A Double Quartet plus One Review- Quarteto Q'Arte, The Avalon Quartet and Jeremy Attanaseo perform at Fullerton Hall, the Art Institute of Chicago

On November 13, 2016, the 11th Chicago Latino Music Festival continued with a performance by Cuarteto Q’Arte joined by The Avalon Quartet with Jeremy Attanaseo on the contrabass for a final nonet. The lovely and inspiring concert took place in the  Fullerton Hall at The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan.

Quarteto Q'Arte; photo courtesy of the Chicago Latino Music Festival


 Since it’s creation in 2008, Cuarteto Q-Arte has been characterized by its strong interest of the knowledge and diffusion of Latin-American music written for string quartet. Its attention focuses particularly on works by Colombian contemporary composers and the exploration of new sonorities and scenic profiles. Q-Arte is integrated by professors tied to the most recognized universities in the music field studies in Colombia. In this way, the quartet has been able to combine its performance labor with constant research, a work that is fed simultaneously by teaching and working with new generations of professional musicians The principals are Juan Carlos Higuita Estrada, violin; Liz Angela Garcia Castro, violin; Sandra Liliana Arango, viola; and Diego Garcia, cello.


The Avalon String Quartet has performed in major venues throughout the world, including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the 92nd St Y, Merkin Hall, and Bargemusic in New York; the Library of Congress and National Gallery of Art in Washington DC; Wigmore Hall in London; and Herculessaal in Munich. The quartet performs an annual concert series in historic Fullerton Hall at the Art Institute of Chicago, where it has presented the complete quartet cycles of Beethoven, Bartok, and Brahms in recent seasons. The Avalon is quartet-in- residence at the Northern Illinois University School of Music. The principals are Blaise Magniere, violin; Marie Wang, violin; Anthony Devroye, viola; and Cheng-Hou Lee, cello.

Avalon Quartet; photo courtesy of Ear Taxi Festival


Jeremy Attanaseo is associate principal Bass of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. He is also an alternate for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and is the former principal of the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra.He is the adjunct Bass Faculty at Bradley University, Harper College and the DePaul University community music program. He is also principal bass of Camerata Chicago and New Millenium Orchestra and maintains numerous private teaching studios. He has said “Chamber music to me is an intimate, yet intense relaying of emotion from the musicians to the audience. It is a dialogue that anyone from any background can see and feel”.


 Gustavo Leone, Managing Director of the Chicago Latino Music Festival introduced the concert. Also present was Festival Artistic Director, Elbio Barilari. This concert portion was part of a special international exchange with Bogota’, Columbia.



 “Cuarteto No.4 Musica de Feria”, 1932, by Silvestre Revuelto

  “Fair Music” is “without question” Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltos' most often performed and recorded work. Composed in a single movement, the piece features “the simultaneous presentation of independent melodic lines in each part but within a single rhythmic pattern”. Some authors see the piece as falling into four main sections which corresponded in form to the structure of a traditional four-movement string quartet. At nine minutes, the piece sounded to my ears as though it wer made up of 3 contrasting secions, with the opening returning at the end and a slower center becoming quick and even quicker- it’s an engaging multi-layered work.

Audience enjoying previous Chicago Latino Music Festival Concert; photo courtesy of Chicago Latino Music Festival


“Mictlan” from “Altar de Muertos” 1997, by Gabriela Ortiz

This is a piece inspired by the “Day of The Dead” festivities in Mexico. There is “an internal search between the real and the magic”, which is said to always exist in Mexican culture. This section is described by the composer as similar to the concept of death- “life is extended toward death and vice versa”. This eternal struggle, similar to that of day and night, is reflected in “obsessive ritual music”. The segment seemed to be in continuous movement, the end bonded to the semi-atonal beginning. The Quartet wore anklets with noise-makers on them, and stamped their feat in time to their playing- most effective!

  “Suite Colombiana”, by Gentil Montana, (date of composition unknown)

The composer was a classical guitarist from Columbia, the director of a foundation that bears his name. His aim, following years of violence and disorder in his country, was to “exchange arms of destruction for musical instruments and develop a true tradition of the guitar in Columbia”. The brief piece,atonally rich and sprightly, caused the performers to pluck at their strings and whistle. It was modern, fresh and sexy.

 “Cuarteto de Cuerdas no. 6, Op. 250, (2016), by Blas Atehortua

This was a world premiere- the Colombian composer known for his exciting film scores was present for the performance. The preamble was extremely intense, the interlude fine and many-hued, ranging from sober to dramatic, the last portion dynamic and lustrous.

 “String Quartet no. 4 (2016) by Gustavo Leone

This reviewer had previously heard the Leone piece performed by the Avalon Quartet as a U.S. premiere at the Ear Taxi Festival on October 7, at The Harris Theater, 205 S. Randolph. I found the piece- which Professor Leone wrote especially for these two quartets- even more compelling the second time around. It is a deeply stirring work in a somber but not overly dark mood with aspects of tension as well as lyrical excitement. Composed in a single movement, it transposes a theme with repetitive notes with a driving violin melody; the sense of the whole is forceful and modern.

Professor Gustavo Leone; photo courtesy of Christopher Peppey

“Last Round”, for nonet, 1996, by Osvaldo Golijov, a tribute to the great tango composer Astor Piazzolla

The second movement of “Last Round” was sketched out by Golijov in 1991, when he heard of Piazzolla’s stroke; the great tango composer fought for his life, yet left the world in 1992, “in the words of a great tango, without saying goodbye”. Golijov’s notes reflect that on the day of his death, “The musical face of Buenos Airs was abruptly frozen”. He describes how the creation of that face had begun “100 years earlier” from a combination of African drums, gaucho’s couplets, Sicilian canzonettas, Andalucian guitar, and how they all “converged towards the bandoneon”, which Piazzolla played to perfection. The “Last Round”, stunningly beautiful and thrilling, with an underlying sadness and howling grief, was conceived as an idealized bandoneon, with the first movement “a violent compression of the instrument” and the second, "a final, seemingly endless opening sigh”. It was performed by the two quartets standing and facing each other, with the focal bass separating them. The music was absolutely breathtaking, as the two quartets faced off with passion, fire and ultimately resolved into a clean and absolute pattern.

Artistic Director Elbio Barilari; photo courtesy of The Chicago Sinfonietta


The next concert in the 11th Chicago Latino Music Festival will be Guitarist Adam Levin on Sunday, November 29 at 2:00 in Fullerton Hall at The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan

Tickets are free with with admission

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