performer Biographies

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.

Clarinetist Anthony McGill is one of classical music’s most recognizable and brilliantly multifaceted figures. He serves as the principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic—that orchestra’s first African-American principal player—and maintains a dynamic international solo and chamber music career. Hailed for his “trademark brilliance, penetrating sound and rich character” (The New York Times), as well as for his “exquisite combination of technical refinement and expressive radiance” (The Baltimore Sun), McGill also serves as an ardent advocate for helping music education reach underserved communities and for addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music. He was honored to take part in the inauguration of President Barack Obama, premiering a piece written for the occasion by John Williams and performing alongside violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and pianist Gabriela Montero.

Hailed for his “trademark brilliance, penetrating sound and rich character” (New York Times), clarinetist Anthony McGill enjoys a dynamic international solo and chamber music career and is principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic—the first African American principal player in the organization’s history. He is the recipient of the 2020 Avery Fisher Prize, one of classical music’s most significant awards. McGill appears as a soloist with top orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Kansas City Symphony. As a chamber musician, McGill is a collaborator of the Brentano, Daedalus, Guarneri, JACK, Miró, Pacifica, Shanghai, Takács, and Tokyo Quartets, as well as Emanuel Ax, Inon Barnatan, Gloria Chien, Yefim Bronfman, Gil Shaham, Midori, Mitsuko Uchida, and Lang Lang. He performed alongside Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, and Gabriela Montero at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, premiering a piece by John Williams. He serves on the faculty of The Juilliard School and Curtis Institute of Music. He is the Artistic Director for the Music Advancement Program at The Juilliard School. In 2020, McGill’s #TakeTwoKnees campaign protesting the death of George Floyd and historic racial injustice went viral.

Artist Videos

Catalyst Quartet Plays George Walker’s Lyric for Strings

Anthony McGill at Mostly Mozart Across the Boroughs