COVID-19 Updates: Fall Semester

Turtle Island Quartet and Cyrus Chestnut, Piano; 11/22/2019

Friday, November 22

Turtle Island Quartet;
Cyrus Chestnut, Piano 

7:30 PM, Mahaney Arts Center, Robison Hall

The Grammy-winning Turtle Island Quartet makes its Middlebury debut in a collaborative concert with the series’ most frequent jazz artist, acclaimed pianist Cyrus Chestnut, to traverse countless colors of jazz in a program called Carry Me Home. The partnership is infused with the global reach of gospel and sacred music, ranging from the Appalachian Mountains to the spiritually defined musical landscape of J. S. Bach. This moving night of Duke Ellington, Bill Monroe, Bill Withers, Coltrane, and more also features the world premiere of Saint Paul A.M.E., a new work by Middlebury College’s own music professor Matthew Evan Taylor, commissioned for our 100th anniversary season.

NEW! Pre-concert lecture by Assistant Professor of Music/Composer Matthew Evan Taylor at 6:15 PM in MAC 221.

Toast the artists at a free post-concert reception.

Tickets: $30 General public/$25 Midd ID holders/$10 Youth (18 and under)/$6 Midd students


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The Turtle Island Quartet and pianist Cyrus Chestnut performing Will the Circle Be Unbroken" by Gabriel and Habershon. 


Program will be announced from the stage and will include selections from the following pieces: 

Duke Ellington Come Sunday
Mohammed Rafi (Sufi Ghazal) Rafta Rafta Woh Meri
Bill Monroe The Old Crossroads
Mirabai (12th century, Hindu Bhajan) Hari Tuma Haro
J.S. Bach Gloria in Excelsis Deo
Anon. Spiritual Wade in the Water
John Coltrane Compassion
Ada Habershon Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Bill Withers  Lean On Me
Matthew Evan Taylor Saint Paul A.M.E. (world premiere)

Turtle Island QuartetCyrus Chestnut, pianoMatthew Evan Taylor, composer

Turtle Island Quartet

David Balakrishan, Violin
Gabriel Terracciano, Violin
Benjamin Von Gutzeit, Viola
Malcolm Parson, Cello

Since its inception in 1985, the Turtle Island Quartet, has been a singular force in the creation of bold, new trends in chamber music for strings. Winner of the 2006 and 2008 GRAMMY® Awards for Best Classical Crossover category, Turtle Island fuses the classical quartet esthetic with contemporary American musical styles, and by devising a performance practice that honors both, the state of the art has inevitably been redefined. Cellist nonpareil Yo-Yo Ma has proclaimed TIQ to be “a unified voice that truly breaks new ground – authentic and passionate a reflection of some of the most creative music-making today.”

The Quartet’s birth was the result of violinist David Balakrishnan’s brainstorming explorationsand compositional vision while writing his master’s thesis at Antioch University West. Thejourney has taken Turtle Island through forays into folk, bluegrass, swing, be-bop, funk, R&B, new age, rock, hip-hop, as well as music of Latin America and India ...a repertoire consisting ofhundreds of ingenious arrangements and originals. It has included over a dozen recordings on labels such as Windham Hill, Chandos, Koch and Telarc, soundtracks for major motion pictures, TV and radio credits such as the Today Show, All Things Considered, Prairie Home Companion, and Morning Edition, feature articles in People and Newsweek magazines, and collaborations with famed artists such as clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera, vibraphonist StefonHarris, guitar legends Leo Kottke and the Assad brothers, The Manhattan Transfer, pianists Billy Taylor, Kenny Barron, Cyrus Chestnut and Ramsey Lewis, singers Tierney Sutton and Nellie McKay, the Ying Quartet and the Parsons and Luna Negra Dance Companies.

Another unique element of Turtle Island is their revival of venerable improvisational and compositional chamber traditions that have not been explored by string players for nearly 200years. At the time of Haydn’s apocryphal creation of the string quartet form, musicians were more akin to today’s saxophonists and keyboard masters of the jazz and pop world, i.e., improvisers, composers, and arrangers. Each Turtle Island member is accomplished in these areas of expertise.

As Turtle Island members continue to refine their skills through the development of repertory bysome of today’s cutting edge composers, through performances and recordings with major symphonic ensembles, and through a determined educational commitment, the Turtle Island Quartet stakes its claim as the quintessential ‘New World’ string quartet of the 21st century.

