About Us

Boston-based Semiosis Quartet, formed in 2014, is quickly gaining a reputation as a dynamic ensemble dedicated to presenting the string quartet repertoire of the 20th and 21st centuries. 

The ensemble’s 2017-18 season is headlined by a concert featuring composers from Central America, South America, and Mexico, part of an ongoing effort to present work by voices traditionally underrepresented in the new music community. They will also perform repertoire by Shih-Hui Chen, Anthony Green, Sofia Gubaidulina, Eric Nathan, Toru Takemitsu, Caroline Shaw, and local composers Steven Snowden and Jason Huffman. Semiosis continually seeks to expand the quartet repertoire, and has commissioned and premiered several works. In 2016 they presented the world premiere of Curtis Hughes’ String Quartet No. 2, and the 2017-18 season includes a commission by Aaron Jay Myers.

Semiosis Quartet was appointed Ensemble-in-Residence at the 2016 Cortona Sessions for New Music in Cortona, Italy. Previously they worked with the JACK Quartet, the Muir Quartet, and composer Joan Tower as part of the Emerging Quartets and Composers program at the Deer Valley Music Festival. Other highlights of past seasons include appearances as part of the Equilibrium Concert Series, the Church of the Advent Library Concert Series, and August Noise JP. Deeply committed to music education, Semiosis has worked closely with student composers, musicians, and faculty at The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Tufts University, and Bowling Green State University.

The quartet’s name refers to a process where a subject uses a message or symbol to communicate. The audience interprets the message to derive meaning. Study of this process crosses the boundaries of linguistics, anthropology, and biological sciences. Likewise, Semiosis Quartet demonstrates how the contemporary string quartet repertoire is a vehicle for a diverse collection of narratives from around the world. 

Nicole Parks

Photo by Marla Parks

Photo by Marla Parks

Originally from Minnesota, Nicole Parks is a Boston based violinist and pedagogue. With a particular passion for contemporary music, she collaborates with a diverse group of performers and living composers to bring new music to a wide range of audiences. Nicole has performed with many ensembles throughout New England and the Midwest. She is a violinist and co-founder of the  Semiosis Quartet, a string quartet that performs exclusively 20th/21st century music with the passion and dedication that it deserves. She was the founder and original artistic director/conductor of The Lirica Chamber Ensemble; an ensemble created to play rarely heard and new works for chamber orchestra. Nicole is currently concertmaster of the Arlington Philharmonic and East Coast Scoring and has held a concertmaster and soloist position with The Linden Hills Chamber Orchestra and the recent production of Madame White Snake presented by Arts Emerson. She plays regularly with Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Odyssey Opera, and The Equilibrium Ensemble and occasionally performs with Guerilla OperaCape Ann Symphony, New Bedford Symphony, Portland Symphony, Atlantic SymphonyThe Metropolitan Symphony and The Northern Symphony Orchestra among others.

Nicole is a member of the American String Teacher's Association and serves on the MA-ASTA board as Secretary. She has held a violin faculty position at The Community Music Center of Boston since 2010, where she teaches violin, viola, and cello, directs the Junior and Preparatory String Ensembles, and has spearheaded the Beginning Strings program, which offers small group classes to 4-6 year olds. Summer performance and education workshops where she has taught include BIMA at Brandeis University, Minnesota All-State Festival, the chamber music festival, Stringwood, and the North Carolina Governor's School, where contemporary thought in all disciplines is encouraged. Nicole holds a BM in violin performance from St. Olaf College, and MM and PSC degrees from The Boston Conservatory where she studied violin performance and pedagogy with Sharan Leventhal.

