Chamber Music Monterey Bay Presents the Catalyst Quartet on Saturday, February 23 at the Sunset Center

Catalyst Quartet

performing works by Villa-Lobos, Vega, Piazzolla, and Ginastera

Sunset Center, Carmel

7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 23, 2019

6:45 p.m. Pre-Concert Talk with musicologist Kai Christiansen


“Wildly colorful and exploding with life!”

The Washington Post

“Invariably energetic and finely burnished…playing with earthy vigor”

The New York Times

The fourth concert in Chamber Music Monterey Bay’s 52nd season features the Catalyst Quartet (Karla Donehew Perez & Jessie Montgomery, violins; Paul Laraia, viola, Karlos Rodriguez, cello). The Catalyst last performed in Carmel in March of 2014. They return to the Sunset Center to perform a spirited program showcasing composers from south of the border: Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Quartet No. 1, Diego Vega’s String Quartet, Astor Piazzolla’s Suite del Angel (Angel Suite), and Alberto Ginastera’s Quartet No. 2.

Comprised of top laureates and alumni of the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Competition, the Catalyst Quartet has toured throughout the US and abroad, including sold-out performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Chicago’s Harris Theater, Miami’s New World Center, and Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium. Their festival appearances have included Mainly Mozart in San Diego, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, and the opening performance of Napa’s 2014 Festival del Sole with Joshua Bell. In fall of 2017, the quartet released their latest album Dreams and Daggers, featuring Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. Catalyst members are currently serving as international chamber music ambassadors in Cuba, and serve as the quartet-in-residence for the Native American Composer Apprentice Project in Arizona.

The Catalyst Quartet has a radically different approach to revitalizing classical music. Cellist Karlos Rodriguez states that the quartet hopes to shift the message of classical music in order to engage younger audiences and implement social change. The group chose the name “catalyst” to reflect their mission to affect change through music. He adds that the quartet achieves this goal through their programming, from recording music by historically important black composers to performing Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” with a drag queen on stage.

As we celebrate Black History Month, it’s appropriate to note that Catalyst is preparing to record works by black composers. Continues Rodriguez, “over the course of time there have been many overlooked artists in classical music, especially because of their race or gender. It is important to acknowledge that we have not yet heard the whole story due to this sidelining of musical voices. Composers like Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Florence B. Price, and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson have contributed beautifully crafted work to the repertoire but are not widely celebrated because quality recordings and performances of their music are rare or non-existent. With this recording project we are helping to change this unfortunate reality.

“We really do believe that we are a string quartet with purpose,” says Rodriguez. “All of our projects stand for something, and we believe them to have larger impact than just a concert … inevitably changing a landscape that has existed for many, many years unchanged. Given where we are as a planet, as a country, as a people, what else matters right now?” Rodriguez said. “The four of us, we believe in using music for good, and hopefully people feel that music can be that catalyst, if you will, to overcome adversity.”

Catalyst will visit the Youth Orchestra Salinas (YOSAL) on Friday, February 22 for two interactive student outreach sessions as part of Chamber Music Monterey Bay’s Visiting Artists Outreach program. YOSAL is a non-profit organization committed to transforming the lives of our youth and communities through the inspiration, discipline, and performance of classical and orchestral music.

Learn more about the music on the program by attending Chamber Music Monterey Bay’s popular pre-concert lecture with musicologist Kai Christiansen at 6:45 p.m.

Kids up Front and Free! Students in grades 3-12 and music teachers receive FREE tickets in the first three rows of the concert hall. $15.00 discounted tickets are available for their adult companions through Chamber Music Monterey Bay’s education program. Experience the concert up close.

Ticket prices: $33.00 – $52.00; $15.00 for adult students under 30 years of age and active military. Tickets are available at or (831) 625-2212. Box office opens at 5:45 p.m. on the day of the concert.

Chamber Music Monterey Bay is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve the tradition of live classical chamber music performance and explore the evolution of this intimate art form through commissions of new compositions and local educational outreach.

For more information, visit the following links:

Catalyst Quartet

Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Quartet No. 1

Diego Vega’s String Quartet

Astor Piazzolla’s Suite del Angel (Angel Suite)

Alberto Ginastera

Youth Orchestra Salinas

Chamber Music Monterey Bay

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