Takács Quartet to Present Baltimore Premiere By Nokuthula Ngwenyama At Shriver Hall

The group will present a program inspired by the natural world.

By: Oct. 02, 2023
Takács Quartet to Present Baltimore Premiere By Nokuthula Ngwenyama At Shriver Hall

Shriver Hall Concert Series (SHCS) — Baltimore's premier presenter of chamber music ensembles and solo recitalists — will welcome the Grammy-winning Takács Quartet as it returns to Shriver Hall on Click Here. The group will present a program inspired by the natural world.

Featured on the program is the Baltimore premiere of a new work by Nokuthula Ngwenyama, entitled flow (a SHCS co-commission). Ngwenyama is an American composer of Zimbabwean-Japanese heritage, whose spacious soundscapes combine neoromantic harmonies and sonorities with a rhythmically charged minimalism. Her rapidly growing catalog consists almost entirely of string-based chamber and orchestral works, with a notable exception being her recent choral work Finding the Dream, whose title alludes to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

About flow, Nokuthula Ngwenyama shares, “When Harumi Rhodes of the celebrated Takács Quartet asked me about writing a piece for the group I was surprised, greatly honored, and fearful. The string quartet is considered a “perfect” ensemble. It inspires delicacy, sensitivity and adventure. The core range is smaller than that of the piano, yet its timbre allows for beauteous interplay. Harumi asked that the quartet be about anything in the natural world, an idea requested by lead commissioner Cal Performances. Fortunately, patterns in music and science pair well, so that brought relief.

"I researched a wide array of subjects for over a year. Topics included the life cycle, carbon reclamation, environmental protection, animal communication, starling murmurations, our last universal common ancestor (LUCA), black hole collisions, and the subatomic realm. I listened to the recordings of the Takács Quartet with gusto. Systems layered upon other systems revealed a common flow to existence tying us to the initial outburst of energy and matter at the birth of our universe.”

Takács Quartet second violinist Harumi Rhodes remarks, “Any commission is an opportunity to embrace a new voice. There's a continuity in engaging with contemporary composers, but of course a brand new piece is also a departure, inspiring us in exhilarating new directions. We approached Thula to write a piece for us because of our admiration for her as a virtuosic violist and performer who understands the dramatic and sonorous possibilities of a string quartet. Flow combines Thula's passion for science, mathematics, and theology. Her delight and wonder in the natural world is infectious: we are excited to bring this vibrant new work to life.”

Nokuthula Ngwenyama's piece is bookended by Joseph Haydn's “Sunrise” Quartet and Ludwig van Beethoven's Op. 59, No. 2 Quartet, conceived as the composer gazed at the stars while contemplating the harmony of the spheres.

Shriver Hall Concert Series opens its 2023-24 season with a performance by British-Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt on Sunday, October 15, 2023 at 5:30pm. The award-winning musician returns to Shriver Hall to perform Bach's famed Goldberg Variations. The season then continues after Takács Quartet's concert with the U.S. debut of Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective on Sunday, December 3, 2023 at 5:30pm in works by Amy Beach, Florence Price, Franz Schubert, and George Walker.

SHCS also kicks off its 2023-24 free Discovery Series with a recital by pianist Yilun Xu, winner of the 2023 Yale Gordon Competition, on Saturday, November 4, 2023 at 3:00pm at the Baltimore Museum of Art in works by Mozart, Janáček, Liszt, and Mussorgsky.

Concert Information

Takács Quartet
Sunday, November 19, 2023 at 5:30pm
Shriver Hall | 3400 N. Charles Street | Baltimore, MD 21218
Tickets: $276 Subscription; $46 Single Ticket; $10 Students
Link: https://www.shriverconcerts.org/takacs

Joseph Haydn: String Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 76, No. 4, “Sunrise”
NOKUTHULA NGWENYAMA: flow (Baltimore Premiere, SHCS co-commission)*
Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet in E minor, Op. 59, No. 2, “Razumovsky”

The Howard Family Concert │The David & Barbara Rodbell Kornblatt Commissioning Fund

*flow is co-commissioned by Shriver Hall Concert Series, Cal Performances, University Musical Society, 92nd Street Y, Friends of Chamber Music, BroadStage, Celebrity Series of Boston, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and Capital Region Classical, Inc.

