Praised by the Chicago Tribune for its "flamboyant vitality" and "expert performances,” the Black Oak Ensemble is establishing itself as one of the premier chamber ensembles in the United States.
The Black Oak Ensemble comprises GRAMMY - nominated violinist Desirée Ruhstrat and cellist David Cunliffe of the acclaimed Lincoln Trio and violist Aurélien Fort Pederzoli, a founding member of the ground-breaking Grammy-nominated Spektral Quartet.
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, New Music Ensemble and Safford Arizona.
The project-based Black Oak Ensemble presents exciting programs from Bach to the music of today and has collaborated with musicians such as bandoneon player, Evan Orman, guitarists Goran Ivanovic and Jose Ferreira, harpsichordist Jory Vinikour, members of Eighth BlackBird and the Cavatina Duo.
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.
This season, the ensemble’s debut album, SILENCED VOICES―a deeply personal program dedicated to mid-20th Century Jewish composers, most of whom lost their lives during the Holocaust―will be released on Cedille Records. 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 Black Oak Ensemble currently serves as Ensemble-in-Residence at the New Music School in Chicago.
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’s house)