Contact Nicole at Nicole@SemiosisQuartet.com. To find more about Nicole visit www.nicoleparksviolin.com

Natalie Calma

Photo by Valerie Sanders

Photo by Valerie Sanders

Venezuelan violinist Natalie Calma, currently based in Boston, is an enthusiast of new music and improvisation.  In recent years, Natalie has been involved in a number of contemporary ensembles and festivals, including The Boston Conservatory’s New Music Festival, Boston University’s Center for New Music, Equilibrium Concert Series, and Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Additionally, she is the co-founder of the violin-marimba ensemble Balletik Duo, collaborating with and performing works by Boston composers at local venues. She is also a founding member of the Semiosis Quartet. Mrs. Calma has performed on renowned stages and venues throughout the world, including Jordan Hall, Symphony Hall, Duomo di Siena, and Auditorio Emil Friedman. She teaches violin at the Wellesley Public Schools.  Natalie is also a Big Sister for the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. She holds degrees from the Interlochen Arts Academy, The Boston Conservatory, where she studied with Lynn Chang, and Boston University, where she studied with Dana Mazurkevich.

Contact Natalie at Natalie@SemiosisQuartet.com. For more info visit www.nataliecalma.com

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Kyra Davies

Violinist Kyra Davies is an active chamber and orchestral musician. Devoted to contemporary music, Kyra performs and records regularly with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and is the second violinist of the Semiosis Quartet, a string quartet focused on new music performance. Kyra has also appeared on tour with the mixed quartet Hub New Music, playing venues such as the Outside the Box Festival in Boston, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor, MI. Previously, Kyra was a member of the Britten-Pears Contemporary Ensemble in Aldeburgh, UK, and the Brevard Music Center’s contemporary music ensemble, itch. She appeared as a guest performer with the New England Conservatory Contemporary Ensemble under John Heiss, and as a chamber musician on NEC’s Tuesday Night New Music series. She has collaborated with many of today’s leading composers including David Del Tredici, John Corigliano, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Oliver Knussen, and Colin Matthews.

Kyra also appears with organizations such as the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, North Shore Music Theatre, South Florida Symphony Orchestra, New Hampshire Music Festival, Monadnock Music Festival, Symphony New Hampshire, Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Opera Tampa, and the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra. She has performed at venues including the TD Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods, the Broward Center (Fort Lauderdale, FL), the Church of Sant’Agostino (Siena, Italy), and Snape Maltings (Aldeburgh, UK). She has toured with Il Volo and Josh Groban, and has worked with a wide range of classical, pop, and film music performers including Hans Zimmer, Ramin Djawadi, Chick Corea, Renee Fleming, Itzhak Perlman, and Steven Tyler.

Kyra graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University at age 20. She received orchestral training at summer festivals such as the National Orchestral Institute, National Repertory Orchestra (where she appeared as a soloist in a program of American fiddle tunes), the Siena Music Festival, and the Castleton Festival Orchestra under Lorin Maazel. Kyra undertook additional studies at the Longy School of Music, where she was the inaugural recipient of the Eric Rosenblith Scholarship and concertmaster of the Longy Chamber Orchestra. Her teachers have included Kenneth Goldsmith, Robert Eshbach, Eric Rosenblith, Kazuko Matsusaka, and Ronan Lefkowitz. 

When not performing, Kyra volunteers at Me/2, an orchestra created for people who have directly or indirectly experienced the effects of mental illness. She can also be seen around the Boston area as a Celtic traditional fiddler and singer.

Contact Kyra at Kyra@SemiosisQuartet.com. For more information about Kyra visit www.kyradavies.com

Lauren Nelson

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Violist Lauren Nelson appears as a chamber and orchestral musician on both modern and baroque viola both throughout the U.S. and internationally. She currently resides in Boston where she can be regularly seen with Boston Baroque, Handel and Haydn Society, Grand Harmonie and Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra on her historical viola. She also performs with BMOP, Emmanuel Music, Odyssey Opera, Unitas Ensemble, and Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, and especially enjoys programing interesting and exciting chamber music concerts with delicious hor’d’oeuvres and drinks.

Over the years, Lauren has been a regular artist at the Lake George Music Festival, where she has collaborated with Andy Akiho, Philip Ying and Brendan Faegre. She has also worked extensively with members from the Juilliard, Brentano, Borromeo, Ying, Emerson and Apple Hill Quartets as well as performed in Jordan Hall, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center and abroad.

Lauren believes that music has the power to reach everyone. Growing up in rural New Hampshire, she was a regular participant at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music where she learned how chamber music has the power to create lasting relationships between people from disparate backgrounds. Nowadays, she’s building a career that combines performing, teaching and social action to make an impact on her community. 

