The Catalyst Quartet was hailed by the New York Times at their Carnegie Hall debut as “invariably energetic and finely burnished…playing with earthy vigor.” Prize-winners of the Gianni Bergamo Classical Music Award 2012, the string quartet is comprised of alumni and top Laureates of the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Competition for young Black and Latino string players. Inspired by music’s ability to transform, Catalyst Quartet seeks to change the way classical music is perceived through programming for a wide range of audiences, advancing diversity in classical music and inspiring new and young audiences with dynamic performances of cutting-edge repertoire from a wide range of composers, with a special emphasis on African-American and Latino work. The Catalyst Quartet combines a serious commitment to diversity and education with a passion for performing accessible contemporary works.
Founded by the Sphinx Organization, the Catalyst Quartet debuted in 2010 at Carnegie Hall with the Sphinx Virtuosi string orchestra, and returned in 2011 to perform with Guarneri Quartet members Michael Tree and Peter Wiley. As the featured ensemble and principal players of the orchestra’s annual national tour, Catalyst Quartet made its Kennedy Center debut in 2012. The recently completed October/November 2013 tour included concerts in Washington DC (Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), New York City (Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium, with members of the legendary Guarneri Quartet), Chicago (Harris Theater), Miami (Frank Gehry designed New World Center), throughout the Midwest and the South, and a performance with the Houston Symphony. Featured in the celebrations opening the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech, Catalyst Quartet’s school matinee sold-out the hall’s 1,000-seat capacity. They can also be heard this season on the Cafe Series at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Bach Project - Collectively inspired by Glenn Gould’s 1955 recording of the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), the Catalyst Quartet decided to explore and highlight their own relationship to J.S. Bach, the relationship of J.S. Bach to Glenn Gould, and Glenn Gould’s relationship to the string quartet. Through a collaborative arranging process, the members will create the first fully realized 4-voiced version of the work for string quartet. Selected for the Aldeburgh (England) Music Centre’s String Quartet In Residence program from January 20-31, 2014, the Catalyst Quartet worked with cellist Pieter Wispelwey on the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), giving the first full performance of the work at the Jubilee Hall. The Catalyst Quartet’s debut album, "The Bach/Gould Project", featuring the complete Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) paired with Glenn Gould’s singular composition, String Quartet, was released in Fall 2014 on the Azica Records Label. They are also featured on the album STRUM, the string works of quartet violinist Jessie Montgomery (available fall 2015).
Now based in New York City, the Catalyst Quartet maintains an active concert career of its own domestically and abroad. During 2012 the Catalyst Quartet performed on concert series at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, the Society for the Performing Arts in Houston, California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Mainly Mozart in San Diego, and in a residency with the quartet Ethel at the Grand Canyon Music Festival. The 2012-2013 season brought quartet tours in Virginia, Hawaii, California and Minnesota, and New York City performances on the cafe series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The current season (2013-2014) opens with a performance on the Pop-Up Series at Columbia University’s Miller Theater, a spring tour in Mexico and California, and concerts in Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Washington DC.
The Catalyst Quartet has held residencies and given master-classes both in America and abroad, including the University of Washington, University of Michigan, College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, and Pennsylvania State University. They have held international residencies with London’s In Harmony Project, the University of South Africa, and the Teatro de Bellas Artes in Cali, Colombia. The Quartet has been guest artists at Festival del Sole, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Sitka Music Festival, Juneau Jazz and Classics, the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, Juilliard String Quartet Seminar, Strings Music Festival, and the Grand Canyon Music Festival. In 2012 Catalyst Quartet performed at Weill Recital Hall as part of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ Young Performers Career Advancement program, participated in the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar, and won second prize for the Gianni Bergamo Classic Music Award in Switzerland. In 2013 the ensemble was one of six invited participants in the 2nd Annual Robert Mann String Quartet Institute where they worked with Mr. Mann and members of the American and Tokyo String Quartets, and performed at the Manhattan School of Music.
Principal faculty at the Sphinx Performance Academy at Oberlin College and Roosevelt Institute at Northwestern University, Catalyst Quartet members are visiting teaching artists at the Sphinx Preparatory Music Institute hosted by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra made possible in part through the generous support of Stuart and Maxine Frankel.. The ensemble has been featured in The Strad and Strings magazines. They have also appeared on multiple radio and television broadcasts such as American Public Media (APM)’s Performance Today, Chicago (WFMT), Houston Public Radio (KUHF), Seattle (KING FM), Vermont Public Radio, Detroit Public Television. Catalyst Quartet proudly endorses Pirastro strings:.