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Portrait: Travel to the sound of Quatuor Diotima’s bows

©François Rousseau

In 2013, the University of Chicago launched a residency program named Don Michael Randel Ensemble-in-Residence, that hosts nationally and internationally renowned musical ensembles. For the 2021-2022 season, the University of Chicago has invited Quatuor Diotima to participate in this program, with the support of Jazz & New Music a program of the FACE Foundation and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S. After a residency at the Bouffes du Nord in Paris from 2012 to 2016, at the Scène Nationale d'Orléans and at Radio France since 2018, Quatuor Diotima - with Yun-Peng Zhao (violin), Constance Ronzatti (violin), Franck Chevalier (viola) and Pierre Morlet (cello) - will be received by the University of Chicago and will participate in workshops and discussions with composition students while giving public performances.

A musical and temporal dialogue: from the great classics to contemporary masterpieces

After playing a piece by Alain Bancquart in Darmstadt, four laureates of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris continued the adventure of the string quartet by creating Quatuor Diotima in 1996. The name of this ensemble reveals its musical ambition: "making previous pieces meet those of the composers with whom we are working with", as the cellist Pierre Morlet so aptly said. Indeed, the name Diotima is not a random choice and reminds us of the heroine of Hyperion by Hölderlin (German romantic poet and philosopher) as well as the work Fragmente-Stille, an Diotima by Luigi Nono (Italian contemporary music composer). This choice to work with a broad musical palette that ranges from avant-garde Romanticism to contemporary works by composers such as Miroslav Srnka, Gérard Pesson, Toshio Hosokawa, Alberto Posadas, Mauro Lanza, Tristan Murail and Rebecca Saunders among others, creates a direct diologue between music history and present-day innovations. "We always try to insert creation into music history, because the history of creation is a continuous history. Its strength is the same in the time of Beethoven, Berg or Lachenmann," explains violist Franck Chevalier.

Discover Miroslav Srnka: Chamber Music album with Quatuor Diotima 

This perspective on music history particularly delights spectators who discover the influence of great composers of the past on today's artists through Quatuor Diotima's work. The texture of melodies, the play of strings, and the overlap of instruments arouse enthusiasm and, above all, curiosity. Each season Quatuor Diotima uses the influence its music has on the audience to reveal essential pieces such as those by Schubert, Enesco, Janáček, Beethoven and Bartók while offering at the same time album-portraits of current composers. 

Quatuor Diotima: what awaits us these coming months

What were Beethoven's sixteen quartets in the 19th century? What were Bartók's six quartets in the 20th century? Music celebrated for its avant-gardism, and its unique language of communication. Quatuor Diotima has given us a personal interpretation of these masterpieces, revealing an autobiographical part of these great composers and a part of European music history through various performances, such as at the Festival de l’Orangerie in Sceaux, the George Enescu Festival in Bucharest, the Beethoven Fest in Bonn, the Festival Música in Motril, the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, the Auditorium of Radio-France in Paris, the Onassis Cultural Center in Athens, the Zaryadyehall in Moscow, the Scène Nationale d'Orléans and, soon, at the University of Chicago.

With this residency program, Quatuor Diotima will also showcase exceptional women composers of today with Brains by Misato Mochizuki, Unbreathed by Rebecca Saunders and String Quartet No. 2 by Ursula Mamlok. Emotional pieces full of audacity, passion, and poetry, to be listened to without moderation.

While continuing to perform the scores of these virtuous artists, Quatuor Diotima also has begun to unveil new projects this season (2020/2021) by working on the repertoire of Ravel, Chausson, and Brahms and soon, presenting the world premiere of Code is poetry by Luis Codera Puzo, New piece by Mauricio Sotelo, String Quintet with Marc Coppey by Enno Poppe, New piece for string quartet by Alberto Posadas, String Quartet n°7 by Bruno Mantovani and more on the European scene. What great news to punctuate our agendas!

Click here to learn more about Quatuor Diotima.

This residency of Quatuor Diotima has been made possible through the Jazz & New Music, a program of FACE Foundation and Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States with support from the Florence Gould Foundation, the French Ministry of Culture, Institut français-Paris, Bureau Export and Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs de Musique (SACEM).