Praised for their “insightful, committed and masterful performances 10/10 ” ( Classics Today) and their “fierce eloquence” ( The Times, London), the Black Oak Ensemble is one of the most innovative and exciting chamber ensembles on the international stage. The Black Oak Ensemble comprises GRAMMY-nominated violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, cellist David Cunliffe of the acclaimed Lincoln Trio, and violist Aurélien Fort Pederzoli, a founding member of the groundbreaking GRAMMY-nominated Spektral Quartet.
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, was released on Cedille Records; it went on to be featured by Gramophone Magazine, Strings Magazine and BBC Radio 3 as well as being featured live from New York by 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.
Black Oak performs regularly in recitals and festivals throughout the world. Their recent tour of Europe included performances in Amsterdam, Athens, Grenoble, Lyon, Paris, Prague , Rennes and Yverdon. Other appearances include Ravinia Festival, the Chicago Cultural Center, Art Institute of Chicago, Latino Music Festival, Mayne Stage, WFMT, Grand Rapids Museum of Art, Communauté Juive de Nancy, Le Festival du film Juif de Paris, Everlasting Hope festival in Theresienstadt, L’Alhambra in Vittel, Centre VOCE on the island of Corsica and a special performance in Geneva, Switzerland on behalf of the Mission of Hungary to the UN, for the 30th Anniversary of the Commemoration of Human Rights Day.
Highlights of Black Oak Ensemble’s 21-22 season include their debut at the Newport Music Festival, University of Oregon's "Chamber Music @ Beall" series, a double CD release titled Avant l'orage (a collection of French String Trios from 1929-1939) and a recording collaboration as well as performances in Switzerland with violinist Rachel Kolly.
As passionate and dedicated educators, their students and ensembles have been prize winners of national and international competitions. Black Oak Ensemble has held residencies at The University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, St. John’s School for the Arts (USVI), Arizona State University, Ensemble-in-Residence at the New Music School in Chicago and collaborates with 'In Crescendo', Colombia, South America, Evanston Young Artists, Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative and the RAVINIA Festival's El Sistema program.
The ensemble is named for the black oak, a beautiful tree native to its home state of Illinois.