Resident Ensemble

Quince: Ensemble In Residence

2019-20 Season

Quince will be joining us for the Joel Thompson  “Seven Last Words” event in March 2020. Keep checking back for details!

Quince is:

About Quince Ensemble

Singing with the precision and flexibility of modern chamber musicians, Quince Ensemble is changing the paradigm of contemporary vocal music. Described as “the Anonymous 4 of new music” by Opera News, Quince continually pushes the boundaries of vocal ensemble literature.

As dedicated advocates of new music, Quince regularly commissions new works, providing wider exposure for the music of living composers. They recently received a Chamber Music America award to commission a new song cycle by Chicago-based composer, LJ White, and will be releasing their 3rd studio album, Motherland, on New Focus Recordings in Spring 2018.

In 2016, Quince was featured on the KODY Festival Lublin, Poland in collaboration with David Lang and Beth Morrison Projects. They have also appeared on the Outpost Concert Series, the Philip Glass: Music with Friends concert at the Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, Alia Musica, and the SONiC Festival in New York.  During the 2017-18 season, they will collaborate with Third Angle New Music, Philadelphia’s Bowerbird, Washington University in St. Louis, MO, Lawrence University, Cornish University, Tigue, Man Forever, and Tenth Intervention.

Comprised of vocalists Liz Pearse (soprano), Kayleigh Butcher (mezzo-soprano), Amanda DeBoer Bartlett (soprano), and Carrie Henneman Shaw (soprano), Quince thrives on unique musical challenges and genre-bending contemporary repertoire.

Quince Ensemble in the press

“Judging by the evidence here, Quince Ensemble is the Anonymous 4 of new music. They have a clear mission (in this case, commissioning, performing, and advocating new and experimental work), superb blend, great versatility, and a general fearlessness of approach. It’s hard to imagine that the fresh, daring, often forbiddingly difficult works on this disc could be performed any better.” — Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News

“Over the years, the ensemble’s rapport has grown to almost telepathic levels.” — Peter Margasak, Chamber Music America, Summer 2017

“Ohio-based Quince, comprising founder and soprano Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, soprano Liz Pearse and mezzo-sopranos Kayleigh Butcher and Aubrey Von Almen, with guest artist Delea Shand, sang a breathtaking program”

“It was clear that Quince had arrived as a new force of vocal excellence and innovation.”

“As the evening progressed and Quince sang wonder after wonder, the audience awaited each of them with Pavlovian anticipation.” — David St.-Lascaux, The Brooklyn Rail

Quince Ensemble online

You can find Quince Ensemble on Facebook and Twitter!

  • Listen to the Three Madrigals, movement by Max Grafe on Vimeo.
  • Listen to Stellar Atmospheres by Molly Herron with The Dervishes (inventor Andy Cavatorta) on YouTube.

Quince Ensemble Story

Greg Staskiewicz

Oct. 5, 2018

The frontiers of the Earth might be closed, but the borders of the mind and music widen every day. One vocal quartet will soon bring their cutting-edge music to Omaha.

Quince Ensemble will perform their residency for Vesper Concerts in a free concert at 3 p.m., Oct. 21, at Presbyterian Church of the Cross. Their repertoire will include traditional chants, folk music and some pieces that go beyond the everyday idea of what music is.

Quince joined forces with Derrick Fox, director of choral activities and assistant professor of music at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, to create the first vocal contemporary residency in Nebraska, said Stacie Haneline, artistic director at Vesper Concerts.

Quince is an all-female vocal quartet formed in 2010 at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. They sing classical music but aren’t stuck with only the old stuff. The group specializes in music by living composers, and sometimes they try out experimental music, said Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, Quince member.

She said most a cappella groups have lower male voices, but the four friends who founded Quince said, “We don’t need dudes.” So, they started to commission music from their friends at school. The other three members are Liz Pearse, Kayleigh Butcher and Carrie Shaw.

“We have things that sounds like noise and chaos, that my mom might call really ugly,” Bartlett said. “And then we have some things that are very beautiful and sound like how a traditional string quartet might sound.

They tour all over the country, getting together to do two or three shows per month. The women are all treble voices, with one mezzo soprano.

Beyond just singing, Bartlett also does the marketing and web design for Quince. She said the group likes to act as their own agents because it lets them maintain their own personality.

“What we find with a lot of classical music marketing is, like all marketing, it sort of objectifies women in certain ways, that we’re just like ‘You know what, that’s not interesting to us,’” she said. “So we get to maintain and form our own image, which is exactly how we want it to be.”

For instance, Bartlett said, if she worked for a traditional opera troupe, she might be cast as “the flirty maid” because of her voice type.

Because Quince is able to manage their own image, she said, they have agency over the stories they tell – a variety of things that show the scope of human experience.

In 2015, Quince commissioned “Prisoner of Conscience”, a controversial piece about the persecution of the Russian protest music group, Pussy Riot, after their performance inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour that criticized the Russian Orthodox Church, Bartlett said.

The piece, written by composer Jennifer Jolley and librettist Kendall A, quotes some of Pussy Riot’s song lyrics and take excerpts from the group’s court proceedings.

“What we don’t often do is stop to process emotionally what’s happening,” Bartlett said.

“So that’s something we can do musically, is take these events out of context and say, ‘Wow, what does it feel like to be a woman in Russia who was arrested due to censorship?’”

In their residency with Vesper Concerts, Quince will bring more of the innovative music they’ve become known for.

Bartlett said the quartet will perform Woodie Guthrie’s, “The Deportees”, which gives names to Mexican migrant farmers who died in a plane crash while being deported from the US after the growing season – the pilot and the aid worker for the migrants were named, but the migrants themselves were only referred to as “the deportees”.

The piece gives names to stories, and faces to statistics, she said.

Quince will also perform alongside high school and college students from Bellevue West and East high schools, Lincoln East High School and the UNO.

Haneline said that in preparation for the concert, students worked with contemporary vocal techniques and notation and learned music that would help them get a better idea of diversity of composers and musical styles.

The quartet and the students will perform “Squarepushers”, by Amanda Feery, Bartlett said. “Squarepushers”, which she called an “ethereal soundscape piece”, is based on electronic music software, where musicians push boxes around to make beats. The singers will follow different overlapping chant melodies, to sing an evolving, unpredictable song.

The concert will also feature “Stripsody” by Cathy Berberian, Bartlett said. The piece channels Adam West’s Batman – each student will sing a different comic book sound effect like “kapow”, “bonk” or “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!”

“We feel very driven to make music that we think is important within the context of what’s going on currently,” Bartlett said.