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ABOUT ||  short bio   individual bios:  ruhstrat :: cunliffe :: aznavoorian

The Lincoln Trio

Described by STRAD Magazine as “Sensational” “Bewitching” and “Models of vibrancy and control” (GRAMOPHONE Magazine) , the celebrated GRAMMY nominated Chicago-based Lincoln Trio—made up of Desirée Ruhstrat, violin, David Cunliffe, cello, and Marta Aznavoorian, piano—takes its name from their home, the heartland of the United States, the land of Lincoln. 

The trio, formed in 2003 has been praised for its polished presentations of well-known chamber works and its ability to forge new paths with contemporary repertoire. The group's reputation as a first-rate ensemble draws an eclectic audience of sophisticated music lovers, young admirers of contemporary programs and students discovering chamber music for the first time.


Bringing together performing experience spanning the globe, each member is an artist of international renown. Violinist Desirée Ruhstrat has performed throughout the US and Europe, appearing at the White House and performing on live radio broadcast heard around the world with the Berlin Radio Orchestra; cellist David Cunliffe has performed with the BBC and Royal Scottish orchestras as well as touring as a member of the Balanescu Quartet; pianist Marta Aznavoorian has garnered critical acclaim for her engagements with orchestras and concert halls worldwide including Chicago Symphony Center, John F, Kennedy Center and the Sydney Opera House.

The trio has performed throughout the United States, including appearances at Carnegie's Weil Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Bryant Park Festival, Ravinia Festival, Green Center, Barge Music, Poisson Rouge, the Indianapolis Symphony Beethoven Chamber Music Series, University of Chicago, Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series and in Springfield, Illinois, where the trio was chosen to celebrate the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial celebration with President Barack Obama.

International engagements include performances throughout Europe, Asia and South America.


Champions of new music, the Lincoln Trio has performed numerous compositions written especially for them, including premieres of seven Trio’s by members of the Chicago Composers Consortium, an award winning work dedicated to the trio by young ASCAP winner Conrad Tao, Chamber Music America Award commission with composer Laura Elise Schwendinger and works by Stacy Garrop, Mischa Zupko, Janice Misurell-Mitchell, Ravinia commissioned works for the Lincoln Bicentennial by James Crowley, Eric Sawyer and Lawrence Dillon and most recently a commission from Colombia, South America, for a Trio by the reknowned composer Juan -Antonio Cuellar. They recently worked on a new piano trio,by Daniel Binelli the celebrated Argentine composer and bandoneónist.

Valuing the importance of cultural diversity in music, the trio are strong supporters of the Chinese Fine Arts Society and the Korean Sejong Cultural Society which has commissioned three works based on Korean themes to be premiered at the University of Chicago and recorded by the Lincoln Trio in 2013.

The Trios extensive discography for the Cedille label includes the entire works for Strings and Piano by Joaquin Turina and their debut album "Notable Women”, which features Grammy and Pulitzer prize winning composer Jennifer Higdon, Joan Tower, Lera Auerbach, Stacy Garrop, Augusta Read Thomas and Laura Schwendinger. Their CD's have received numerous accolades including NAXOS CD of the Month, Baker and Taylor CD Hotlist, Byzantion Recording of the month, TPR Classical Spotlighted album, WQXR/Q2 Music Album of the week, UK Observer Hidden Gems and was listed on Alex Ross of the New Yorker Magazine “Nightafternight playlist for summer's end” and Fanfare magazine “Want List” Other releases on the Cedille label include "Composers In the Loft", "In Eleanors Words: Music of Stacy Garrop" and "The Billy Collins Suite". August 2016 saw the release of their latest CD “Trio’s From Our Homelands” featuring the works of Rebecca Clarke, Arno Babajanian and Frank Martin. The CD was nominated for a 2017 Grammy in the Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance Category.


2013 saw the critically acclaimed and GRAMMY nominated release on the NAXOS label of "Annelies" based on the Diary of Anne Frank with Westminster Williamson Voices, Clarinetist Bharat Chandra and soprano Arianna Zukerman. The Midwest premiere was given at the Ravinia Festival in February 2013 with the Chicago Children's Choir and was the featured concluding event of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum's 20th Anniversary Tour of the United States in Chicago at the Harris Theatre. In 2017 the trio performed throughout the US and Canada and travelled to Germany and South America where they toured throughout Colombia and Ecuador performing Beethoven's Triple Concerto.

Winners of the 2008 Master Players International Competition in Venice, Italy and recipients of the 2011 prestigious Young Performers Career Advancement Award, they are also staunch proponents of music education. The Lincoln Trio has had residencies at the Music Institute of Chicago as well as San Francisco State University, University of Wisconsin Madison, and SUNY Fredonia and are currently visiting artists-in-residence at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and are Artists-In-Residence at the MERIT School of Music in Chicago.

During the Pandemic the Trio has been busy recording two albums for the Cedille Label. “Trios from the City of Big Shoulders” was released in 2021 featuring the works of Chicago composers Leo Sowerby and Ernst Bacon. In June of 2022 they will released the companion album “Trios form Contemporary Chicago” which features five of Chicago's most celebrated composers.

The Lincoln Trio recently performed two piano trios by the British composer Colin Mathews at the University of Cincinatti College Conservatory of Music where the Trio was announced as the official jurors for the 2023 Zemlinsky Composition Prize.


The upcoming season will see the Trio perform throughout the United States including their 14th consecutive appearance at the RAVINIA Festival. 

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