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Grand Opening: Pacifica Quartet with violinist Almita Vamos and pianist Winston Choi

Tickets range from $35 – $45 based on seating assignment. UTRF members receive $5 off their tickets, use code MEMBERS at checkout, limited student seating is $10. A  post-event reception will be available to all guests.

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The Unity Chamber Music Series is supported in part by the Oak Park Area Arts Council, Illinois Arts Council Agency, and Alphawood Foundation.


Florence Price (1887-1953):

String Quartet No. 1 in G major (1929)

  1. Allegro
  2. Andante moderato – Allegretto

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953):

String Quartet No. 2 in F major, Op. 92 (1941)

  1. Allegro sostenuto
  2. Adagio
  3. Allegro


Ernest Chausson (1855-1899): 

Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet, Op. 21

  1. Décidé
  2. Sicilienne
  3. Grave
  4. Finale

About Pacifica Quartet

With a career spanning nearly three decades, the multiple Grammy Award-winning Pacifica Quartet has achieved international recognition as one of the finest chamber ensembles performing today. The Quartet is known for its virtuosity, exuberant performance style, and often-daring repertory choices. Named faculty string quartet-in-residence at the Indian University Jacobs School of Music in 2012, the Quartet was previously quartet-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and most recently received its second Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance for Contemporary Voices (2020), featuring the works of three Pulitzer Prize-winning women. The Quartet also leads the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies at the Aspen Music Festival and School.

Formed in 1994, the Pacifica Quartet has proven itself the preeminent interpreter of string quartet cycles, harnessing the group’s singular focus and incredible stamina to portray each composer’s evolution, often over the course of just a few days. Having given highly acclaimed performances of the complete Carter cycle in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Houston; the Mendelssohn cycle in Napa, Australia, New York, and Pittsburgh; and the Beethoven cycle in New York, Denver, St. Paul, Chicago, Napa, and Tokyo (in an unprecedented presentation of five concerts in three days at Suntory Hall), the Quartet presented the monumental Shostakovich cycle in Chicago, New York, Montreal and at London’s Wigmore Hall. The Quartet has been widely praised for these cycles, with critics calling the concerts “brilliant,” “astonishing,” “gripping,” and “breathtaking.”

Recent season highlights include defining performances at Shriver Hall with Marc-André Hamelin and for the Montreal International String Quartet Academy, as well as appearances on North America’s major chamber-music series, including concerts in Charlottesville, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Kansas City, and Vancouver.

An ardent advocate of contemporary music, the Pacifica Quartet commissions and performs many new works including those by Keeril Makan, Julia Wolfe, and Shulamit Ran, the latter in partnership with the Music Accord consortium, London’s Wigmore Hall, and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. The work – entitled Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory – had its New York debut as part of the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center series.

In 2008 the Quartet released its Grammy Award-winning recording of Carter’s quartets Nos. 1 and 5 on the Naxos label; the 2009 release of quartets Nos. 2, 3, and 4 completed the two-CD set. Cedille Records released the group’s four-CD recording of the entire Shostakovich cycle, paired with other contemporary Soviet works, to rave reviews: “The playing is nothing short of phenomenal.” (Daily Telegraph, London) Other recent recording projects include Leo Ornstein’s rarely-heard piano quintet with Marc-André Hamelin with an accompanying tour, the Brahms piano quintet with the legendary pianist Menahem Pressler, and the Brahms and Mozart clarinet quintets with the New York Philharmonic’s principal clarinetist, Anthony McGill.

The members of the Pacifica Quartet live in Bloomington, IN, where they serve as quartet-in-residence and full-time faculty members at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Prior to their appointment, the Quartet was on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana from 2003 to 2012, and also served as resident performing artist at the University of Chicago for seventeen years.

