The Turtle Island Quartet, since its inception in 1985, has been a singular force in the creation of bold, new trends in chamber music for strings. Winner of the 2006 and 2008 Grammy Award for Best Classical Crossover Album, Turtle Island fuses the classical quartet esthetic with contemporary American musical styles, and by devising a performance practice that honors both, the state of the art has inevitably been redefined. Cellist nonpareil Yo-Yo Ma has proclaimed TIQ to be “a unified voice that truly breaks new ground – authentic and passionate – a reflection of some of the most creative music-making today.”
The Quartet’s birth was the result of violinist David Balakrishnan’s brainstorming explorations and compositional vision while completing his master’s degree program at Antioch University West. The journey has taken Turtle Island through forays into folk, bluegrass, swing, be-bop, funk, R&B, new age, rock, hip-hop, as well as music of Latin America and India…a repertoire consisting of hundreds of ingenious arrangements and originals. It has included over a dozen recordings on labels such as Windham Hill, Chandos, Koch and Telarc, soundtracks for major motion pictures, TV and radio credits such as the Today Show, All Things Considered, Prairie Home Companion, and Morning Edition, feature articles in People and Newsweek magazines, and collaborations with famed artists such as clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, guitar legends such as Leo Kottke and the Assad brothers, The Manhattan Transfer, pianists Billy Taylor, Kenny Barron, Cyrus Chestnut and Ramsey Lewis, singers Tierney Sutton and Nellie McKay, the Ying Quartet and the Parsons and Luna Negra Dance Companies.
Another unique element of Turtle Island is their revival of venerable improvisational and compositional chamber traditions that have not been explored by string players for nearly 200 years. At the time of Haydn’s apocryphal creation of the string quartet form, musicians were more akin to today’s saxophonists and keyboard masters of the jazz and pop world, i.e., improvisers, composers, and arrangers. Each Turtle Island member is accomplished in these areas of expertise as well as having extensive conservatory training.
As Turtle Island members continue to refine their skills through the development of repertory by some of today’s cutting edge composers, through performances and recordings with major symphonic ensembles, and through a determined educational commitment, members refine their skills through the development of repertory by some of today’s cutting edge composers, through performances and recordings with major symphonic ensembles, and through a determined educational commitment, the Turtle Island Quartet stakes its claim as the quintessential ‘New World’ string quartet of the 21st century. For a more detailed historical narrative, click here
homage to Charlie Parker
In this high flying program, the two-time GRAMMY® winning Turtle Island Quartet, pays homage to the incandescent visionary brilliance of jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker. The genius of his improvisations almost single handedly catapulted jazz from pop style into art music, indelibly altering the musical landscape of America.
Iconic Charlie Parker classics such as KoKo, A Night In Tunisia, and Dewey Square are juxtaposed with original responses by quartet members, and intertwined with other thematic pieces from the bebop era and beyond such as Sonny Rollins’ Airegin, Miles Ahead by Gil Evans/Miles Davis, and Subconscious-Lee by Lee Konitz. Grammy-nominated composer David Balakrishnan contributes his newly commissioned work, Aeroelasticity: Harmonies Of Impermanence.*
Turtle Island draws its primary focus and musical identity from the individual creative voices of the ensemble who are at home in folk, pop and jazz. It continues to recalibrate the foundational parameters of the traditional string quartet form, in a sense coming from the other direction.
*Aeroelasticity: Harmonies Of Impermanence is made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.
With special guest pianist Cyrus Chestnut
The instrumentation is recognizable to any aficionado of chamber music, that of the classic piano quintet. Renowned jazz master Cyrus Chestnut and the GRAMMY® winning Turtle Island Quartet continue their remarkable journey together as they traverse the myriad colors of jazz and beyond. The collaboration is infused with the global reach of gospel and sacred music- ranging from the Appalachian Mountains to the spiritually defined musical landscape of J.S. Bach. Dipping into the rhythms of world cultures, these five multi-stylistic singularly, gifted musicians come together to embrace the transcendental power of great music. A moving night of Ellington, Wayne Shorter, Bill Withers, Coltrane, and more.
visions of a frosty winter’s eve and year-end celebrations from around the globe
The two-time GRAMMY® winning Turtle Island Quartet parlays its own unique brand of jazz chamber brilliance to present a joyous concert of effervescent music making. The repertoire evokes visions of a frosty winter’s eve and year-end celebrations from around the globe. From ancient King Wren songs of the Celtic winter solstice and yuletide reels from Ireland, to Brazilian festive chorinho music, African Kora, tunes of Hannukah, slavic folk carols, a Hindu spiritual, and a Miles Davis holiday classic, Turtle Island delves into the timeless music that has been an integral part of wintertime festivities for centuries.
Turtle Island Plays The Music Of John Coltrane
Given the proper conditions, a work of art can transcend both genre and era, claiming its rightful place in the universality of human expression that justifies the very existence of mankind. Such is the case of John Coltrane’s jazz epiphany, A Love Supreme. Recorded four decades ago at a time when the country was deeply troubled by issues of race and war, Trane’s music was a personal statement of redemption and salvation that struck a chord in the hearts of millions, becoming one of the most enduring jazz recordings of all time.
The string quartet form itself continues to thrive in the 21st century in no small part due to its impressive history of similar achievements in its two hundred year old canon. In exploring John Coltrane’s musical legacy, TI continues its own tradition of employing the string quartet form to shed new light on the timeless joy and beauty contained in the greatest music of the American jazz masters. The concert program will present an in-depth look at this landmark recording in the greater context of the music that preceded and followed, a time many consider to be the last great evolutionary period of jazz.