Sami Merdinian and Sarah Whitney, violinists
Angela Pickett, violist
Laura Metcalf, cellist
Louis Levitt, bassist
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“Their rock star status…is well deserved. Their classically honed technique mixed with grit and all out passionate attack transfixes the audience...” That is how The Sarasota Herald Tribune described SYBARITE5, classical music’s most dynamic new music group. Comprised of Sami Merdinian and Sarah Whitney, violins; Angela Pickett, viola; Laura Metcalf, cello; and Louis Levitt, bass, Sybarite5 has taken audiences by storm all across the US, forever changing the perception of chamber music performance. From the moment their bows hit the strings, this quintet of talented, diverse musicians takes the audience on an exciting ride that engages the senses and redefines the rules.
From Mozart to Radiohead, Sybarite5’s eclectic repertoire and commanding performance style is turning heads throughout the music world:
“…that impassioned playing, those hard-driving rhythms, the blissed-out faces of the mostly young audience…Genuine, spontaneous…excitement” (The Washington Post). The Quintet’s debut EP disc Disturb the Silence, featuring music by Radiohead and Piazzolla, plus two original works written for Sybarite5, was released in spring 2011 and quickly reached the top ten on the Billboard charts. The group’s follow-up CD, Everything in its Right Place, is a continuation of the Radiohead Remixed Project and was released in November 2012 on the CAG Records label.
SYBARITE5’s 2016-2017 season starts with a summer tour across the United States including appearances at Wolf Trap, Music in the Mountains, Fontana Chamber Arts, Miami's Community Arts Program and culminating with a performance of their latest commissioning project, Look Back/Move Forward, at the Interlochen Arts Festival. In the 2016-2017 season the group will be seen in performances and residencies at series including Cliburn Sessions, Arts Tucson, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Wittenberg Series, Ohio University Performing Arts, Bologna Performing Arts Center, Chamber Music Society of St. Cloud, Cornell College, Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts, Pittsburg State University, Binghamton Philharmonic and at the cell in New York City. The group will serve as the resident ensemble for Wolf Trap Opera’s “Studio Spotlight” as well as for On Site Opera in New York City. A feature of their season is their newest project titled “OUTLIERS” featuring works written by some of today’s hottest composers including Shawn Conley, Jessica Meyer, Daniel Bernard Roumain and Michael Gilbertson. An album by the same name will be released in the fall of 2016. With their dynamic view on 21st-century entrepreneurial musicianship, the group will conduct residencies and workshops at major institutions and conservatories including the Curtis Institute of Music and New England Conservatory among others. SYBARITE5 will serve as the resident ensemble for the American Composers Forum International Competition in the fall of 2016 to be held at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City.
Highlights of recent seasons included performances on Detroit Symphony’s ‘At the Max’ series, Schubert Club MIX, Celebrity Series of Boston, Ravinia Festival, Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concerts, Pennsylvania State University, Longwood Gardens, Tilles Center, Anchorage Concert Association, Iowa’s Grinnell College and Luther College, Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech, Weber State University (UT) and Samford University in Birmingham, AL, as well as SYBARITE5’s own residency at the cell theater in New York City. Summer festivals included appearances at Bryant Park in New York, Caramoor Summer Festival and Wisconsin’s Green Lake Festival, following up on recent US festival concerts at The Aspen Music Festival, The Chautauqua Institution, Strings In the Mountains, Sybarite5’s Forward Festival, and international appearances at Canada’s Tuckamore Music Festival and the Osaka International Chamber Music Festival & Chamber Competition. SYBARITE5 was the Classical Contemporary Artist selected for the prestigious 2015-2016 Mid Atlantic Arts Tour funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.
In spring 2015, the Quintet gave the world premiere of the very first concerto for string quintet and orchestra—entitled BEATBOX—written by the acclaimed American composer Dan Visconti. The commissioning orchestras included Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra, South Carolina Philharmonic and the Midland Symphony of Michigan.
Career performance highlights include SYBARITE5’s Carnegie Hall debut at Zankel Hall on the CAG series, Library of Congress and Washington Performing Arts in DC, UC San Diego, Indiana State University Lively Arts and Weis Center at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, University of Arizona, Sun Valley Center for the Arts, UTC Fine Arts Center (TN), Fairbanks Concert Association, and in New York at Lincoln Center, Time Warner Center, Tishman Auditorium, SubCulture, Galapagos Artspace, the Apple Store, the Museum of Sex, the Core Club and the Cutting Room. The group has also performed on the CBS Early Show and for his Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Ongoing programs include the Radiohead Remixed Project, The Shuffle Effect, Look Back/Move Forward and New Music IDOL (featuring a series of short newly-commissioned works by student composers, in collaboration with University composition departments). Also at the 2011 CAG Competition, SYBARITE5 was awarded the Sylvia Ann Hewlett Adventurous Artist Prize, which was used to commission new pieces for Radiohead Remixed and to produce the CD, Everything in its Right Place. Composers recently commissioned to write new works for Sybarite5 include Andy Akiho, Kenji Bunch, Eric Byers, Shawn Conley, Mohammed Fairouz, Michael Gilbertson, Jessica Meyer, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Michi Wiancko, and Lev Zhurbin.
Formed at the Aspen Music Festival, SYBARITE5 was the first string quintet admitted to the Aspen Advanced String Quartet Studies program, where the group worked with Earl Carlyss of the Juilliard Quartet, bassist Edgar Meyer and the Cavani, American and Ying Quartets. From 2009-2013, the ensemble continued its tenure at the Aspen Music Festival in a new capacity as the AMFS Alumni Ensemble.