Simin Ganatra Violin 

Simin Ganatra, a Grammy-award winning violinist, has won wide recognition for her performances throughout the United States and abroad. She has been described by critics as an “excellent and unique violinist” and heralded for “creating a miraculous sense of flow and otherworldly beauty.” She has performed in such prestigious venues as Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, the Corcoran Gallery, and Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall. Collaborations include performances with Michael Tree, Toby Hoffman, and the St. Lawrence Quartet. She is the recipient of several awards and prizes, including the Naumburg Chamber Music Award, top prizes at the Concert Artists Guild Competition and the Coleman Chamber Music Competition, and first prizes in the Union League of Chicago Competition, the Pasadena Instrumental Competition, the Minnesota Sinfonia Competition, and the Schubert Club Competition. Originally from Los Angeles, Ganatra studied with Idell Low, Robert Lipsett, and most recently Roland and Almita Vamos. She is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, where she was concertmaster of the Oberlin Conservatory Orchestra and recipient of the Louis Kaufman Prize for outstanding performance in chamber music. She is currently on the faculty of Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music and the University of Chicago.

Austin Hartman Violin

Grammy-award winning violinist, Austin Hartman, has distinguished himself as a chamber musician, soloist and educator with performances throughout the United States and abroad that critics have hailed as a “top flight…masterclass in chamber music.” His performances have been featured in venues throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Africa that include Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, Wigmore Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the Baroque Art Hall in Seoul. Since joining the Pacifica Quartet in 2017, Mr. Hartman has served on the faculty of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where the quartet is in-residence and on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival where he co-directs the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies. He has collaborated with some of today’s most acclaimed artists that include members of the Cleveland, Shanghai, Tokyo, Vermeer, and Juilliard Quartets as well as Menahem Pressler, Sharon Isbin and Anthony McGill. For twelve seasons, he was the first violinist and founding member of the Biava Quartet an ensemble that garnered the 2003 Naumburg Chamber Music Award and captured top prizes at the Premio Borciani and London International String Quartet Competitions. As a soloist, Mr. Hartman has made numerous appearances with orchestras throughout his career that include two guest appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra. In 1999, he was awarded the Gold Medal prize at the Stulberg International String Competition and since that time he has continued to present solo recitals around the world that included a number of humanitarian concert performances featured in China, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Taiwan and Zambia. His discography can be heard on the Albany, Naxos, and Cedille labels and in 2020, along with his colleagues, he won a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance of the Year. As an educator, Mr. Hartman has served on the faculty of numerous summer festivals including the Brevard Music Center, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Heifetz International Music Institutes and the Luzerne Music Center. Prior to joining the Pacifica Quartet, Mr. Hartman was the Assistant Professor of Violin at the University of Indianapolis where he conducted the orchestra and opera theatre while also co-founding the Indianapolis Quartet. He has earned Artist Diplomas from both the Juilliard School and Yale School of Music as well as degrees from the New England Conservatory and Cleveland Institute of Music.

Mark Holloway Viola

Violist Mark Holloway is a Grammy-award winning chamber musician sought after in the United States and abroad. He is a member of the Pacifica Quartet, in-residence at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University Bloomington, where he is a member of the faculty. An artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, he has appeared at prestigious festivals and series such as Marlboro, Music@Menlo, Ravinia, Caramoor, Banff, Taos, Music from Angel Fire, Mainly Mozart, Alpenglow, Plush, Whittington, Olympic, Concordia Chamber Players, Kon-Tiki, Bay Chamber Concerts, and with the Boston Chamber Music Society. Performances have taken him to such far-flung places as Chile and Greenland, and he plays regularly at chamber music festivals in France, Musikdorf Ernen in Switzerland, and at the International Musicians Seminar in Prussia Cove, England. He has frequently appeared as a guest with the New York Philharmonic, Orpheus, and the Metropolitan Opera orchestras.  Mr. Holloway has been principal violist at Tanglewood and of the New York String Orchestra, and he has played as a guest with the Boston Symphony and guest principal of the American Symphony, Riverside Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Camerata Bern, American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He has performed at Bargemusic, the 92nd Street Y, the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, Tertulia, the Cartagena International Music Festival, with the Israeli Chamber Project, Chameleon Arts Ensemble, NOVUS NY, Emerald City Music, and on radio and television throughout the Americas and Europe, most recently a Live From Lincoln Center broadcast. Hailed as an “outstanding violist” by American Record Guide, and praised by Zürich’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung for his “warmth and intimacy,” he has recorded for the Marlboro Recording Society, CMS Live, Music@Menlo LIVE, Naxos, and Albany labels. Mr. Holloway was a student of Michelle LaCourse at Boston University, where he received his B.M. Summa cum laude, and he received his Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music as a student of Michael Tree.

