KAIA String Quartet

Victoria Moreira, violin 

Naomi Culp, violin

Amanda Grimm, viola

Hope DeCelle, cello


July 13, 2021

Rush Hour Concerts

Robbie Ellis, pre-concert talk host


Miguel Bernal Jiménez – Cuarteto Virreinal (15′)

I. Allegro

II. Zarabanda con variaciones

III. Minué – Trio

IV. Mosso e spigliato

Giacomo Puccini – I Crisantemi (6′)

Elbio Barilari – Tango Suite (18′)*world premiere

I. Afile

II. Metejón

III. Viaraza

IV. Espiante

Astor Piazzolla; arr. Moreira – Escualo (4′)

From the tango of the Rio de la Plata to the string quartets of Silvestre Revueltas, the KAIA String Quartet is an ensemble devoted to promoting the rich and colorful music of Latin America. Active performers in both the US and abroad, highlights of the 2019-2020 season include a residency at the Avaloch Farm Institute, a concert tour in Uruguay and Argentina including a performance at Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, as well as performances at various concert series in North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The Quartet plays an active role in Chicago’s music scene where they are regular guests at the Chicago Latino Music Festival and the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art. In 2017, KAIA was the first ensemble in residence at Chicago’s classical radio station, WFMT. During this residency they explored the world of Latin classical music with audiences through daily radio segments, performances and broadcasts around the city and the production of KAIA Kids, a series of children’s education videos.


Celebrated by Downbeat magazine for its ability to “beautifully blur the lines between jazz, classical, Latin and world music” KAIA’s album collaboration with Fareed Haque was chosen by Chicago Tribune’s Howard Reich as one of the top ten classical recordings of 2018. Their album, Sureño, explores the music and relationship of Argentinian composers Astor Piazzolla and José Bragato. The latest recording project released in 2020 includes a collaboration with jazz pianist Ryan Cohan in his work Originations. KAIA together with Cohan and his chamber ensemble were featured performing this piece at 2019 Chicago’s Jazz Fest main stage.

KAIA is deeply devoted to music education. From 2013-2017, the quartet traveled to Tijuana, Mexico to present and perform in schools through the sponsorship of the Mainly Mozart Festival. They are teaching artists for Ravinia’s Reach*Teach*Play program and for the International Music Foundation’s Live Music Now program. KAIA is currently in residence at DePaul University’s Community Music Division.

Miguel Bernal Jiménez (1910-1956)

Cuarteto Virreinal (1937) (15′) 

Composer, organist, musicologist and pedagogist, José Ignacio Miguel Julián Bernal Jiménez was born during the Mexican revolution of the early 20th century in Morelia, Michoacán. Influenced by sacred music and also the regional and nationalistic sounds of his home Mexico, Jiménez is perhaps one of the leading figured of the 20th century Mexican religious music canon. Cuarteto Virreinal, Jiménez’s most notable composition, utilizes traditional children’s folk songs to depict this distinct nationalist character. The folk songs used are A la víbora de la mar, Naranja dulce, limon partido, Pica,pica,pica, perico, and Pase la elegida, la niña dichosa. These songs are skillfully entwined with western Baroque and Classical music forms, while still staying true to his Mexican heritage.

Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)

I Crisantemi (1890) (6′) 

Giacomo Puccini will forever be known as a staple of the Opera repertoire, being hyper focused on this medium for much of his life. Puccini himself stated that his talents existed “only in the theatre,” leaving very few works by him for other mediums. When Puccini was 32,  Prince Amadeo di Savoia, Duca d’Aosta and King of Spain passed away suddenly, leading Puccini to compose I Cristantemi (The Chrysanthemums). Completed in one night, this work is a single-movement elegy, full of plaintive and poignant melodies. Three years later Puccini would reuse some of this music in his opera Manon Lescaut.

Elbio Barilari (b. 1953)

Tango Suite (2021) (18′)*world premiere 

Elbio Rodríguez Barilari was born in 1953 in Uruguay, where he studied at the Conservatório Universitario before continuing his education in Brazil at the Cursos Latinoamericanos de Música Contemporáne. He subsequently studied in Germany on an invitation from the Deutscher Musikrat and was also mentored while in Europe by Luciano Berio, Konrad Boehmer, Otto Donner, and Misha Mengelberg. Since settling in the United States in 1998, Barilari has lectured at the University of Chicago and the Instituto Cervantes, and given workshops in Chile and Paraguay; he is currently on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Chicago. As a composer, Barilari has received commissions from the Grant Park Music Festival, Concertante di Chicago, Chicago Park District, Chicago Composer Forums, Orquesta Filarmonica de Montevideo, pianists Maria João Pires and Marcel Worms, and guitarist Eduardo Fernandez; as well as a grant from the Sara Lee Foundation.
Program Notes from the Composer:

The “Tango Suite” is a celebration of the tango composers from Uruguay: Raúl Jaurena, Jaurés Lamarque Pons, Matos Rodríguez, Pintín Castellanos, el Potrillo Zagnoli, Luis Pasquet, Manolo Guardia & Luis Di Matteo, as well as my Argentine mentors Astor Piazzolla & Horacio Salgán.

Tango is the music of two towns, Buenos Aires and Montevideo, the twin capitals of Argentina and Uruguay, united by the Rio de la Plata. Since the 1920’s Argentine as well as Uruguayan composers have been using tango as a source for “classical” music for piano, chamber ensembles and orchestras. While composing this piece I focused on some of the composers from my country of birth, Uruguay. Without using any quotations from their music, I just let my imagination get immersed in the musical gestures and sonic landscapes they created throughout so many years. Astor Piazzolla and Horacio Salgán were Argentine tango musicians I knew very well. They encouraged me and they were also a welcome source of inspiration.

The titles of each of the four movements are in “lunfardo”, our urban tango slang. “Afile” means courtship. “Metejón” means passion, or even infatuation. “Viaraza” means to get mad, or angry. “Espiante” means to go away, or to be sent away… depending on the circumstances. We can imagine this for movements as the portrait of a relationship. I still may compose a 5th movement entitled “Reconciliation”… what do you think? Should I?

Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992);

arr. Gerardo Moreira

Escualo (1978) (4′) 

Astor Piazzolla was an Argentinian composer, arranger and bandoneon player, who is credited for revolutionizing the tango by entwining jazz and classical music elements to create the new genre termed Nuevo Tango. Escualo, meaning Shark or dogfish, was composed in 1978, was the title track of that album, all of the pieces on it having one thing in common, all being inspired by his favorite hobby of shark-fishing. Originally composed for violin and piano, this work is considered one of his most rhythmically challenging and notoriously difficult for violinists. Here we have it arranged expertly for the string quartet by Gerardo Moreira.

Program Notes by Ashley Ertz


The Clare is the exclusive media sponsor for Rush Hour Concerts.

The Rush Hour Concerts series is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council Agency. Rush Hour Concerts are produced in partnership with St. James Cathedral and WFMT.

Don’t miss the music by Caroline Shaw and Johannes Brahms next week on

Rush Hour Concerts!

Tuesday July 20, 5:45pm

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