Something to Write Home About
The multi-Grammy-nominated Spektral Quartet returns to the Harris Theater, this time on the Virtual Stage, with one of its most interactive and inventive programs to date. From Chicago – Something to Write Home About invites concertgoers to join the creative process by writing five postcards across an evening of performances with stimulating visuals and provocative writing prompts from the quartet.
A celebration of Chicago’s world-class contemporary music scene, the program orbits five of the city’s most imaginative composers, with each piece vibrantly contextualized by Spektral through interviews, video, and nimble storytelling.
So, what’s on the menu? Former Chicago Symphony Orchestra composer-in-residence Samuel Adams is no stranger to the Harris audience and his hypnotic String Quartet No. 2: Current was born out of his friendship with the Quartet that developed during his tenure in Chicago. Eliza Brown’s mesmeric String Quartet No. 1 was one of the Quartet’s first commissions and remains an audience favorite to this day. Prospective Dwellers by Tomeka Reid – which received its world premiere at the 2016 Ear Taxi Festival – is a buoyant, groove-based number inspired by her interviews with residents of Chicago’s Dorchester Projects. Arnika, a reimagining of the Sufjan Stevens original by composer Gene Knific (which received its premiere on a Spektral show at Music Box Theatre just before quarantine) dips into indie-pop territory. And Nathalie Joachim’s stirring quintet, Lamize pa Dous from her Fanm d’Ayiti project – nominated along with Spektral for a Grammy – rounds out this enticing circuit of Chicago-based, sonic ingenuity.
For each number, Spektral draws the listener closer to the composer and their composition, using the music as the leaping-off point for audience members to pen a short message to someone special in their own life. Writing on custom-made postcards featuring the alluring work of Chicago visual artists, concertgoers become creators right alongside the Quartet…and reconnect with loved ones in unexpected ways.
Praised by The New Yorker as providing the “...signal service of obliterating the dividing line between past and present, tradition and avant-garde…” Spektral Quartet offers this interactive experience as not only a melding of the head and heart, but an opportunity to celebrate the creative spirit in us all.