Ford Fourqurean (clarinet), Matheus Souza (violin), Issei Herr (cello), and Daniel Anastasio (piano) form the core of Unheard-of//Ensemble, a contemporary chamber ensemble dedicated to connecting communities across the United States through the development and performance of new music across the country.
Based in New York City, the group is committed to the idea that new music belongs in every community, and implements this mission through extensive touring and outreach to connect with audiences and young artists, focusing specifically on bringing new music to locations out of the reach of many new music organizations.
Unheard-of//Ensemble’s 2019-2020 Season features more than 15 concerts, including a residency at Cornell University, performances as part of Alia Musica Pittsburgh’s series, collaborating with ICEBERG Collective, and their second Texas tour visiting Tarleton State University, Texas Lutheran University, and San Antonio College. They continue their yearly commissioning initiative with premieres by Julie Zhu, Matthew Barnson, Dennis Sullivan, Krists Auznieks, James Diaz, and Lisa Atkinson. Programs also feature Ursula Mamlok's Confluences and Five Bagatelles, two works that are rarely performed in the United States, with support from the Dwight and Ursula Mamlok Foundation. In June, they join forces with Composers Concordance to perform their unique call for scores focusing on composers under 25 and over 65.
Their debut album Unheard-of//Dialogues was released last season to critical acclaim, being called “a fantastic debut by a group that has been doing more than their part to inject vitality into the new music scene for the last few years” (Jeremy Shatan, An Earful). The album’s eclectic repertoire has garnered the attention of critics from ArtsATL (“Powerfully evocative”), Steve Smith of National Sawdust Log (“scintillating and evocative”), and Creative Loafing Atlanta (“mellifluous magic”).
Past seasons included over 80 premieres performed as part of their touring presenting performances, workshops, and master classes at universities and colleges across the United States, including workshops with the Manhattan School of Music Composition Studio and University of Texas- Arlington, Georgia State University, a guest residency at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and performances at the Art Institute of Chicago, PianoForte (Chicago), the Johnstone Fund series at Short North Stage (Columbus, OH), the Applause New Music Concert Series (Texas), Miami University (OH), the University of Louisville, Columbus State University, Marywood University (PA), University of Alabama- Birmingham, University of Tennessee- Chattanooga, Chattanooga State Community College and others, as well as radio features on 89.3 Montreal, 90.1 WUSB, WKCR, and Clarinet Corner.
Unheard-of has received support from the Johnstone Fund for New Music, Dwight and Ursula Mamlok Foundation, Tennessee Arts Commission, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and New York Women Composers. Unheard-of is a recipient of a Chamber Music America Ensemble Forward Grant made possible with support of the New York Community Trust.
As both performers and educators, the ensemble mentors and collaborates with students, not only focusing on performance, but also the entrepreneurial aspects of being a professional musician in the 21st century. In this vein, Unheard-of has guest lectured across the United States as well as part of a Manhattan School of Music Distance Learning event speaking with students from the Sibelius Academy. This July, Unheard-of presents their third Collaborative Composition Initiative Workshop at Georgia State University.
Ford Fourqurean strives to bring together communities through contemporary music. He is in demand as both a freelancer and as a guest artist and clinician at universities and institutions throughout the United States. He serves as artistic director of Unheard-of//Ensemble along with many other projects connecting contemporary music with diverse audiences.
Ford regularly performs across New York City at venues ranging from National Sawdust, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, Roulette, and Spectrum to DIY spaces and house concerts. During the 2019-20 season, he is performing guest artist workshops with Unheard-of//Ensemble at Cornell, collaborating with ICEBERG composers collective, performing in Pittsburgh as part of Alia Musica Pittsburgh’s concert series, and touring Texas.
He currently serves as Executive Director of the Collaborative Composition Workshop hosted at Stony Brook University, overseeing all aspects of the festival as well as being ensemble faculty with Unheard-of.
Ford is a member of Amalgama and one half of Spark Duo with trumpeter Kate Amrine. As a freelancer, he has worked with contemporary groups of all styles. This season, he performed in Seoul, South Korea with ensemble mise-en as part of Arts Incubator’s Audio Trading Manual 2019. He toured the Midwest in 2018 with Tenth Intervention visiting Denison University, Alia Musica Pittsburgh’s Contemporary Festival, and the Johnstone series in Columbus, Ohio. In past seasons, he has worked with Little Orchestra Society, Fresh Squeezed Opera, Curiosity Cabinet (guest residency at Queens College), and the Uptown Philharmonic.
