Damask, a vocal quartet based in the Netherlands, unites four musicians of five nationalities: American-Dutch soprano Katharine Dain, French mezzo-soprano Marine Fribourg, English tenor Guy Cutting, and Canadian baritone Drew Santini. Since 2014, Damask has been giving voice to the stunning but neglected repertoire for vocal quartet, from the piano-accompanied chamber works of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Haydn to music of the 20th and 21st centuries (a cappella and with various instruments) by Milhaud, Messiaen, Stravinsky, Schönberg, Ned Rorem, and David Lang, among others. Equally important to Damask's mission is the broadening and enrichment of the repertoire through regular commissions of new works written for the quartet's unique beauty, unity, and versatility of sound, such as Federico Mosquera's new chamber opera "Cargamento de Sueños" which premiered in The Hague in October 2017.
In late 2018 Damask will release its first full album, titled "O Schöne Nacht," featuring luscious 19th-century quartets of Brahms, Herzogenberg, and Jenner recorded with pianist Flore Merlin on a Streicher piano original to the period. The recording is a collaboration with award-winning producer Frerik de Jong of 7 Mountain Records.
Damask has performed in festivals and series in the Netherlands (Dutch National Opera's lunch concert series, Noorderkerk Concerten, Operadagen Rotterdam, Oudewaterse Kamermuziekdagen, Muziek in het Zevenbruggenkwartier, Ouderkerk Muzikale Herfst, Westerkerk's cantata series) and Germany (Internationales Kammermusikfest Ruhrtal) and in concert venues in France (Paris, Dieppe and Colmar), the United States (New York), and England (Snape and Salisbury). In 2017 the quartet featured as ensemble-in-residence at the Maltings, home of the Aldeburgh Festival, where it benefited from an intensive working period with pianist Roger Vignoles. Damask's focus on commissioning has led to close collaborations with other ensembles, including Oerknal! New Music Collective and New Vintage Baroque, that have resulted in major new works by Gregory Spears, Reiko Füting, and Lewis Nielson.
The name Damask refers to a luxurious woven textile motif developed in 14th-century Damascus (now present-day Syria), a vibrant meeting point of several major international trade routes where materials, ideas, cultures, and art/design practices were freely exchanged. The resulting damask motif, still in use today, is a fitting metaphor for the ensemble, which weaves together different repertoires, cultural traditions, and musical personalities into a strong and beautiful whole.
We are super excited for our upcoming recording this summer!