Damask, a vocal quartet based in the Netherlands, unites musicians of four nationalities: American 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.
Damask has been featured in festivals and series in the Netherlands (Muziek in het Zevenbruggenkwartier, Ouderkerk Muzikale Herfst, Westerkerk's cantata series, Operadagen Rotterdam, Noorderkerk Concerten) and Germany (Internationales Kammermusikfest Ruhrtal) and in concert venues in France (Paris, Dieppe and Colmar), the United States (New York), and England (Salisbury). In 2017 the quartet featured as ensemble-in-residence at the prestigious 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!