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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.”


AMY BEACH: Piano Quintet

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.

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,” in 2020 the Grammy Award-winning Catalyst Quartet celebrated the 10th Anniversary of its founding by the Sphinx Competition. The ensemble 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 in New York City. 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 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 with Joshua Bell, and participated in England’s Aldeburgh Music Foundation String Quartet Residency with two performances in the Jubilee Hall.

Recent seasons have brought international engagements in Russia, South Korea, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Puerto Rico, along with regular tours throughout the United States. Residents of New York City, the ensemble has performed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 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. Catalyst Quartet launched its own New York series, CQ@Howl, in 2018.

Recent collaborations include Encuentros, a program with cellist Gabriel Cabezas with the premiere of a new work by Cuban composer Jorge Amado Molina; (im)igration, with the Imani Winds; and CQ Minute, 10 miniature string quartets commissioned for the quartet’s 10th anniversary, with works by Andy Akiho, Kishi Bashi, Billy Childs, Paquito D’Rivera, Tania Leon, Jessie Montgomery, Kevin Puts, Caroline Shaw, Joan Tower, and a to-be-named composer selected from a national call for scores, which premieres in 2022. UNCOVERED, a multi-CD series of recordings for Azica Records celebrating beautifully crafted works by composers overlooked and sidelined because of their race or gender. Volume 1, released to acclaim in February 2021 with clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Stewart Goodyear, includes the string quartet and quintets of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Volume 2, released in February 2022, features the music of Florence Price, and future releases will include the music of Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still and George Walker, among others. In October 2021 San Francisco Performances opened their season with the first of a four-concert Uncovered series.

Catalyst Quartet’s other recordings span the ensemble’s scope of interests and artistry. The Bach/Gould Project, features the Quartet’s arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations paired with Glenn Gould’s String Quartet Op. 1. Strum is the debut album of composer Jessie Montgomery, former Catalyst Quartet violinist. Bandaneon y cuerdas features tango-inspired music for string quartet and bandoneon by JP Jofre, and Dreams and Daggers is their Grammy©-winning album with Cecile 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 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 masterclasses 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, and Pennsylvania State University, the In Harmony Project in England, The University of South Africa, and The 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.

Artist Video

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