Desirée Ruhstrat, violin; Aurélien Fort Pederzoli, viola; David Cunliffe, cello; Sam Shuhan, bass and Marta Aznavoorian, piano

Schubert’s Trout Quintet

  • Franz Schubert (1797-1828) - String Quintet in C Major, D. 956, Trout (1828) (50')
  • I. Allegro ma non troppo
  • II. Adagio
  • III. Scherzo. Presto - Trio. Andante sostenuto
  • IV. Allegretto - Più allegro

The Black Oak Ensemble’s latest CD release, “Avant l’orage,” a double album of French string trios, reached #1 in the Billboard Classical Charts in July 2022 and was featured as Album of the week on Symphony Hall Sirius XM and in November nominated for a 2023 ICMA International Chamber Music Award. Since then it has been lauded in the U.S. and International press, including Canada, Finland, The Netherlands and Germany. Fanfare Magazine said, “the players fully inhabit the spirit of whatever work they are playing at the moment, performing each one with as ardent a flame as if they had written it themselves.”

Praised for its “insightful, committed and masterful performances” (Classics Today 10/10) and “fierce eloquence” (London Times), the Black Oak Ensemble is one of the most innovative and exciting chamber ensembles on the international stage.

Black Oak’s debut album, “Silenced Voices” (Cedille Records), is dedicated to Jewish composers, most of whom lost their lives during the Holocaust. It has been featured in Gramophone and Strings magazines and on BBC Radio 3, The Violin Channel and Sirius XM.

The ensemble has collaborated with renowned artists such as guitarists Mak Grgic, Goran Ivanovic, Denis Azabagic and José Ferreira, harpsichordist Jory Vinikour, members of Eighth Blackbird, and flutist Eugenia Molinar. As passionate advocates of new works, they have commissioned and premiered string trios from renowned composers such as Michael Nyman, David Ludwig, Mischa Zupko, and Conrad Tao and discovered works by Dick Kattenburg, Geza Fríd, Gustave Samazeuilh, Henri Tomasi and Robert Casadesus.

Recent international tours have taken the Black Oak Ensemble to Amsterdam, Geneva (a special performance dedicated to human rights), the Everlasting Hope Festival in Terezin, (in honor of composers persecuted and murdered by the Nazis during the occupation of Prague), Paris, Grenoble, Lyon, Rennes, Corsica, Prague, and Athens. In the summer of 2022, the ensemble collaborated with violinist Rachel Kolly and cellist Nadege Rochat for sold out performances at the Schubertiade in Fribourg, Switzerland.

In the U.S. they have appeared at the Newport Music Festival, Music at the Morgan, Ravinia
Festival, New York University, Chicago Cultural Center, Art Institute of Chicago, Latino Music
Festival (Chicago), University of Oregon and many other venues. Passionate advocates of new works, the ensemble has commissioned and premiered string trios from renowned composers such as Michael Nyman, Conrad Tao, and David Ludwig.

As dedicated educators, their students and ensembles have been prize winners of national and international competitions and have held residencies at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, St. John’s School for the Arts (USVI) and Arizona State University. They are proud to collaborate with ‘In Crescendo’ based in Colombia, South America, Evanston Young Artists, Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative and the RAVINIA Festival’s El Sistema program.

The Black Oak Ensemble consists of violinist Desirée Ruhstrat and cellist David Cunliffe, members of the GRAMMY-nominated Lincoln Trio, and violist Aurélien Fort Pederzoli, a founding member of the ground-breaking, GRAMMY-nominated Spektral Quartet. They are currently ensemble-in-residence at New Music School in Chicago.

Samuel Shuhan joined the Lyric Opera Orchestra in 2020 from California. He was Associate Principal Bass of the LA Opera Orchestra and continues to maintain his position as Principal Bass in the Santa Barbara Symphony. In 2019, while serving as a guest substitute in the Helsinki Philharmonic bass section, he was fortunate enough to win the audition for Solo Principal Bass of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet, but chose to return to Los Angeles. He has also performed with the San Diego Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, and the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra. An enthusiastic lover of chamber music, Shuhan has been privileged to perform chamber works with principal members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Ballet, Helsinki Philharmonic, and Finnish National Opera and Ballet.

Shuhan has a passion for many styles of music and plays electric bass in addition to upright bass. In Los Angeles, he was introduced to life as a studio musician and can be heard playing on a number of movies and recordings. During this time, he also honed his skills as a composer and producer while collaborating with local and international artists across a range of genres. 

A native of Ithaca, NY, Shuhan holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Ithaca College where he studied with Dr. Nicholas Walker and received a Master’s Degree from the University of Southern California under the tutelage of David Allen Moore. He has also been heavily influenced by Paul Ellison, Rex Surany, and Shawn Conley.

A Pianist of exceptionally finished technique and purity of musical Impulse” (Boston Globe) Armenian/American Pianist, Marta Aznavoorian is known for her inspiringly spirited playing and vast emotional reach. The multi Grammy nominated artist has performed to critical acclaim throughout the world as orchestral soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. She made her professional debut at the age of 13 performing Mozart Piano Concerto No 24, K 491 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the invitation of Sir George Solti. She then went on to engage with orchestras throughout the United States and abroad including Sydney Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Chicago Symphony and many others including an engagement with the New World Symphony as a result of an invitation from Michael Tilson Thomas who was also the conductor. 

About the Rush Hour Concerts

Rush Hour Concerts are made possible through the generosity of the Zell Family Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council Agency and contributions from individual donors.

Upcoming Performances

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