ABOUT THE ENSEMBLE
ensemble LUX: Louise Chisson, Thomas Wally, Nora Romanoff-Schwarzberg and Mara Achleitner
ensemble LUX is a string quartet based in Vienna, Austria dedicated primarily to the performance and promotion of contemporary chamber music. After their formation in 2004, the group quickly established a strong presence in the Austrian contemporary music scene. ensemble LUX has been praised for its “extraordinary virtuosity” (Bregenzer Festspiele), and its “capability and sincerity” (DrehpunktKultur Salzburg). Their performances of stylistically varied compositions, a number of which were composed specifically for the ensemble, have been called “simply excellent” (Austrian Music Journal) and of their performance at the Schauspielhaus Wien, the Wiener Zeitung writes: “[They] accompanied in clockwork precision”.
“The evening fulfilled every expectation of a high-quality performance: many impressions, emotions and exceptional new impulses. There are still not enough concerts, in which one has the opportunity to hear contemporary music on such a high level – another reason to appreciate this concert. [...] The interpretation by ensemble LUX was a dynamic example of a thousand shades of raffinesse,” wrote Lucia Maloveskà (Opera Plus) about ensemble LUX’s concert in Prague.
ensemble LUX has performed all across Austria, including at the Aspekte Festival Salzburg, numerous concerts in the Wiener Musikverein and Wiener Konzerthaus, at the Bregenzer Festspielen, at Feldkirch Festival, at Wien Modern, at the Wiener Grabenfest, and at the Osterfestival Imago Dei at Klangraum Krems. They have concertized internationally at the Forum Zeitgenössische Musik in Leipzig, the Jornadas de Música Contemporánea in Sevilla, the Poznańska Wiosna Muzyczna in Poznan (Poland), the MusicOlomouc Festival in the (Czech Republic) as well as at the Théâtre Dunois in Paris, Berlin’s Forum Akazie 3 and at the Academy of Music in Cracow.
For two seasons, ensemble LUX was the “ensemble in residence” at the Österreichischen Gesellschaft für zeitgenössische Musik (Austrian Society for Contemporary Music). The quartet presented a cycle of four concerts at the Alte Schmiede Kunstverein Wien as “ensemble in residence”. ensemble LUX was the top recipient of “The New Austrian Sound of Music 2012/2013”, a stipend from the Austrian Foreign Ministry for travel on international concert tours. At Wien Modern 2013, ensemble LUX played the premiere and 9 performances of “Das Märchen vom alten Mann”, a musical theater production for children with music by Thomas Wally. In a total of 19 performances at the Schauspielhaus Wien, ensemble LUX performed on stage in the highly-acclaimed show “Johnny Breitwieser. Eine Verbrecher-Ballade aus Wien”. LUX made their North American debut at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York in November, 2016, followed by concerts in Montreal and Toronto.
In recent years, ensemble LUX performed at the Festival MusicOlomouc (CZ), in Prague, in Graz (KULTUM) as well as in numerous concerts in Vienna. In 2022, ensemble LUX performed a cycle of three concerts titled “Music. Judaism. Vienna.” in “Or Chadasch”, the synagogue of the Liberal Jewish Community in Vienna. Quartet repertoire from the interwar period (Arnold Schönberg’s String Quartet No. 3, Alexander Zemlinsky’s String Quartet No. 4) was combined with works from after WWII (György Ligeti’s Métamorphoses nocturnes) and contemporary works such as Olga Neuwirth’s Akroate Hadal und Settori. In January 2023 ensemble LUX concertized in Germany at the Stadthalle Aalen (Baden-Württemberg) “presenting itself in all three pieces as a markedly homogenous, routined and technically highly-accomplished quartet. Precise intonation in the tonal, as well as in the atonal passages, delicate dynamic differentiation, emotional escalations and clarity of sound – even in fierce passages – characterized the quartet’s performance, which earned the ovation from the audience,” (Gerhard Krehlik, Schwäbische Zeitung; www.schwäbische.de).
Alongside concerts at the Arnold Schönber Center (Vienna) and in the former synagogue in Kobersdorf (Austria), ensemble LUX will return in 2023 to Berlin to perform a concert at Unerhörte Musik.
LOUISE CHISSON, Violin
Born in Bordeaux, Louise Chisson began playing the violin at age three with Robert Papavrami and studied with him until age seventeen. She then entered the class of violinist Dora Schwarzberg at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, where she received her Master's degree unanimously with congratulations from the jury.
Louise Chisson has been on stage from an early age and has played in orchestras such as the Solistes Moscou-Montpellier, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, l’Orchestre d'Auvergne, l’Orchestre de Chambre de Toulouse, die Salzburger Kammerphilharmonie and the Prag Philharmonic Orchestra. She has distinguished herself in brilliant performances of the 24 Caprices of Paganini, the sonatas of Ysaÿe, Bach and Prokofiev, and of the violin concertos of Brahms, Prokofiev and Bartók.
Her musical activities have brought her to be noticed by and work with prestigious musicians such as Isaac Stern, Maya Glesarova, Tedi Papavrami, Augustin Dumay, Wolfgang Marschner and Ana Chumachenco.
