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Wed 5/10, 2023, 7:30pm
Town Hall Seattle and Seattle Chamber Music Society present
James Ehnes, Efe Baltacıgil, and Isidore Quartet
Music from Haydn, Childs, and Tchaikovsky

A special Town Music event with Seattle Chamber Music Society.

James Ehnes and Efe Baltacıgil join the Isidore Quartet — winners of the 2022 Banff International String Quartet Competition — for a thrilling performance.


Franz Joseph Haydn – String Quartet in C Major, Op. 20 No. 2
The Isidore Quartet

Billy Childs – String Quartet No. 2, Awakening
The Isidore Quartet

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Souvenir de Florence, Op.70
The Isidore Quartet with James Ehnes and Efe Baltacıgil

Phoenix Avalon & Adrian Steele, violins; Devin Moore & James Ehnes, violas; Joshua McClendon & Efe Baltacıgil, celli


James Ehnes is recognized as one of the world’s foremost violinists and is a favorite guest of many of the world’s most celebrated orchestras and concert halls. Recent orchestral highlights include the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, London Symphony, Gedwandhausorchester Leipzig, New York Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Chicago Symphony, Orchestre National de France, Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, and Hong Kong Philharmonic. Alongside his concerto work, Ehnes maintains a busy recital schedule and performs regularly at Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, Symphony Center Chicago, and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. In 2010, he established the Ehnes Quartet, with whom he has performed throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.

Ehnes has an extensive discography of over 40 CDs and has won many awards for his recordings, including a Gramophone Award, two GRAMMY Awards, and 11 JUNO awards. He began violin studies at the age of four, made his orchestral debut with l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal at age 13, and graduated from The Juilliard School in 1997, winning the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Member of the Order of Canada, and has received honorary degrees from Brandon University and the University of British Columbia. James Ehnes plays the “Marsick” Stradivarius of 1715.

Efe Baltacıgil, Principal Cello of the Seattle Symphony since the fall of 2011, was previously Associate Principal Cello of The Philadelphia Orchestra since 2003. Recent highlights include his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle, performing Bottesini’s Duo Concertante alongside his brother Fora; performances of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with the Bilkent Symphony and the Seattle Symphony; and Brahms’ Double Concerto with violinist Juliette Kang and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra.

Baltacıgil performed a Brahms Sextet with Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zukerman, and Jessica Thompson at Carnegie Hall, and has participated in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project. He has also performed the Schumann Cello Concerto with the Curtis Chamber Orchestra, has toured with the group Musicians from Marlboro, and is a member of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society II.

Named String Player of the Year in Turkey in 2013, Baltacıgil has also received the Peter Jay Sharp Prize, the Washington Performing Arts Society Prize, and first prizes in concerto competitions in Istanbul and New York, as well as in the Allentown (Pennsylvania) Schadt String Competition. He was the winner of the 2005 Young Concert Artists International Auditions and received an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2006.

Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Baltacıgil started studying the violin at age 5 and changed to the cello at age 7. He received his bachelor’s degree from Mimar Sinan University Conservatory in Istanbul in 1998 and an artist diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 2002, where he studied with Peter Wiley and David Soyer. He was a recipient of the Curtis Institute’s Jacqueline du Pré Scholarship.

Isidore Quartet, winners of the 14th Banff International String Quartet Competition in 2022, was formed in New York City in 2019 with a vision to revisit, rediscover, and reinvigorate the repertory. The quartet is heavily influenced by the Juilliard String Quartet and the idea of “approaching the established as if it were new, and the new as if it were firmly established.”

The members of the quartet are violinists Adrian Steele and Phoenix Avalon, violist Devin Moore, and cellist Joshua McClendon. The four began as an ensemble at the Juilliard School, and following a break during the global pandemic reconvened at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival in the summer of 2021 under the tutelage of Joel Krosnick. In addition to Mr. Krosnick, the ISQ has coached with Joseph Lin, Astrid Schween, Laurie Smukler, Joseph Kalichstein, Roger Tapping, Timothy Eddy, Donald Weilerstein, Atar Arad, Bob McDonald, Christoph Richter, Miriam Fried, and Paul Biss, while performing in venues such as Alice Tully Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Ravinia Festival.

Their Banff triumph brings extensive tours of North America and Europe, a two-year appointment as the Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, performances at Haydn Hall in Eisenstadt and the Lucerne Festival, plus a two-week residency at Banff Centre including a professionally produced recording, along with extensive ongoing coaching, career guidance, and mentorship.

The Isidore Quartet’s 2022-2023 season will feature debut appearances in Pittsburgh, PA; Durham, NC; Burlington, VT; Kalamazoo, MI; Evanston, IL; San Antonio, TX; Laguna Beach, CA (with pianist Jeremy Denk and violinist Stefan Jackiw); and Seattle, WA (with violinist James Ehnes). The quartet will return to Washington’s Kennedy Center as part of the Fortas Chamber Music Concert Series, and will also perform for Schneider Concerts at the Mannes School of Music.  In Europe, they will perform at Esterhazy Palace in Austria and will spend time at the Britten Pears Arts Institute.

The quartet will be working as a resident ensemble with PROJECT: MUSIC HEALS US providing encouragement, education, and healing to marginalized communities — including elderly, disabled, rehabilitating incarcerated, and homeless populations — who otherwise have limited access to high-quality live music performance. An ensemble actively dedicated to pushing the boundaries of music-making, the ISQ is the resident ensemble for the Contemporary Alexander School/Alexander Alliance International. In conjunction with those well-versed in the world of Alexander Technique, as well as other performers, the ISQ explores the vast landscape of body awareness, mental preparation, and performance practice.

The name Isidore recognizes the ensemble’s musical connection to the Juilliard Quartet: one of that group’s early members was legendary violinist Isidore Cohen. Additionally, it acknowledges a shared affection for a certain libation — legend has it a Greek monk named Isidore concocted the first genuine vodka recipe for the Grand Duchy of Moscow!

Presented by Town Hall Seattle and the Seattle Chamber Music Society.

This performance introduces a Pay-What-You-Can ticketing model, meaning you decide what amount you’d like to pay for a ticket. Suggested ticket price is $35. 

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