The Ulysses Quartet

Listen Closely wraps up its fourth season of Inwood concerts on June 3-4 with an exciting weekend with our good friends from Washington Heights, the Ulysses Quartet, made up of violinists Tina Bouey and Rhiannon Banerdt, violist Colin Brookes, and cellist Grace Ho. Founded in 2015, The Ulysses has been quite busy; in 2016, they took the Fischoff Competition by storm, bringing home the Grand Prize. Just last week, they won 2nd Prize in the prestigious Osaka Competition in Japan. The group is a fine representation of the rich concentration of talented, world-class musicians that make their homes in northern Manhattan, and we are thrilled to give their neighbors and local fans a chance to connect with them here in Inwood. 

Ulysses first appeared in concert with Listen Closely last season, joining Rose and me for a program of string sextets by Schoenberg (click here to watch and listen!) and Brahms, as well as a the Langsamer Satz for string quartet by Webern. We had wanted to do a sextets program since the project’s founding in 2013, and had finally found a group willing to dive in on this ambitious project with us. The rehearsal process with Ulysses represented the ideal preparation cycle we seek to achieve for Listen Closely projects; we were able to block enough time really dig deep on the pieces, and still have time left over to get to know each other better over coffee and hibiscus donuts (!!) from Taszo. 

The project was provided a unique experience in that Rose and I were joining a “real” string quartet, entering as guests into an intimate, familiar, and finely-tuned environment. We could not have felt more welcomed by the group, and it was fascinating to glimpse the inner workings of such a powerhouse ensemble. What I most appreciated about working with the Ulysses was the balance the group always struck between congenial levity and an uncompromising and unrelenting pursuit of perfection. Each member contributed unfiltered feedback as the spirit moved them to do so, and yet the group was never bogged down by the “too many cooks in the kitchen” syndrome that chamber music experiences can easily become. I was inspired to witness a group of four strong individuals with distinct tastes and preferences working so fluently together. Rather than developing an environment of conformity to the strongest personality, the group made room for everyone in the process. 

Coming up at the beginning of June, Listen Closely will present the Ulysses Quartet in three distinct neighborhood settings: the Inwood Greenmarket, Holy Trinity Church Inwood, and Dichter Pharmacy. The quartet will share the early Beethoven Quartet op. 18 no 5, the exciting Concertino by Igor Stravinsky, and String Quartet no. 10, op. 118 by Dmitri Shostakovich. 

The Greenmarket event, co-sponsored by the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance with generous support from the NYC Small Business Services Neighborhood 360 Grant, will feature two sets with excerpts from the above listed pieces. We hope our neighbors will enjoy being serenaded by a world-class string quartet as they drop off compost and browse the local farm stands! 

The weekend’s main event will be a full-length concert program in the beautiful and resonant sanctuary of Holy Trinity Church at 20 Cumming Street, just north of where Broadway and Dyckman intersect. Preferred seating comes with pre-ordered tickets, which can be picked up here. A complimentary reception of wine and cheese will follow the concert, tocelebrate the conclusion of our fourth season of concerts at Holy Trinity Church. 

The next day, the quartet will appear for an afternoon kid-friendly concert at Dichter Pharmacy and Soda Shoppe, our favorite Inwood storefront! This free event will give kids an opportunity to hear excerpts from the quartet’s program, ask questions, eat ice cream, and dance along to the music as inspiration strikes! 

See our events listings for more details on dates, times, tickets, and venue info for our upcoming weekend with Ulysses Quartet.  Hope to see you there!

- James

James Waldo