The Black Oak Ensemble is acclaimed for its eclectic programming and virtuoso performances.  

The ensemble core is made up of GRAMMY nominated violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, violist Aurelien Pederzoli and cellist David Cunliffe.

The project-based Black Oak ensemble presents exciting programs from Bach to the music of today, and is a passionate advocate of undiscovered and new works. They have premiered commissions from renowned composers such as Michael Nyman, David Ludwig, Conrad Tao and many more.

The Black Oak Ensemble has performed throughout the US including appearances at the Ravinia Festival, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Latino Music Festival, Mayne Stage, WFMT Radio, the Grand Rapids Museum of Art and has held residencies at Eau Claire University, St.John's School for the Arts (USVI) and the New Music School Chicago.  

The 2018/19 season will feature a very special program for the Ensemble, ’Silenced Voices', a project to speak for those who were so brutally murdered during the Pogroms, the Exiles and the Shoah. 

This summer will see Black Oak touring 'Silenced Voices' throughout the US and France and will culminate in a recording of these works for Chicago based Cedille Records.

As dedicated educators, the members of the ensemble have recently put down roots in the south of France, creating 'Musique Dans Le Gers', a music festival in the southwest of France, which gives them the opportunity to work with young musicians and share their gift of music with the community. 

The ensemble was named for the black oak, a beautiful tree native to their home state of Illinois (one stands in the front yard of Desirée Ruhstrat and David Cunliffe).