The twice-Grammy nominated Spektral Quartet actively pursues a vivid conversation between exhilarating works of the traditional repertoire and those written this decade, this year, or this week. Since its inception in 2010, Spektral is known for creating seamless connections across centuries, drawing in the listener with charismatic deliveries, interactive concert formats, an up-close atmosphere, and bold, inquisitive programming.
With a tour schedule including some of the country’s most notable concert venues such as the Kennedy Center, Miller Theater, Library of Congress, and NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, the quartet also takes great pride in its home city of Chicago: championing the work of local composers, bridging social and aesthetic partitions, and cultivating its ongoing residency at the University of Chicago.
Named “Chicagoans of the Year” by the Chicago Tribune in 2017, Spektral Quartet is most highly regarded for its creative and stylistic versatility: presenting seasons in which, for instance, a thematic program circling Beethoven seamlessly coexists with an improvised sonic meditation at sunrise, a talent show featuring Spektral fans, and the co-release of a jazz album traversing the folk traditions of Puerto Rico.
Clara Lyon is an accomplished performer who cultivates musical experiences that delight, embolden, and challenge by incorporating a diverse and active repertoire. A graduate of the Juilliard School, SUNY Stony Brook, and Ensemble Connect, she has performed as a soloist and chamber musician across the world, and nationally at such venues as the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, and Carnegie Hall. Ms. Lyon is a prize-winner of the International Irving M. Klein Competition, the Schadt International Violin Competition, the National Foundation for the Arts Awards for young musicians, and the Prix de Musique de Chambre of the Conservatoire Américain de Fontainebleau. Notable collaborations include performances with Soovin Kim, Laurie Smukler, Colin Carr, Lucy Shelton, members of the Emerson Quartet, Argento Ensemble, Metropolis Ensemble, Decoda, and the Momenta Quartet.
Ms. Lyon is currently a violinist with the two-time GRAMMY-nominated Spektral Quartet, where she also serves as Director of programming. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Recording Academy, Chicago Chapter, and has served as the Co-Director of Kneisel Hall-Blue Hill Together in Music, a biannual immersive community music program facilitated by the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, since its inception in 2014.
Tomoko Hemmi (born in Sapporo, Japan) studied piano at the State University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart with Fernande Kaeser and André Marchand. She performs regularly at the most important festivals for New Music, such as the Darmstadt Summer Courses, and the festivals in Akiyoshidai and Donaueschingen. In addition to her work as a soloist and chamber musician, Hemmi has worked closely with many contemporary composers. She performed the solo piano part in the Stuttgart production of Helmut Lachenmann’s opera “Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern”. Her extensive recording catalog includes the CDs “Conquest of Melody” and “Counterpoise”.
Yukiko Sugawara was born in Sapporo, Japan where she first studied piano with Michiko Endo. She continued her studies with Aiko Iguchi at the Toho Music College (Tokyo) and with Hans Erich Riebensahm (Berlin). In Cologne she was awarded a diploma as a concert pianist studying with Aloys Kontarsky. Yukiko Sugawara has won numerous international prizes, including the Kranichstein Music Award. She performs at renowned European festivals, such as the Donaueschinger Tage für Neue Musik, ECLAT Festival Stuttgart, Mouvement – Musik im 20. Jahrhundert, Saarbrücken, Holland Festival, Berliner Festwochen, Biennale Berlin, Festival d'Automne Paris, Warsaw Autumn Festival, Huddersfield Music Festival, Archipel Genf, Ars Musica Brusseln, AVANTI!-Festival Porvoo, Finland, Music Factory Bergen, Norway, as well as in Chicago, New York, Tokyo, Kyoto, and the Akiyoshidai Musical Days.
As a soloist she has performed with the conductors Pierre Boulez, Sylvain Cambreling, Peter Eötvös, Peter Hirsch, Peter Rundel, Lothar Zagrosek, and Hans Zender among others. In the field of chamber music, she has played in various groups, for example in a duo with the violinist Tomoko Kiba, in a piano-duo with Tomoko Hemmi, and with the soprano Yuko Kakuta.
As a lecturer, Yukiko Sugawara has led many courses and workshops. Numerous recordings testify to her active work as a chamber musician and as a soloist. Her interpretation of Helmut Lachenmann's “Serynade” received the German Record Critics' Award.
Hans Thomalla, born in Bonn, Germany, is a German-American composer. He has written chamber music as well as orchestral works and a particular focus of his activity lies in composing for the stage. He has written three operas: “Fremd” (Stuttgart Opera), "Kaspar Hauser" (Freiburg Opera), and “Dark Spring” (Mannheim Opera). Thomalla is Professor of Music Composition at Northwestern University, where he founded and directs the Institute for New Music. He has taught at numerous summer programs, including June in Buffalo and the Darmstadt Summer Courses. He studied at the Frankfurt Musikhochschule and received his doctoral degree in composition from Stanford University. Thomalla has been awarded numerous awards and fellowships, including the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis, the Composer Prize of the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. During the academic year 2014/15 he was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.As a fictional character Hans Thomalla appears in Alexander Kluge’s collection of short stories „Wer ein Wort des Trostes spricht, ist ein Verräter. 48 Geschichten für Fritz Bauer“.