Antares has “the gift of making whatever they’re playing seem the most important piece in the world,” declared Gramophone magazine in its rave review of the group’s debut CD Eclipse on the Innova label. Named after the brightest star in the Scorpius constellation, and one of the most luminous stars in the nighttime sky, Antares identifies its artistic mission with Scorpius’ essence of change, rebirth, and bringing new life to old forms. Comprised of four virtuoso instrumentalists, Antares draws from a vast and colorful repertoire for clarinet, violin, cello and piano, as well as all their various trio and duo combinations. This versatility allows them to create programs which present the chamber masterworks of the Classical and Romantic eras alongside some of the most evocative and exciting music from the 20th and 21st centuries. Hailed by The Chicago Tribune as “powerful,” “striking” and “razor-sharp,” Antares’ high-energy performance style and remarkable ensemble dynamic led to the quartet’s selection as First Prize winner of the 2002 Concert Artists Guild International Competition.
The ensemble’s unique instrumentation was popularized by the visionary French composer Olivier Messiaen in one of the greatest and most influential works in the chamber music repertoire, Quatuor Pour La Fin du Temps. Having performed and explored the many aspects of this masterpiece for nearly a decade, Antares is considered to be one of its foremost advocates. In 2004, in partnership with the University of Iowa, they received a CMA Residency grant to present a four-day interdepartmental series focused on the Quartet, culminating with a critically acclaimed performance at Hancher Auditorium. Antares looks forward to bringing this extraordinary work to an ever-widening audience in 2008, in celebration of Messiaen’s centennial anniversary.
Further concert engagements for the group include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Kennedy Center, Chamber Music Cincinnati, Merkin Concert Hall, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Music in New York City, the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois, the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild (NC) and Panama’s Asociación Nacional de Conciertos. The ensemble’s distinctive sound was featured in a program on Minnesota Public Radio’s ever-popular series Saint Paul Sunday which, after several nationwide broadcasts, is now available in their online archives.
Having completed two-year residencies at both Columbia and Wesleyan universities, Antares is widely admired and sought after for ensemble coachings, lectures, master classes and readings of student compositions. The ensemble was invited to do a presentation on educational outreach by the Eastman School of Music, as part of their renowned chamber music program. Passionately dedicated to bringing music to the community outside the concert hall, the four young musicians consider music education in the classroom (K through 12), and interactive concerts/lectures for general audiences, to be vital and indispensable aspects of their vocation. Antares has completed further educational residencies at the Aspen School of Music, University of California, San Diego, Market Square Concerts (PA) and the La Jolla Music Society’s Discovery Series, where the quartet’s performance was described by The San Diego Reader as “exciting, expressive, nuanced and captivating.”
Antares’ numerous festival appearances include the Bayview Music Festival (MI), the Huntington Summer Arts series (NY), the Chautauqua Institution, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, the Norfolk Contemporary Music Seminar and Chamber Music Festival, and a three-part series at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, New Haven (CT). Antares was twice Ensemble-in-Residence at the Festival Eleazar de Carvalho in Fortaleza, Brazil, and has performed at the Tuckamore Festival in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Having won two ASCAP/CMA Awards for Adventurous Programming (’99, ’04), a recent New York Times review perfectly described Antares’ approach to the music they perform: “The four musicians play with superb technical polish and, equally important, a sense that they not only are comfortable with this music but also understand its vocabulary and syntax.” This sentiment was seconded in August 2005 when Antares’ appearance on New York’s River to River Festival was featured in Time Out New York as follows: “a small ensemble that affords color, flexibility and heft in one tidy package… including an invaluable dedication to living composers that has garnered well-deserved acclaim.”
In their continuing quest for expanding the ensemble’s repertoire, Antares has commissioned and premiered a substantial number of works by highly regarded composers, such as Ezra Laderman, Stefan Freund, Kevin Puts, members of the Minimum Security Composers Collective, John Mackey (with the Parsons Dance Company at The Joyce in New York), Oliver Schneller (through a Meet the Composer grant), Dan Visconti (through a grant from BMI) and Carter Pann, whose work Antares was commissioned by CAG. In addition to its 2005 release Eclipse, featuring six captivating new works, Antares has also recorded Ned Rorem’s, The End of Summer, on the Newport Classics label and Fred Lerdahl’s, Marches, which was released in 2006 by Bridge Records.