Also chamber music has a very important place in her musical life. Her constant desire to enrich her repertoire has led her to develop a passion for music of the 20th and 21st century. She has performed numerous recitals with French pianists Jean-Philippe Collard and Eric Ferrand N’Kaoua.
Since 2008, she performs regularly with the Georgian pianist Tamara Atschba. Her first CD, dedicated to Janacek, Prokofiev and Poulenc was released in 2013 by the Austrian label Gramola and was ranked among the 10 best classical music albums of 2013 on artistxite.com.
Louise became a member of ensemble LUX in 2013.
THOMAS WALLY, Violin
Born in Vienna, Austria, Thomas Wally studied composition with Erich Urbanner and Chaya Czernowin and violin with Josef Hell at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, graduating in 2008 with distinction (violin and composition).
In 2005/2006 he spent an exchange year at the Sibelius-Akatemia Helsinki as a composition student of Paavo Heininen. His violin teachers in Helsinki were Erkki Kantola and Päivyt Meller. He attended violin masterclasses with Hanna Weinmeister and Volkhard Steude (Concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic).
As a violinist, Thomas dedicates himself primarily to the performance of contemporary music. He has played with Klangforum Wien, Ensemble Wiener Collage and PHACE | CONTEMPORARY MUSIC. Thomas has been a frequent substitute at the Vienna Philharmonic since 2002 and has had several contracts at the Vienna State Opera.
As a composer he has been awarded numerous prizes and scholarships. His music has been performed in Europe, New York, Buenos Aires, Hongkong and Tokyo and broadcasted by Radio Ö1, Radio Stephansdom and Radio Orange (Austria), RBB Kulturradio (Germany), RAI Bozen (Italy) and NHK (Japan).
In 2012 he began teaching the “Historical Compositional Techniques” course at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. Since 2019 he teaches the courses “Analysis”, “Satzlehre” and “Ear training” as a senior lecturer as well.
Thomas is co-founder of ensemble LUX.
NORA ROMANOFF-SCHWARZBERG, Viola
Born in New York and raised in Vienna, Nora Romanoff-Schwarzberg continues her family´s musical tradition in the fourth generation. As a violist she is recognized for her captivating charisma and is a regular guest on international stages. Both as a soloist as well as a chamber musician she has performed in prestigious venues and festivals such as the Musikverein and Konzerthaus Vienna, Salle Pleyel in Paris, Progetto Martha Argerich in Lugano, Heidelberg Spring Music Festival, Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, and the Salzburg Festival.
Among her chamber music partners were outstanding musicians such as Mischa Maisky, Gabriela Montero, Renaud Capuçon, Andrey Baranov, Lilya Zilberstein, Lily Maisky, Sergey Nakariakov, Henning Kraggerud, Enrico Dindo, Martha Argerich and Ivry Gitlis.
She is founder and artistic director of the PODIUM festival Mödling in Austria that belongs to the international network of PODIUM festivals. Her CD recordings were released by labels such as Naxos and Gramola, as well as by EMI Classics and Warner Classics as part of the annual series “Martha Argerich and Friends”, which were GRAMMY-nominated several times.
Nora became a member of ensemble LUX in 2013.
MARA ACHLEITNER, Violoncello
Cellist Mara Achleitner was born in Palo Alto, California, and has lived in Vienna, Austria since 2003. She received her Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance in New York City with professors Irene Sharp and Paul Tobias at Mannes College of Music, and her Master of Music from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston with Desmond Hoebig, former principal cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra. During her studies, Mara participated in the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo (Japan), the Aspen Music Festival (USA), and was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Festival (USA). While in Texas, Mara performed in the Houston Symphony Orchestra and held a position in the cello section of the Austin Symphony Orchestra.
After three seasons in the Orchestral Academy of ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Mara was invited to become the cellist of ensemble LUX. Mara is co-founder and cellist of the clarinet quintet Ensemble 5 and a regular guest with the Koehne Quartet, with whom she recently performed in the Dschungel Theater in Vienna's Museums Quartier and in the Albertina Museum. Together with Viennese composer Michael Mautner, Mara created and performed in the Konzett Concept Concerts at the Galerie Konzett in Wien, an interdisciplinary concert series combining modern art and music, including two string quartets by Austrian painter-composer Hermann Nitsch.
As principal cellist, Mara toured extensively with the Vienna Opera Ball Orchestra in Japan and throughout Europe. She has toured Japan five times with the Vienna Volksoper, and played as a member of their cello section for one year. She frequently performs with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and Ensemble Kontrapunkte in the Wiener Musikverein and the Wiener Konzerthaus. She is also a guest at the Stage Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera.
Mara’s performance of Julia Purgina's Lunarium for Solo Violoncello "was outstanding – the composition, characterised by huge leaps and technical challenges, was executed effortlessly." [Music Information Center Austria]
Mara performs on a Joseph Grubaugh & Sigrun Seifert cello made in Petaluma, California in 1998.