About Shriver Hall Concert Series
For almost 60 years, Shriver Hall Concert Series (SHCS) has been “Baltimore's finest importer of classical music talent” (The Baltimore Sun) and the area's premier presenter of chamber music ensembles and solo recitalists with a mission to craft performances and educational programs at the highest level of excellence. A 5-time recipient of Baltimore Magazine's distinction “Best Classical Music” in its annual “Best of Baltimore” issue, the coveted subscription series features many of the world's most renowned soloists and ensembles, presented in The Johns Hopkins University's Shriver Hall.

Founded in 1966 by Dr. Ernest Bueding, a pharmacologist at The Johns Hopkins University, and a group of similarly dedicated music enthusiasts, SHCS set out to make an important contribution to the vitality of an already vibrant city. When flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal walked onto the stage of Shriver Hall for the first concert, more than 1,100 people witnessed the launch of what is now recognized as a remarkable success story: Shriver Hall Concert Series. In the succeeding years SHCS has presented hundreds of acclaimed and emerging International Artists in classical chamber music and recitals and a legacy of important debuts and premieres. In addition, SHCS collaborates with local schools and subsidizes hundreds of student tickets each season.

The list of artists presented by SHCS is remarkable—Radu Lupu, Murray Perahia, Ewa Podlés, Maurizio Pollini, Jacqueline du Pré, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jordi Savall, András Schiff, Rudolf Serkin, Janos Starker, Daniil Trifonov, Lynn Harrell, Emmanuel Ax, Alban Berg Quartet, Guarneri Quartet, Kronos Quartet, Cleveland Quartet, and Quartetto Italiano, among many others. SHCS also has a history of championing important musicians early in their careers, including Richard Goode, Hilary Hahn, Hélène Grimaud, Dawn Upshaw, Lang Lang, and the Emerson String Quartet. Commissioned composers include Timo Andres, Sebastian Currier, James Lee III, Han Lash, Caroline Shaw, Carlos Simon, and Nina C. Young.

Designed specifically for the community, SHCS offers the Discovery Series, a series of free concerts presented in venues throughout the region focused on artists emerging on the national and international scene. Artists featured include Narek Hakhnazaryan, Colin Currie, Xavier Foley, Eric Lu, and the Dover Quartet. SHCS also offers the annual Spring Lecture Series, a series of free talks focused on annual topics related to the intersection of music and society, and a variety of student programs.

For more information, visit www.shriverconcerts.org.

About Takács Quartet 
The world-renowned Takács Quartet (Edward Dusinberre and Harumi Rhodes, violins, Richard O'Neill, viola, and András Fejér, cello) is in its 49th season, which features varied projects including a new work written for them by Nokuthula Ngwenyama. September saw the release of a new recording of works by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Antonín Dvořák, while later in the season the Quartet releases works by Franz Schubert, including his final quartet, in G major. In the spring of 2024, the ensemble performs and records piano quintets by Florence B. Price and Dvořák with long-time collaborator Marc-André Hamelin.

As Associate Artists at London's Wigmore Hall the Quartet performs a series of four concerts. The ensemble also appears at other prestigious European venues in cities including Berlin, Geneva, Linz, Innsbruck, Cambridge, and St. Andrews. In New Zealand, it appears at the Adams Chamber Music Festival. The group's North American engagements include concerts in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Vancouver, Ann Arbor, Phoenix, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Portland, Cleveland, Santa Fe, and Stanford. The ensemble performs Bartók cycles at San Jose State University and Middlebury College and appears for the first time at the Virginia Arts Festival with pianist Olga Kern.

The members of the Takács Quartet are Christoffersen Fellows and Artists in Residence at the University of Colorado, Boulder. For the 2023-24 season, the Quartet partners with El Sistema Colorado, working closely with its chamber music education program in Denver. During the summer the Takács run an intensive quartet seminar at the Music Academy of the West. In 2021, the Takács Quartet won a Presto Music Recording of the Year Award for its recordings of string quartets by Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, and a Gramophone Award with pianist Garrick Ohlsson for piano quintets by Amy Beach and Edward Elgar. For its extensive discography, the Quartet has won three Gramophone Awards, a Grammy Award, three Japanese Record Academy Awards, Disc of the Year at the inaugural BBC Music Magazine Awards, and Ensemble Album of the Year at the Classical Brits.

