Cal String Quartet Diana Tash Photo
Lao Tizer Quartet Photo
gnarwhallacourting at the branson
October 04, 2014

gnarwhallaby makes its Music @ Boston Court debut with an evening exploring the "micro-orchestra" quartet's signature sound of the heterophonic avant-garde.  The program features the premiere of a new work by Colin Wambsgans, and includes quartets by Nicholas Deyoe and Andrew McIntosh to round out the Los Angeles contingent.  The works of Czech composer, wild-child Martin Smolka and Polish classical rock star Henryk Górecki complete the program that highlights the last half-century of this fascinating instrumentation's existence in the experimental chamber music underground.

gnarwhallaby is: Matt Barbier, trombones // Brian Walsh, clarinets and saxophones // Derek Stein, violoncello // Richard Valitutto, piano and melodica


The Los Angeles-based quartet gnarwhallaby has established an important reputation as one of the foremost contemporary ensembles in Southern California. In their 2013 Carnegie Hall debut they were described as “startlingly versatile” (Steve Smith, NY Times). Their debut album [exhibit a], released in April 2014 on Populist Records, has garnered critical acclaim with praises such as “gnarwhallaby delivers remarkable precision, energy and passion along with a studied and controlled sensitivity to the music of American and European contemporary composers... a monument to tight ensemble” (Sequenza 21) and “satisfyingly musical, intelligently presented, ear twistingly enterprising” (Soundproof Room).

gnarwhallaby was formed in 2011 to revive and perform the repertoire composed for the unique instrumentation of clarinet, trombone, violoncello, and piano. As their starting point, the quartet used the missions and repertoires of the now defunct, avant-garde Polish ensemble Warsztat Muzyczny as well as the later German outfit Quartett Avance. As the third generation "grandchild" quartet – the first in the United States and the only currently active quartet of its kind in the world – they have been heard at such contemporary music and art festivals as the UC-Santa Cruz “April in Santa Cruz,” the Getty Research Institute’s “Pacific Standard Time Festival,” and MicroFest. gnarwhallaby continues to expand this largely unknown and fascinating body of repertoire with commissions and original compositions by its members.

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