Esplanade Presents


Tana Quartet performs Philip Glass' “King Lear”


27 Oct 2022, Thu, 7.30pm

1hr 45mins

(Intermission: 1 x 15mins)

Esplanade Recital Studio

This event is over.

Photo credit: © Nathalie Gabay
Photo by © Nathalie Gabay
When Philip Glass was asked to compose incidental music for a Broadway production of King Lear in 2019, he immediately knew he wanted to write for the string quartet: “I know how to write for string quartet. I love its range of emotion.” This concert version of the play’s score is his ninth work for string quartet, a medium he employs to great effect to depict the tumult, violence and despair at the heart of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy.


To capture the world of King Lear in music, Glass immersed himself in the historical background that may have influenced its conception: “I began picturing what it must have been like to see this piece for the first time in 1606. The Gunpowder Plot (a failed attempt to assassinate King James I of England) had happened only months before, in November, and the theatres were closed until the spring. If the insurrectionists had had their way, the whole government, including the king, would have all gone down. That was an astonishing event to happen in England, and it tore the country apart in many ways. The idea that part of the population would try to take down the government–it was shocking.”


For the original Broadway production, Glass spent weeks observing the actors in rehearsal, absorbing the play during the day and composing in the evenings. In this concert version, the stark dramatic landscape unfolds through Glass’s characteristic repetitive structures, oscillating harmonies and gently sawing rhythms, punctuated by icy textures heralding the monumental storm to come.


Completing the programme are Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte and Schubert’s famous string quartet Death and the Maiden.




Caroline Shaw: Entr’acte


Philip Glass: String Quartet No. 9, King Lear (Singapore premiere)


Franz Schubert: String Quartet No. 14, Der Tod Und das Mädchen

Violist Julie Michael will be replaced by Takumi Nozawa.
Admission Age:
6 and above
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Artist Information

Tana Quartet

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Hailed as “impeccable players” (The Guardian), the Tana Quartet approaches music of different eras and aesthetics with equal intensity, creating a new tradition that links past and future. Tana has appeared at prestigious festivals and concert series worldwide, including Philharmonie de Paris, Barcelona’s Palau de la Musica, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Villa Medicis in Rome, Darmstadt and Wigmore Hall. The quartet has been honoured with numerous awards such as the Union Composers’ Fuga Prize, and Octaves de la Musique for contemporary music, the Coup de Coeur of the Charles Clos Academy and an HSBC Award at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.


Since its founding in 2010, Tana has been committed to promoting contemporary music in all its diversity and seeking out collaborations with composers. The quartet has consistently acted as a champion of new works, having premiered over 250 pieces by leading composers such as Ivan Fedele, Philippe Hurel and Hèctor Parra; they have been crucial advocates for the saturist movement, working closely with Franck Bedrossian, Raphaël Cendo and Yann Robin, whose works are featured on their album Shadows. The quartet has released 13 albums, including Philip Glass’ complete works for string quartet, recognized by Classica magazine as a “best album of 2018”; and most recently, Bleu Ébène, featuring the complete string quartets of David Achenberg.


Tana’s devotion to collaborations extends to research, including partnerships with IRCAM Paris, Grame Lyon, GMEM Marseille, ArtZoyd and Centre Henri Pousseur. The quartet co-designed hybrid electroacoustic instruments in collaboration with composer Juan Gonzalo Arroyo, a ground-breaking contribution to electronic music. Their album Volts, featuring new works for these instruments, was acclaimed as marking “a landmark in the history of the quartet genre” (


Dedicated to education, the Tana Quartet is regularly invited to give masterclasses at institutions such as the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris, University of California Berkeley and Shanghai Conservatory. In 2018 they co-founded ARCO, an annual contemporary music academy for young composers and performers, in partnership with the Salzburg Mozarteum, GMEM, Ensemble Multilatérale and Les Métaboles.


Tana believes in extending and equalising the reach of the arts. The quartet has designed two outreach programmes to deliver engaging musical experiences to new audiences: Music Far and Wide brings the quartet into atypical venues, from supermarkets to hospitals; and One-Day Orchestra gives participants of all ages the opportunity to immerse themselves in the creative process.


The Tana Quartet is composed of:

  • Antoine Maisonhaute, founding violinist
  • Ivan Lebrun, violinist
  • Julie Michael, violist
  • Jeanne Maisonhaute, cellist.

Date & Time

27 Oct 2022, Thu


Esplanade Recital Studio
Tickets & Prices

Students, NSFs, Seniors & PWDs

Price $40 $32

Esplanade&Me Specials

13 Sep onwards
(Applicable to Standard tickets only, limited)

Black: 15% savings 
White: 10% savings  
Discover: 10% savings (min. 2 tickets)

Tote Board Arts Grant

All Primary, Secondary Schools, Junior Colleges/ Centralised Institute & ITEs may use the Tote Board Arts Grant to subsidise up to 50% of the programme cost.

For more details, please contact Esplanade Box Office at 6828 8389 or email


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