This fall marks the beginning of a new quartet, four musicians curious about old traditions and new approaches-- fiddler/ composer Cleek Schrey, celebrated viol player Liam Byrne, and forward-thinking folk duo Anna & Elizabeth. The four gather for a residency at the Garth Newell Center in Virginia, to explore their common threads -- excavating the intimate subtle worlds of traditional Virginia ballads, fiddle and banjo music from Kentucky, early American hymnody, and the viola da gamba music of 17th century composer Marin Marais, and stitching the disparate sources together, through quietly lush quartet arrangements, inspired by 21st century music.
LIAM BYRNE / divides his time between playing very old and very new music on the viol. He has been praised in The Times for his “nuanced and expressive, stylish virtuosity” and by The Guardian for his “glittering performance”. With the firm belief that baroque music can be vibrant and expressive on its own terms, Liam’s solo work regularly explores lesser known corners of 16th and 17th century repertoire. This same interpretative curiosity has led him to work increasingly with living composers, and he has recently had new works written for him by Donnacha Dennehy, David Lang, Edmund Finnis, Nico Muhly, Valgeir Sigurðsson and others.
As a chamber musician, Liam has performed and recorded with many leading Early Music ensembles, including the viol consorts Fretwork and Phantasm, the Huelgas Ensemble, The Sixteen, Le Concert d’Astrée, i Fagiolini, and the Dunedin Consort,among many others. Beyond the realm of early music, Liam has worked with a wide variety of artists including Damon Albarn, Nils Frahm, Matthew Herbert, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Bryce Dessner (The National), Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Martin Parker, and Shara Nova (My Brightest Diamond).
CLEEK SCHREY / Virginia-born Cleek Schrey is one of the world's few players of the stunning hardanger d'amore, a uniquely-designed violin with five strings that resonate sympathetically beneath the fingerboard to create a rich resonance of pure beauty and depth, favoured by early music and folk composers alongside some of the fierce innovators of contemporary classical music of the 21st century.
Like his instrument, Schrey's musical interests span centuries of tradition and repertoire, his music is a lifeline to a forgotten past with a steady focus on the music of today. Playing traditional mountain Appalachian songs from his native Virginia alongside improvisational techniques developed with collaborators such as David Berman and Alvin Lucier, his performances have the power to transport the imagination across time and space. Schrey draws on fiddling practices from across the American south and introduces elements of traditional repertoire, improvisation, and experimental composition, his music conjures a profound appreciation for melody, tuning and resonance.
Described by the Irish Times as "a musician utterly at one with his instrument and his music," Cleek Schrey is a fiddler and composer from Virginia, now based in NYC. Recent engagements include a residency with David Behrman and Anton Lukoszevieze at Café OTO (London), the Beckett in London Festival with Gare St. Lazare, and a solo appearance at the Kilkenny Arts Festival. He has studied composition with David Behrman, Paul Caputo, Alvin Lucier, Bunita Marcus, and Ronald Kuivila, and received his master’s degree in composition from Wesleyan University. He is a member of the composer’s collective New Perplexity (Daniel Fishkin, Dina Maccabee, Ron Shalom, Cecilia Lopez), and a member of the improvisational pop collective EXO-Tech.