The dynamic group of women that form Kassia Ensemble strives for more inclusive gender and racial representation in the world of chamber music. The Ensemble achieves this by promoting women’s entrepreneurship and leadership in the arts, collaborating with artists of all genres and performing music by composers of all genders as well as diverse ethnicities.
Based in the Pittsburgh area, its members hold positions in the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet orchestras, the West Virginia Symphony, the Wheeling Symphony, and the Erie Philharmonic. The seven member ensemble is composed of the traditional string quartet, double bass, clarinet, and harp. This unique instrumentation allows for quite a bit of variety in programming. Concerts range from charming duos such as Andrea Clearfield’s Three Songs for Violin and Double Bass and Shulamit Ran’s Private Games for Clarinet and Cello to larger scale works like Andre Caplet’s Conte Fantastique.
The talents and mission of Kassia have also been put to use in the recording studio. The ensemble is featured alongside the critically acclaimed group Kinetic on the album Songs of Lake Volta, a song cycle based on Ghanaian folk tunes written by local composer Joe Sheehan. The Ensemble also collaborated on the recently released album Rêverie, featuring critically acclaimed trumpeter Mary Elizabeth Bowden. Both albums were named top ten classical albums in 2018 and 2019 by Textura Magazine. Kassia Ensemble can also frequently be heard on WQED FM, Pittsburgh’s classical music radio station.
The ensemble particularly enjoys collaborating with mixed media artists. Internationally admired Fran Ledonio Flaherty has worked closely with the group, curating shows that highlight local female artists to pair with concert programs. In 2018, a few members of the ensemble participated in the Cultural Trust’s large scale production of Manifold, a world premiere by composer Wang Lu and visual artist Filip Roca as a kickoff to Pittsburgh’s Festival of Firsts. In September 2019, the ensemble spent a week in Southern Oregon as artist-in-residence of Britt Festival where they visited several local schools, worked directly with students and performed concerts, culminating the week with a public community concert at Southern Oregon University.
Through imaginative and collaborative programming, the Kassia Ensemble continues to pursue projects that build a platform for racial and gender equality in the arts.
Visit their website to learn more: https://www.kassiaensemble.com