Brandon Vamos Cello

Brandon Vamos, a Grammy-award winning cellist, has performed solo and chamber music recitals both in the U.S. and  abroad  to critical  acclaim.  Called  a “first-rate cellist” by the Chicago Reader and praised for his “gutsy bravura” by the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Vamos has appeared as soloist with orchestras worldwide, including performances with the Taipei City Symphony, the Suwon Symphony in Seoul, the Samara Symphony in Russia, and the New Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Vamos has collaborated with many distinguished artists, including Paul Katz, Michael Tree, Yo-Yo Ma, Menahem Pressler, and the Emerson Quartet, and has recorded for Cedille, Naxos, and Cacophony Records. Awarded a Performer’s Certificate at the Eastman School of Music, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Music Degree as a student of Mr. Katz,  Mr. Vamos has also studied with distinguished artists such as Tanya Carey in Macomb, Illinois, and Aldo Parisot at Yale University, where he earned a Master of Music Degree. As a member of the Pacifica Quartet, with whom he performs over 90 concerts a year, he won a 2009 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance and the Cleveland Quartet Award, in addition to being named Musical America’s 2009 Ensemble of the Year. 

Almita Vamos Violin

Almita Vamos is a graduate of the Juilliard School where she studied with Mischa Mischakoff and Louis Persinger. Almita Vamos has won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching six times, the ASTA Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award, and has been featured on “Sunday Morning” CBS and in the New York Times best-selling book, Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mom by Amy Chua. 

Mrs. Vamos has served on the violin faculty of Western Illinois University, University of Minnesota, the Oberlin Conservatory, and Northwestern University. Mrs. Vamos is currently on the faculty of the Music Institute of Chicago and spends summers teaching at the Chautauqua Summer Music Institute. Mrs. Vamos’ students have won top prizes in many national competitions including Klein, Stuhlburg, Johannsen, Corpus Christi, Kingsville; and international competitions including Tchaikovsky, Carl Flesch, Menuhin, Bach (Leipzig), Szigeti, Kreisler, Neilsen, Paganini, and Montreal. Her students play in many orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, and many others.

She was a member of the Lydian Trio and the Antioch Quartet, and has recorded under Coronet and Rizzoli labels. She has concertized throughout North, Central, and South America, Europe, and Asia. Her recitals in New York won praise from the New York Times and Herald Tribune. She won the Concert Artist Guild Award, among many other prizes, and has performed recitals at the 92nd Street Y, Town Hall, and Carnegie Recital Hall. She continues to perform as a soloist and chamber musician in America and abroad.

Winston Choi Piano

Canadian pianist Winston Choi is the Director of the Piano Program and Associate Professor of Piano at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts. His professional career was launched when he was named Laureate of the 2003 Honens Piano Competition and winner of France’s Concours International de Piano 20e siècle d’Orléans in 2002. An inquisitive performer, his fresh approach to standard repertory, and masterful understanding, performance and commitment to works by living composers, make him one of today’s most dynamic concert artists.

Choi maintains an active international performing schedule, playing solo recitals, collaborative recitals, chamber music concerts, new music ensemble concerts and concerti. He tours regularly as a part of the Civitas Ensemble, Ensemble Dal Niente, and Duo Diorama (with his wife, violinist MingHuan Xu). As Duo Diorama, they are the Artistic Directors of the Unity Chamber Music Series. Choi is also on faculty at the New Music School and the Music Institute of Chicago.