Music of Now

ensembleNewSRQ Comes Back, Live

The chamber music ensemble plans a return to presenting new works, in person.

By Kay Kipling September 15, 2021

ensembleNewSRQ's artistic directors and performers, George Nickson and Samantha Bennett.

Among the many performing arts groups planning a return to a live season in the next few weeks: ensembleNewSRQ (enSRQ), the innovative chamber music ensemble headed by violinist Samantha Bennett and percussionist George Nickson, the group’s founders and co-artistic directors.

After a season of virtual offerings, enSRQ plans to kick off its “Season Six” with a world premiere of Max Grafe’s Shadow Theatre, the Florida premiere of Chris Cerrone’s Don’t Look Down and Yaz Lancaster’s Sequoia, at 8 p.m. Oct. 11 at the First Congregational Church on Euclid Avenue. The church will be the venue for the first four of five concerts now scheduled. (They will also be livestreamed.)

Presenting such musical premieres is a trademark of the ensemble, which is dedicated to presenting bold works by contemporary composers. But Nickson says offering premieres of four new compositions is a first even for them. He adds that enSRQ will also be exploring the possibilities of multimedia artistry; Lancaster, for example, is not only a composer and violinist but a transdisciplinary artist who brings poetry, collage and multimedia into the mix. In addition to the concerts mentioned here, Nickson says other events and series (including an evening of new opera and book readings with Matt Aucoin) will be revealed later in the year.

Coming up after the Oct. 11 opening performance will be Void, a co-commission with Atlanta-based ensemble vim. Elizabeth A. Baker’s evening-length work combines visual projection, electronic processing and acoustic performance. That’s set for Jan. 31.

enSRQ’s second commission of the season is a team effort with Boston’s Chroma Trio, which shares founding member Bennett. Bringing to life a new work by Tyson Gholston Davis, String Trio, the evening also presents a duo from Andreia Pinto Correia, Du Yun’s string quartet, I Am My Own Achilles Heel and Freya Waley-Cohen’s trio, Conjure. On Feb. 21.

Vortex Temporum, up next, continues the ensemble’s journey into the world of French spectral composition with Gerard Grisey’s Vortex Temporum, featuring Van Cliburn semifinalist, pianist Han Chen. That performance also features a work by Philippe Hurel and a return of Nina C. Young’s A bout de souffle for solo piano. On March 28.

Featuring the season’s final co-commission, WAVES, by Sebastian Currier (a Hermitage Artist Retreat fellow) is based on the novel The Waves by Virginia Woolf, and is set for soprano, small ensemble and electronics. It reflects the thoughts of different women and girls, ultimately representing just one woman’s life taking place over a single day. Paired with Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Entropic Arrows and Lancaster’s firn, WAVES will unfold April 18 at a location to be determined.

Tickets are $25 for in-person single tickets; $10 for single concert streaming access; $115 for a membership that includes both. For more ticket info, check


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