Praised by the Chicago Tribune for its "flamboyant vitality" and "expert performances," the Black Oak Ensemble is establishing itself as a one of the premier chamber ensembles in the United States. At its core is a string trio comprising violinist Desirée Ruhstrat and cellist David Cunliffe (members of the Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio) and violist Aurélien Fort Pederzoli.
The Black Oak Ensemble has performed throughout the United States and Europe, including appearances at the Ravinia Festival, Chicago Cultural Center, Art Institute of Chicago, Latino Music Festival, Mayne Stage, WFMT, Grand Rapids Museum of Art, Communauté Juive de Nancy, and Le Festival du film Juif de Paris, and has held residencies at Eau Claire University, St. John's School for the Arts (USVI), Arizona State University, and Safford Arizona. The Black Oak Ensemble currently serves as Ensemble-in-Residence at the New Music School in Chicago.
The project-based Black Oak Ensemble is a passionate advocate of undiscovered and new works. It has commissioned and premiered new string trios from renowned composers such as Michael Nyman, David Ludwig, and Conrad Tao; and has collaborated with musicians such as bandoneon player, Evan Orman, guitarists Goran Ivanovic and Jose Ferreira, harpsichordist Jory Vinikour, and the Cavatina Duo.
The ensemble will perform its Silenced Voices program throughout Europe, including appearances in Athens, Geneva, Grenoble, Lyon, Paris, Prague, Vittel, and Yverdon, and give a special performance at the Everlasting Hope International Music Festival in Terezin in August 2019.
Dedicated educators, the members of the ensemble have put down roots in the south of France, creating Musique Dans Le Gers, a music festival that provides an opportunity to work with young artists and share their experiences and music with the community.
The ensemble is named for the black oak, a beautiful tree native to its home state of Illinois (one stands in the front yard of Desirée Ruhstrat and David Cunliffe).
Black Oak Ensemble, a violin, viola, and cello trio comprising three of Chicago's most enterprising chamber musicians, makes its recording debut with Silenced Voices, an album of intriguing works by six promising, early 20th century Jewish composers originally from Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the Netherlands.
One survived World War II as a member of the Dutch resistance, the others perished in concentration camps and elsewhere in Nazi-occupied Europe. Silenced Voices, available July 12, 2019, includes Dick Kattenburg's Trio à cordes; Sándor Kuti's Serenade for String Trio; Hans Krása's Passacaglia & Fuga and Tánec for string trio; Gideon Klein's Trio for violin, viola and cello; Paul Hermann's Strijktrio; and the world-premiere recording of wartime survivor Géza Frid's Trio à cordes, Op. 1 (Cedille Records CDR 900000 189).