A group of gifted musicians embrace the transcendental power of music with a collaboration infused with the global reach of both gospel and sacred music. Renowned jazz master Cyrus Chestnut joins the Grammy-winning Turtle Island Quartet for a performance at the Moss Arts Center on Friday, April 12, at 7:30 p.m.

The performance will be held in the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.

The Turtle Island Quartet has been a singular force in the creation of bold new trends in chamber music for strings, while Chestnut is a musician who fuses his performances with classical, spiritual, and jazz flavors. Together, they traverse the myriad colors of jazz and beyond, with inspiration from a variety of sources – from the Appalachian Mountains to the spiritually defined musical landscape of Bach.

Dipping into the rhythms of world cultures, the evening performance will include music from Duke Ellington, Bill Monroe, Bill Withers, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Bach, and more.

Winner of the 2006 and 2008 Grammy Awards for Best Classical Crossover, Turtle Island fuses the classical quartet esthetic with contemporary American musical styles, including forays into folk, bluegrass, swing, be-bop, funk, rhythm and blues, new age, rock, and hip-hop, as well as music from Latin America and India.

The ensemble has created over a dozen recordings, as well as soundtracks for major motion pictures, and has appeared on national television and radio programs, including the “Today” show, “All Things Considered,” “A Prairie Home Companion,” and “Morning Edition.” 

Members of the Turtle Island Quartet pose outside with their instruments.
Turtle Island Quartet

The quartet has collaborated with famed artists such as clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera; vibraphonist Stefon Harris; guitar legends Leo Kottke and the Assad brothers; the Manhattan Transfer; pianists Billy Taylor, Kenny Barron, and Ramsey Lewis; singers Tierney Sutton and Nellie McKay; the Ying Quartet; and the Parsons and Luna Negra dance companies.

A respected and widely celebrated pianist, Chestnut has played at premier venues and festivals around the world, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Montreux Jazz Festival, the North Sea Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the New Orleans Jazz Fest.

With more than a dozen studio albums in his discography, Chestnut experiments with his familiar integration of jazz, spiritual, and classical sounds that reflect his heritage and identity as an artist, which is particularly evident in his work as music director with the legendary Kathleen Battle on the albums “So Many Stars” and “Underground Railroad.”

Recently appointed to the faculty at the prestigious Howard University Department of Music, Chestnut continues to honor the legacy of education and mentorship by offering lectures on jazz piano and improvisation to the next generation of musical artists.

This performance is supported in part by gifts from the Merryman family and David A. West and Lindsey B. West.

Related events

Prior to the performance by the Turtle Island Quartet with Cyrus Chestnut, the Highlands Jazz Quartet will play selections from the standard repertoire in the Moss Arts Center Cube. The lineup for this performance features Lou Madsen on saxophone, Paul Deck on piano, Justin Craig on bass, and Bill Ray on drums.


Tickets are $20-45 for general audience and $10 for students and youth 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

While Virginia Tech students can always attend any Moss Arts Center performance for only $10, the center also offers free last minute rush tickets for students who sign up for text notifications. To receive these notifications, text “arts” to 31996. Availability of rush tickets varies by performance and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last in the box office. Virginia Tech ID will be required for admission.

Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Kacy McAllister at 540-231-5300 or email kmcallis@vt.edu during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to an event.

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