Carmel High School graduate returns to play with Harlem Quartet


This concert will be a homecoming for cellist Felix Umansky.

The 2004 Carmel High School graduate will be making his first appearance with the Harlem Quartet in the Indianapolis area since he joined in the spring of 2015.

“I can’t wait to be back in my hometown to see and perform for all of these people I know and love,” said Umansky, whose parents, Konstantin and Polina, still live in Carmel.

Umansky will appear with the Harlem Quartet with Cuban pianist/composer Aldo Lopez-Gavilan at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Glick Indiana History Center in Indianapolis. The concert is part of the Ensemble Music Society of Indianapolis series. Lopez-Gavilan is the younger brother of Harlem Quartet first violinist Ilmar Gavilan, who is originally from Cuba.

The Harlem Quartet formed in 2006 and was put together by the Sphinx organization. Sphinx sponsors a national competition every year, primarily for Latino and Black students. The group was originally made up of four first-prize winners of that competition.

Umansky said the quartet still has a relationship with Sphinx but is not directly managed by it anymore. The two violinists have been with the quartet from the start.

“The repertoire that we play and the program we curate is still as diverse as it was in 2006,” Umansky said. “We program not only standard classical music, but we do quite a bit of contemporary music. We do a lot of jazz, Latin and Afro Cuban tunes in our concerts.”

Umansky said the quartet members all teach privately or at a university. This year, the group became the quartet-in-residence at Montclair State University in New Jersey. It also been the quartet-in-residence at the Royal College of Music in London. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the group’s work in London has been virtual.

“When we were going there in person, it was two to three times a year,” Umansky said.

Umansky said the concerts have returned to nearly normal since the start of the summer.

“Over 90 percent of our concerts last season were postponed or canceled altogether,” Umansky said. “We did a lot of virtual work with students or performances, record or livestream.”

Prior to joining the Harlem Quartet, Urmansky was a founding member of the Cleveland-based Linden Quartet. The group performed together for six years.

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