Artist website:

Cyrus Chestnut, Piano
Composer, pianist and educator Cyrus Chestnut is a musical force that utilizes his classical, Gospel and jazz influences to entertain and capture his audiences. Born in 1963, Chestnut started his musical career at the age of three, playing piano at the Mount Calvary Star Baptist Church at the age of five in his hometown of Baltimore, MD. In the fall of 1981, Cyrus began jazz education in Boston, MA at the Berklee College of Music, where he earned a degree in jazz composition and arranging.
After Berklee, Cyrus began further honing his craft as a sideman with some of the legendary and leading musicians in the business. Some of these great people include; Jon Hendricks, Michael Carvin, Donald Harrison, Terence Blanchard, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Delfeayo Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller, Regina Cater, Chick Corea, Jimmy Heath, James Moody, Joe Williams, Isaac Hayes, Kathleen Battle, Betty Carter and, Dizzy Gillespie just to name a few. Even the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, asked him to join her on one of her Christmas Concerts in 2013. His association with Betty Carter, which began in 1991 significantly affected his outlook and approach to music, confirming his already iconoclastic instincts. Carter advised him to “take chances” and play things I’ve never heard,” Chestnut says.
As Cyrus was absorbing experiences as a sideman, he was also developing as a leader, recording and playing live around the world. There’s a Brighter Day Coming was his first self-released album, followed by The Nutman Speaks (1992), The Nutman Speaks Again (1992), Another Direction (1993). The records received the prestigious Gold Disk award from Japan’s leading jazz publication, Swing Journal. As a bandleader, Cyrus Chestnut’s repertoire is vast and his work has been featured in films such as Robert Altman’s Kansas City (in which Chestnut also made his big screen debut portraying a Count Basie-inspired pianist) and Piano Grand: A Smithsonian Celebration.
In the fall of 2014, Cyrus was appointed professor of Jazz Piano and Improvisation at the prestigious Howard University in Washington, offering lectures to the next generation of musical artists. Devoted to education and community engagement, Chestnut’s new appointment builds upon his career as one of jazz’s most celebrated performers.
In November 2015 Cyrus got together with two other giants of jazz, Buster Williams on bass and Lenny White on drums and recorded a beautiful collection of classic trio material. ‘Natural Essence’ (Highnote Records) was released in May 2016 and garnered many accolades. The next release, ‘There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit’, also with Highnote Records, accomplished the same success, receiving a 4-star review from The Observer and reaching #1 on the Jazz Week charts two weeks running. Cyrus’s next August 2018 release, Kaleidoscope, features newly arranged jazz interpretations of classical pieces by Debussy, Ravel, Mozart and Satie.
With more than a dozen studio albums in his discography, Cyrus continues to experiment with his familiar integration of jazz, spiritual and classical sound that reflect his heritage and identity as an artist. His most recent composition, “The Saga Of The Cross”, was created for jazz quintet and choir and premiered at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem on Good Friday 2017.
Matthew Evan Taylor
As an artist, Matthew Evan Taylor, is intrigued by four aspects of music; the growth of complex music from a simple idea, the social nature of the art form (especially, as it manifests in improvisation and the audience’s reaction), the evocation of color and atmosphere through sound, and the relationship of dance and music. He believes that today’s culture encourages a new kinetic, vibrant type of art, with unhinged rhythms and unbridled expression. It is Matthew’s goal to reflect this world and what is awe-inspiring about it through his music. Ultimately, he wishes to connect with the audience and expose the beauty that is all around.

Matthew was born in Boston, Massachusetts (3 December, 1980) and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, where he was exposed early to the music of Cannonball Adderly, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. He began playing saxophone at the age of 9, and quickly began learning the music of his heroes by ear. In college, he was introduced to the music of Igor Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg, which opened his ears to the world of modern classical music. After a five year stint touring as a founding member of Sony Music recording artist Moses Mayfield, Matthew moved to Miami in 2009 to focus on composition, where he was an active artist, both performer and composer, in the Miami area and beyond. His music has been premiered in Miami, New York City, San Francisco and Cortona, Italy and performed by the Imani WindsThe Cleveland Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, pianist Marilyn Crispell and clarinetist Gregory Oakes

Matthew has garnered praise in publications such as the Miami Herald and the Huffington Post. He has been recognized as a promising emerging composer by the American Composer's Orchestra, the Imani Winds, and Festival Miami. Matthew has also been awarded grants and commissions such as Miami Light Project’s Here & Now commission and Tigertail Production’s Artists Access Grant, given in conjunction with the Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs.

Matthew has been involved in fruitful collaborations with dancer/choreographers Priscilla MarreroKatherine Kramer, and Joanne Barrett, musicians Elliott Sharp and Tatsuya Nakatani, and artists Pablo Cano and Ferrán Martin. He also was a founding member of Fridamusiq, an ensemble of four composers interested in free improvisation. Matthew is also a co-founder of the Vanguard Miami Festival of New Music, at the New Century/New Voices Festival of MIddlebury College

Matthew is currently Assistant Professor of Music at Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Miami, Frost School of Music, where he was also an instructor in music theory and aural skills. His teachers include Dr. Dorothy Hindman, Dr. Dennis Kam, Dr. Charles Mason, Dr. Lansing McLoskey, Dr. Gabriela Lena Frank, Stevan Tickmayer, and Dr. John Stewart. He has studied saxophone with Dale Underwood, Sallie Vines White, Jack Sharp, and Dr. Russell Thomas.

Matthew is a BMI composer and a member of the Society of Composers, Inc., College Music Society, and American Composers Forum.

Artist website:

Mahaney Arts Center
Middlebury College
South Main St./Route 30 South
72 Porter Field Rd.
Middlebury, VT 05753
(802) 443-3168 phone
(802) 443-2834 fax