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The Black Oak Ensemble’s latest CD release, “Avant l’orage,” a double album of French string trios, reached #1 in the Billboard Classical Charts in July 2022 and was featured as Album of the week on Symphony Hall Sirius XM and in November nominated for a 2023 ICMA International Chamber Music  Award. Since then it has been lauded in the U.S. and International

press, including Canada, Finland, The Netherlands and Germany.

Fanfare Magazine said, “the players fully inhabit the spirit of whatever work they are playing at themoment, performing each one with as ardent a flame as if they had written it themselves.”

Praised for its “insightful, committed and masterful performances” (Classics Today 10/10) and “fierce eloquence” (London Times), the Black Oak Ensemble is one of the most innovative and exciting chamber ensembles on the international stage.

Black Oak’s debut album, "Silenced Voices" (Cedille Records),  is dedicated

to Jewish composers, most of whom lost their lives during the Holocaust.

It has been featured in Gramophone and Strings magazines and on BBC

Radio 3, The Violin Channel and Sirius XM.

The ensemble has collaborated with renowned artists such as guitarists Mak Grgic, Goran Ivanovic, Denis Azabagic and José Ferreira, harpsichordist Jory Vinikour, members of Eighth Blackbird, and flutist Eugenia Molinar. As passionate advocates of new works, they have commissioned and premiered string trios from renowned composers such as Michael Nyman, David Ludwig, Mischa Zupko, and Conrad Tao and discovered works by Dick Kattenburg, Geza Fríd, Gustave Samazeuilh, Henri Tomasi and Robert Casadesus. 


Recent international tours have taken the Black Oak Ensemble to Amsterdam, Geneva (a special performance dedicated to human rights), the Everlasting Hope Festival in Terezin, (in honor of composers persecuted and murdered by the Nazis during the occupation of Prague), Paris, Grenoble, Lyon, Rennes, Corsica, Prague, and Athens. In the summer of 2022, the ensemble collaborated with violinist Rachel Kolly and cellist Nadege Rochat for sold out performances at the Schubertiade in Fribourg, Switzerland.


In the U.S. they have appeared at the Newport Music Festival, Music at the Morgan, Ravinia

Festival, New York University, Chicago Cultural Center, Art Institute of Chicago, Latino Music

Festival (Chicago), University of Oregon and many other venues. Passionate advocates of new works, the ensemble has commissioned and premiered string trios from renowned composers such as Michael Nyman, Conrad Tao, and David Ludwig.


As dedicated educators, their students and ensembles have been prize winners of national and international competitions and have held residencies at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, St. John’s School for the Arts (USVI) and  Arizona State University. They are proud to collaborate with 'In Crescendo' based in Colombia, South America, Evanston Young Artists, Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative and the RAVINIA Festival's El Sistema program.

The Black Oak Ensemble consists of violinist Desirée Ruhstrat and cellist David Cunliffe, members of the GRAMMY-nominated Lincoln Trio, and violist Aurélien Fort Pederzoli, a founding member of the ground-breaking, GRAMMY-nominated Spektral Quartet.

They are currently ensemble-in-residence at New Music School in Chicago.

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