Koehne Quartet

In our country, it is not only the composers that contribute to contemporary music, but also orchestras and ensembles performing in local and international concert venues. In this sense, Austria is in a fortunate position and offers many internationally renowned ensembles in contemporary music. One of these outstanding ensembles was founded in 1987 by violinist Joanna Lewis and named the Koehne Quartet.

Meanwhile, the four-member ensemble has made a name for itself and  is one of the most significant ensembles in Central Europe. Concert tours have taken the quartet to the most important international festivals of contemporary music. Guest performances in Europe, Australia and South Africa clearly demonstrate their high reputation in the world of contemporary music. But what is it that really distinguishes this ensemble from others? It is certainly due to the enormously broad repertoire, which expands from classical composers to works of the 20th and 21st century. Furthermore, the four instrumentalists Joanna Lewis (violin), Anne Harvey Nagl (violin), Petra Ackermann (viola) and Melissa Coleman (cello) dedicate themselves with joy to pieces from the field of experimental jazz and free improvisation.

In addition to the undisputed playful virtuosity, it is primarily the extremely strong musical understanding, which distinguishes the four ladies. A benefit for the Koehne Quartet is particularly their working principles that were taught to the four instrumentalists in the context of master classes with Günter Pichlert (Alban Berg Quartet), the Amadeus and the Brodsky Quartet, Hatto Beyerle and György Kurtag. It is all about working closely with the composers and in this way to interpret their works as authentic as possible. This is what the Koehne Quartet has practiced to perfection.

The ensemble started in 1987 with the interpretation of works by the renowned and perhaps most multi-faceted composer Graeme Koehne from Australia. Hence the name of the quartet. In consequence, it was in particular the impressive interpretations of works by Austrian composers like Friedrich Cerha, Kurt Schwertsik, Francis Burt, Thomas Pernes, Gerd Kühr, Thomas Larcher and Wolfgang Liebhart that stood out.

The self-understanding of the musicians is to look beyond the obvious and to try something new. It is therefore not a big surprise that Joanna Lewis, Anne Harvey Nagl, Petra Ackermann and Melissa Coleman also set the right tones in other musical areas, such as jazz and world music. The quartet can look back on numerous successful collaborations with internationally renowned artists such as Dave Liebman, Wayne Horvitz, Peter Herbert, Anthony Braxton, George Graewe, Max Nagl, Otto Lechner, Marcel Khalife, Marwan Abado or Dhafer Youssef.

This year the ensemble was bestowed with a special honour. For their outstanding interpretations of works by Austrian composers, the Koehne Quartet was invited to perform three concerts at the EXPO 2010 in Shanghai (24th, 26th, & 27th of June 2010).