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"Flamboyant vitality . . . expert performances.” —Chicago Tribune (John von Rhein) 

"Great musicianship and sophistication . . . lyrically and rhythmically passionate . . . a unique and captivating sound that thrills the audience.” —Luciano Pedota, Ravinia Festival 


The Black Oak Ensemble took root in 2011 when they performed for a standing-room-only audience on Chicago’s prestigious Music in the Loft Series. Since then, the ensemble has performed for the Stradivari Society and appeared at the Chicago Cultural Center, Art Institute of Chicago, Mayne Stage, WFMT Radio, Windy City Live, and the Latino Music Festival. The ensemble was featured on a Ravinia Festival tour from Barcelona to Monte Carlo, and in summer 2016 they toured France, with concerts in Paris, Toulouse, and other cities. 

The ensemble was named for the black oak, a beautiful tree native to their home state of Illinois (one stands in the front yard of Desirée Ruhstrat and David Cunliffe). 

Desirée Ruhstrat and David Cunliffe are both founding members of the Lincoln Trio, which was nominated for a 2017 GRAMMY Award for best performance by a small ensemble. 

Aurelien Pederzoli was a founding member of the Spektral Quartet and the Anaphora ensemble. He has performed extensively in Europe and the U.S., including performances at the Verbier Festival, and under conductors Pierre Boulez, Kent Nagano, Daniel Barenboim, Valery Gergiev, Alan Gilbert, and Lorin Maazel.