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'...a small, makeshift place.'

Reena Esmail (b. 1983) | Zeher

Kenji Bunch (b. 1973) | World Premiere String Quartet

Béla Bartók (1881—1945) | String Quartet No. 1 in A Minor

I. Lento
II. Allegretto – Introduzione
III. Allegro vivace


This program, which features the much anticipated second installment of our 5 year commissioning project, explores issues of finding one's voice. A literal expression of this can be found in Reena Esmail’s Zeher [Poison], in which she uses her masterful blend of Western and Indian musical vocabulary to depict an illness that robbed her of her voice and made it a dramatic struggle to breathe. Written in 2018, Esmail’s piece casts prescient light on the struggles of COVID-19 and some of the ways in which the illness has changed us. 


Bela Bartok’s 1909 String Quartet no. 1 marks his wistful transition (an “affectionate withdrawal,” as per one author) from the Romanticism of the 19th Century into his trademark modernism which helped to define the music of the 20th century. Perhaps his first true masterpiece, this work employs the Hungarian folk influences that he worked so hard to preserve, and would become a grounding part of his signature style.


Kenji Bunch’s new work for string quartet is sure to move and delight audiences with a good natured charm and sincerity that belies its complexities. The new work will center on issues of ‘Home’ and ‘Belonging’, ideas that for obvious reasons, are at the heart of the Sheffield Chamber Players mission. If you have previously enjoyed his works (Kenji is the third most represented composer on Sheffield Chamber Players programs past… after Beethoven and Shostakovich), then you know this will be a powerful must-see.

~ Leo Eguchi