The Takács Quartet is known for its innovative programming. In 2021-22, the ensemble partnered with bandoneon virtuoso Julien Labro to premiere new works by Clarice Assad and Bryce Dessner. The ensemble performed a program inspired by Philip Roth's novel Everyman with Philip Seymour Hoffman at Carnegie Hall in 2007, and again with Meryl Streep at Princeton and Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music in 2015. They have toured 14 cities with the poet Robert Pinsky and played regularly with the Hungarian folk group Muzsikás.

In 2014 the Takács became the first string quartet to be awarded the prestigious Wigmore Hall Medal. In 2012 Gramophone announced that the Takács was the first string quartet to be inducted into its Hall of Fame. The ensemble also received the 2011 Award for Chamber Music and Song presented by the Royal Philharmonic Society in London.

The Takács Quartet was formed in 1975 at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest by Gabor Takács-Nagy, Károly Schranz, Gábor Ormai, and András Fejér, while all four were students. The group received international attention in 1977 when it won First Prize and the Critics' Prize at the International String Quartet Competition in Evian, France. Following a slew of other competition victories, the Quartet made its North American debut tour in 1982. Members of the Takács Quartet are the grateful beneficiaries of an instrument loan by the Drake Foundation. The ensemble's website is takacsquartet.com.

Photo credit: Amanda Tipton

BroadwayWorld Awards Voting


Latest Standings Announced For The 2023 BroadwayWorld Baltimore Awards; ROMEO AND JULIET L Photo
Latest Standings Announced For The 2023 BroadwayWorld Baltimore Awards; ROMEO AND JULIET Leads Best Play!

Happy Holidays! The latest wave of standings have been announced as of Monday, November 27th for the 2023 BroadwayWorld Baltimore Awards! Don't miss out on making sure that your favorite theatres, stars, and shows get the recognition they deserve!

Student Blog: How I Balance School and Theater Photo
Student Blog: How I Balance School and Theater

My first quarter as a senior just came to an end and what a ride it was. While I am blessed to have a partial schedule, I am currently enrolled as an ECAP (Early College Access Program) student at Anne Arundel Community College, taking courses in Spanish and Political Science. Balancing both my high school classes and my college classes have been challenging.

TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS is Coming to Cumberland Theatre This Week Photo
'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS is Coming to Cumberland Theatre This Week

A holiday story for children and the young at heart comes to Cumberland Theatre in 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Latest Standings Announced For The 2023 BroadwayWorld Baltimore Awards; SHREK! THE MUSICAL Photo
Latest Standings Announced For The 2023 BroadwayWorld Baltimore Awards; SHREK! THE MUSICAL Leads Best Musical!

The latest wave of standings have been announced as of Monday, November 20th for the 2023 BroadwayWorld Baltimore Awards! Don't miss out on making sure that your favorite theatres, stars, and shows get the recognition they deserve!

More Hot Stories For You


Rockville Little Theatre presents “The Grapes of Wrath” in Baltimore Rockville Little Theatre presents “The Grapes of Wrath”
F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre (1/26-2/04)
Baltimore Theatre Project (12/15-12/17)
The Dinner Detective Comedy Mystery Dinner Show  in Baltimore The Dinner Detective Comedy Mystery Dinner Show
The Dinner Detective Baltimore (12/09-12/16)
Masterworks Chorale of Carroll County in Baltimore Masterworks Chorale of Carroll County
Baker Memorial Chapel (12/03-12/03)
A Christmas Carol in Baltimore A Christmas Carol
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (12/01-12/23)
Inebriated Holiday in Baltimore Inebriated Holiday
Maryland Ensemble Theatre (12/01-12/23)
Neverland, A New Musical in Baltimore Neverland, A New Musical
Children's Playhouse of Maryland (12/02-12/17)
A New Year's Day A New Year's Day "Bach" Celebration!
Zion Lutheran Church (1/01-1/01)
The Squirrels in Baltimore The Squirrels
Maryland Ensemble Theatre (3/29-4/28)
My Father the Elf in Baltimore My Father the Elf
Maryland Ensemble Theatre (11/25-12/17)

Recommended For You