The Contrasts Quartet is a group of four women virtuosi whose instruments include clarinet, violin, cello and piano. The quartet was originally formed with the name "Eberli Ensemble" in 1990 in New York City. The ensemble decided to change its name in 2001 to "Contrasts Quartet" to better describe the contrasting timbres of their instruments as well as the variety of their repertoire.
Although the group has always performed standard traditional works - duos, trios and quartets of Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Stravinsky, Hindemith and Messaien - the ensemble has premiered and worked with many contemporary composers, including Aaron Jay Kernis, Ned Rorem, Michael Torke, Scott Johnson, Lisa Bielawa, Jing Jing Luo and Derek Bermel. The ensemble has released two CDs on the Phoenix label: premiere recordings of the music of Aaron Jay Kernis as well as the music of Ned Rorem. Their recording of Rorem's Nine Episodes for Four Players (commissioned by Contrasts) was nominated for a 2006 Grammy Award.
Contrasts has advocated the works of young composers in many readings, workshops and performance premieres. Such projects have taken place directly with composers and also in residencies and collaborations with organizations such as The American composers Forum, The Atlantic center for the Arts, and Norfolk Summer Music Festival. The group initiated and organized commissioning consortiums with other ensembles across the country for composers such as Ned Rorem and Derek Bermel. Contrast has also premiered and performed the works of Aaron Jay Kernis extensively. They have often traveled and participated in residencies with Mr. Kernis for organizations such as Detroit Pro Musica/Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Bowdoin College, Phillips Exeter Academy and California State/Sacramento. Other Contemporary festivals include the MATA Festival, Wall to Wall Stravinsky at Symphony Space, the Danish Music Festival, Composers Concordance and the Mostly Women Composers Festival in New York City.
The Contrasts quartet has enjoyed giving talks to children as well as adults as an integral part of their concerts and residencies. These residencies have included a collaboration with the Fitchburg Public School, Fitchburg Library and Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts. For this residency, the Contrasts Quartet won a Chamber Music America grant to give lecture-recitals to sixth graders as well as to adults, culminating in a performance at the College. Similar residencies have been given at Penn State/Erie and Music in the Parks Series in Minnesota.
The Quartet has been invited to perform in Europe and across the United States. Concert appearances have included performances at Carnegie's Weill Hall, Merkin Hall and live appearances on New York's WNYC Radio and the nationally syndicated St. Paul Sunday radio program. Their concert tours have taken them from San Francisco to Spain. The Ensemble has been honored with awards and grants from the American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer, the Fromm Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music and Chamber Music America.