Catalyst Quartet

Catalyst Quartet

PIVOT Festival

Karla Donehew Perez, violin Abi Fayette, violin Paul Laraia, viola Karlos Rodriguez, cello     Anne-Marie McDermott, guest piano

Tuesday, February 21, 2023 |  7:30pm

Herbst TheatreVenue Information


About This Performance

Join us for season two of the Catalyst Quartet’s Uncovered series with guest artists bringing to broader recognition the music of historic composers whose works have rarely been heard. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Joshua Kosman put it best when he wrote, “You and I could go to chamber concerts for years and never hear a program as full of surprises and discovery as this one. And we’ve been missing out.”


JOSEPH BOLOGNE, CHEVALIER DE ST. GEORGES: String Quartet No. 1 in B-Flat Major and String Quartet No. 2 in G Minor from Six Concertante Quartets
REBECCA CLARKE: Dumka for Violin, Viola, and Piano
AMY BEACH: Piano Quintet in F-Sharp Minor, Op. 67

PIVOT Preludes

Enhance your concert experience with PIVOT Preludes, pre-concert programs in which pianist Sarah Cahill and other Bay Area artists will take a deeper dive into the works of a composer featured in that evening’s performance. Each Prelude begins at 6:30pm. Admission is included with your PIVOT Festival ticket purchase.

Performance Sponsors

The PIVOT Festival is sponsored by:

Artist Information

Performer Biography

Hailed by The New York Times at its Carnegie Hall debut as “invariably energetic and finely burnished… playing with earthy vigor,” the Grammy Award-winning Catalyst Quartet was founded by the Sphinx Organization in 2010. The ensemble (Karla Donehew Perez, violin; Abi Fayette, violin; Paul Laraia, viola; and Karlos Rodriguez, cello) believes in the unity that can be achieved through music and imagine their programs and projects with this in mind, redefining and reimagining the classical music experience.

Catalyst Quartet has 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 served as principal players and featured ensemble with the Sphinx Virtuosi on six national tours. They have been invited to perform by prominent music festivals ranging from Mainly Mozart in San Diego, to the Sitka Music Festival and Juneau Jazz and Classics in Alaska, and the Grand Canyon Music Festival, where they appear annually. Catalyst Quartet was ensemble-in-residence at the Vail Dance Festival in 2016. In 2014, they opened the Festival del Sole in Napa, California performing with Joshua Bell, and as part of the Aldeburgh Music Foundation String Quartet Residency gave two performances in the Jubilee Hall in Aldeburgh, UK.

International engagements have brought them to Russia, South Korea, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, along with regular concert tours throughout the United States and Canada. Residents of New York City, the ensemble has performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where they were named Quartet in Residence for the MetLiveArts 2022-23 Season, City Center, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, The New School (for Schneider Concerts), and Lincoln Center. They played six concerts with jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant for Jazz at Lincoln Center. The subsequent recording won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album.

Recent programs and collaborations have included Encuentros, with cellist Gabriel Cabezas; (im)igration, with the Imani Winds; and CQ Minute, 11 miniature string quartets commissioned for the quartet’s 10th anniversary, including works by Billy Childs, Paquito D’Rivera, Jessie Montgomery, Kevin Puts, Caroline Shaw, and Joan Tower. UNCOVERED, a multi-CD project for Azica Records celebrates important works by composers sidelined because of their race or gender. Volume 1 with clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Stewart Goodyear, includes music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Volume 2 with pianist Michelle Cann features music of Florence Price; it was nominated for “Recording of the Year 2022” by Limelight Magazine, Australia. Volume 3 will be released in 2023. Uncovered is also the focus of live concerts performed throughout the US including a four-concert Uncovered series with San Francisco Performances in 2021–22 and an upcoming Uncovered festival there in 2023.

Catalyst Quartet’s other recordings span the ensemble’s scope of interests and artistry. The Bach/Gould Project pairs the Quartet’s arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations with Glenn Gould’s String Quartet Op. 1. Strum is the debut album of composer Jessie Montgomery, former Catalyst Quartet violinist. Bandoneon y Cuerdas features tango-inspired music for string quartet and bandoneon by JP Jofre, and Dreams and Daggers is their Grammy®-winning album with Cécile McLorin Salvant.

Catalyst Quartet combines a serious commitment to diversity and education with a passion for contemporary works. The ensemble serves as principal faculty at the Sphinx Performance Academy at the Juilliard School, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Curtis Institute of Music. Catalyst Quartet’s ongoing residencies include interactive performance presentations and workshops with Native American student composers at the Grand Canyon Music Festival and the Sphinx Organization’s Overture program, which delivers access to music education in Detroit and Flint, Michigan. Past residencies have included concerts and master classes at the University of Michigan, University of Washington, Rice University, Houston’s Society for the Performing Arts, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, The Virginia Arts Festival. Pennsylvania State University, the In Harmony Project in England, University of South Africa, and Teatro De Bellas Artes in Cali, Colombia. The ensemble’s residency in Havana, Cuba for the Cuban American Youth Orchestra in January 2019, was the first by an American string quartet since the revolution.

Catalyst Quartet members hold degrees from The Cleveland Institute of Music, The Juilliard School, The Curtis Institute of Music, and New England Conservatory. Catalyst Quartet is a Sphinx ensemble and proudly endorses Pirastro strings.

Pianist Anne-Marie McDermott has played concertos, recitals and chamber music in hundreds of cities throughout the world. In addition to performing, she also serves as Artistic Director of the Bravo! Vail Music and Ocean Reef Music Festivals, as well as Curator for Chamber Music for the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego.

The breadth of Ms. McDermott’s repertoire reaches from Bach, Haydn and Beethoven to Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev and Scriabin, to works by today’s most influential composers. She has performed with many leading orchestras and is a longtime member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center with whom she performs and tours extensively each season.

In recent years, Ms. McDermott premiered and recorded a new concerto by Poul Ruders with the Vancouver Symphony, alongside Rachmaninov’s Paganini Variations, and returned to play Gershwin with the New York Philharmonic at the Bravo! Vail Festival. She has also performed the Mozart Concerto, K. 595 with the Philadelphia Orchestra led by Sir Donald Runnicles, the Bach D minor concerto with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto with Le Train Bleu. Other highlights include touring with violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the New Century Chamber Orchestra; the complete Beethoven piano trios with Ida Kavafian and Peter Wiley; and the complete Beethoven cello sonatas with Lynn Harrell. Recent international highlights include a performance of Schumann’s piano concerto with the Sao Paulo Symphony at the Cartagena Festival and an all-Haydn recital tour of China. Ms. McDermott gave performances of works by Charles Wuorinen in New York and Washington, D.C., in celebration of the composer’s seventy-fifth birthday. His last piano sonata was written for her and premiered at New York’s Town Hall.

Ms. McDermott studied at the Manhattan School of Music and has received the Mortimer Levitt Career Development Award for Women and an Avery Fisher Career Grant.

Artist Video

Catalyst Quartet plays George Walker’s Lyric for Strings Catalyst Quartet