Matheus Souza is a Brazilian violinist, instructor and conductor with an eclectic musical background. His early interest in Brazilian popular music, also known as Choro, gave him tools to go beyond the strict classical training imposed in most violinists. Mr. Souza had the privilege to collaborate with masters of the genre, such as Joel Nascimento, Jaime Vignoli, Luiz Otávio Braga, and Oscar Bolão. In addition to his training in Brazilian music, Mr. Souza participated in music festivals including the Varna International Music Festival, and the Campos do Jordão Winter Festival, where he collaborated with world-renowned artists such as Kurt Masur, Alex Klein, and Antônio Meneses.
Mr. Souza received a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music, where he collaborated with illustrious figures including Krzysztof Penderecki, Peter Oundjian, Robert Mealy, and Peter Frankl. Upon graduation, Mr. Souza was the first recipient of the Malcolm L. Mitchell and Donald M. Roberts Class of 1957 award for his excellence in teaching and conducting in the Music in Schools program.
In 2018, Mr. Souza received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Stony Brook University. During the last calendar year, Mr. Souza performed in over 160 different occasions, including concerts at the United Nations in New York City, touring Japan with the New York Symphonic Ensemble, soloing in Brazil with the Londrina State University Symphony Orchestra, and recording soundtracks in the United States for franchises such as Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Mortal Kombat. In addition to his performances and recordings, Mr. Souza has given workshops and masterclasses in nine different states in the U.S., as well as in Japan and Brazil.
Cellist Issei Herr is committed to a diverse array of music both old and new, with a repertoire that ranges from the music of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Babbitt to works by Schubert, Schumann, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky. Past highlights include concerts in Mexico and New York with violinist Rolf Schulte featuring the music of Milton Babbitt, recital programs centered on the works of Robert Schumann, and a recording of the complete cello suites of Johann Sebastian Bach.
An advocate for the music of our time, Issei has worked closely with composers such as Mario Davidovsky and Kaija Saariaho, and has premiered works by Eric Nathan, Roberto Sierra, and Kenji Sakai, among others. In 2016, he performed the New York premiere of Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky’s Hearing Solution with Joel Sachs and the New Juilliard Ensemble. He has performed as a member of the Orchestra of the League of Composers, AXIOM, and the New Juilliard Ensemble, working with musicians such as Thomas Adès, Daniel Barenboim, David Fulmer, Louis Karchin, Fred Lerdahl, Vasco Mendonça, Jeffrey Milarsky, Shulamit Ran, Chou Wen-chung, and Du Yun.
In the summer of 2017, Issei attended the Lucerne Festival Academy, performing as a member and principal cellist of the Academy Orchestra under the batons of Heinz Holliger and Matthias Pintscher. In 2016, Issei was a fellow at the inaugural Contemporary Performance Institute of the Composers Conference at Wellesley College, where he studied and performed seminal works by Schoenberg, Webern, Babbitt, Davidovsky, and Wuorinen, among others. He has also participated in the London Masterclasses, where he worked with cellist Ralph Kirshbaum.
Born into an artistic family, Issei began musical studies at the age of five. He earned his BM degrees at The Juilliard School where he was a student of cellist Fred Sherry.
Daniel Anastasio’s playing has been described as “big, gregarious, stylish, rhythmically alert, and technically assured all around” (Mike Greenberg, Incident Light). He has participated in many music festivals, including Yellow Barn Musical Festival, Tanglewood, Kneisel Hall, Music Academy of the West, and Juilliard’s Focus! Festival.
Mr. Anastasio attended Cornell University (under Xak Bjerken), where he received a Bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in both Music and Philosophy. As a Cornell senior, he performed Beethoven's 3rd piano concerto with the Ithaca College Chamber Orchestra under the baton of renowned pianist and conductor Leon Fleisher.
He continued his musical studies at Juilliard, receiving his Master of Music degree under Jerome Lowenthal. At Juilliard, Daniel was a finalist in the 2012 piano concerto competition, and received the school’s Mieczyslaw Munz scholarship for his playing. He received chamber music coachings from Seymour Lipkin, Samuel Rhodes, Joel Krosnick, and Sylvia Rosenberg, among others. For a year after his Masters, Daniel was privileged to study privately with Ann Schein.
Mr. Anastasio is currently piano faculty at San Antonio College. He completed his doctorate at Stony Brook University, studying under Gilbert Kalish and Christina Dahl.