Lauren studied viola with Roger Tapping at the New England Conservatory, where she received a Graduate Diploma. She has a Master’s Degree from the University of Kentucky and a Bachelor’s Degree from the Eastman School of Music under the tutelage of Deborah Lander and John Graham, respectively.

In her free time she enjoys hanging out with her cats, cooking, running, yoga and photography.

Contact Lauren at Lauren@SemiosisQuartet.com. For more about Lauren visit www.laurennel.com

ALlison Drenkow

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Cellist Allison Drenkow is an impassioned performer heralded by the Boston Globe as having “streamed through the spectrum of human emotions”. From “lyric melancholy” to a “tremble and roar”, press have praised Allison for the expansive dimension of her tone. Performing as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral player, and studio cellist alike, Allison is a versatile talent. 

Currently based in Boston, MA, Allison can be heard performing up and down the East Coast as Principal Cellist and fellowship recipient of Symphony Nova, member of the Atlantic Symphony, and in concert with the Hartford Symphony, Cape Symphony, Boston Chamber Symphony, Phoenix Orchestra, and Boston Philharmonic. In recent years Allison has been invited to perform as a guest soloist in the “Boston Bach Birthday” concert series and has been featured as the principal cellist in a commission project for the American Opera Projects. Passionate about the transformative power of music, Allison has been honored to perform at Carnegie Hall with Music for Life International, an orchestra made up of principal players from major orchestras around the world brought together to support a relevant humanitarian effort. 

Allison has been featured in numerous publications including the Boston Globe, Boston Musical Intelligencer, WQXR’s Q2 in New York, and Ongaku Gendai (“Music Today”) Magazine in Japan. An active chamber musician, she has been a member of various string quartets and contemporary music ensembles including Hub New Music Ensemble, the Nova String Quartet, and New England Conservatory Contemporary Ensembles. In her travels, Allison has studied intensively and given solo performances at the Heifetz International Music Festival, Académie du Domaine Forget in Quebec, and Banff Arts Center in the Canadian Rockies. She has had the honor of performing as a soloist in public masterclasses for Lynn Harrell, Phillipe Muller, Colin Carr, Raphael Wallfisch, Andrés Diaz, Robert DeMaine (Principal, LA Philharmonic), and Yumi Kendall (Associate Principal, Philadelphia Orchestra) among others. Allison has also had the opportunity to work directly with the Juilliard, Emerson, Takacs, Borromeo, Brentan, St. Lawrence, Biava, and Vienna Musikverein String Quartets.

With great fervor for the orchestral tradition and repertoire, Allison has held Principal positions with the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra (Japan), National Festival Orchestra (USA), Atlantic Symphony, Symphony Nova, Occasional Symphony Orchestra, and New England Conservatory Chamber Orchestra. She has also held Principal positions and performed as a fellowship recipient with the Banff Festival Orchestra, as well as the Texas Music Festival Orchestra. Amid her experiences, she has had the honor of performing alongside principal and section cellists of the Vienna Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Allison has performed under the batons of renowned artists including Valery Gergiev, Lion Fleisher, John Axelrod, Asher Fisch, Mei Ann Chen, Lior Shambadal, Johannes Debus, Alan Pierson, Carlos Spierer, and Hugh Wolff. In the summer of 2017, Allison will be performing in Germany and surrounding countries with the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival Orchestra under Christoph Eschenbach. 

Outside of performing, Allison is also an active teacher. She has taught as an assistant chamber coach in the Peabody Preparatory program and currently in Boston she serves as a teacher and mentor for the Boston String Academy and Roxbury Youth Orchestra. In another capacity, Allison strives to encourage and enable young classical musicians in her role as a member of the Scholarship & Admissions team for National Public Radio’s, “From the Top”.

Allison Drenkow holds a Master of Music degree in Cello Performance from New England Conservatory and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Her principal teachers include Alan Stepansky and Natasha Brofsky.

Contact Allison at Allison@SemiosisQuartet.com. See her website at www.allisondrenkow.com for more information about her!