Thus, the Night is a short film inspired by French composer Henri Dutilleux’s seminal work for string quartet written in 1976, Ainsi la Nuit. One of the final projects produced by and featuring three-time Grammy-nominated Spektral Quartet, the film was developed in collaboration with visual artist Antonia Contro, and film production company Four/Ten Media. In Thus, the Night, the collaborative team strove to reflect the composer’s interests in surrealism, highlighting the unique and heightened qualities of perception and memory as enhanced by the liminal space between daylight and darkness.

Thus, the Night has garnered the Best Music Video award in the Chicago Indie Film Awards, Rome Music Video Awards (October 2023), and Brussels Capital Film Festival (November 2023). The film was also a finalist in the Tatras International Film Festival, and was an official selection at this year’s Montreal Independent Film Festival and València Indie Film Festival.

Filming for Thus, the Night took place on the edge of the prairie at Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, the 55th floor of a Chicago skyscraper, and a private residence on Lake Michigan in June of 2022. It was premiered at the Isis Theater in Aspen, Colorado as part of a featured event with members of the film’s artistic team, in partnership with Aspen Film in March 2024.

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About the creation of the work:

The members of Spektral Quartet decided post-pandemic, after 12 years as a touring ensemble, to pursue other creative and life interests. Filming Thus, the Night was one of our last projects together, and one that we worked on for months after our final performance as an ensemble.

“Ainsi la nuit” is a gem in the string quartet genre, and we fell in love with its abstract, modern presentation of the complex notion of memory. Dutilleux sought to create the feeling of sense memory through music: very much akin to the writer Marcel Proust. It became clear to us that capturing our interpretation through audio alone was not enough to depict the work’s central idea that both the nighttime environment and time itself are unfolding. This piece requires the ensemble to function both like a single organism and complex ecosystem, and the physical gesture of a performing ensemble was inseparable from the experience of the music. We were also drawn to Dutilleux’s theme of after-image: memories that are created and then “remembered” in transformation, fragmentation, and absence.

Through use of temperature, scale, environment, weather, light, and repetition, Thus, the Night responds to Dutilleux’s notion of sense memory and encourages nonlinear pathways of perception. Spektral Quartet is indebted to visionary artists Antonia Contro and Evan Chapman, who not only responded to our initial vision, but dived in with us to study Dutilleux’s work from every angle in order to reflect the magic of this music and its concepts through film.


Ainsi la Nuit composed by Henri Paul Julien Dutilleux

Published by G. Schirmer, Inc.

(ASCAP) o/b/o Alphonse Leduc Editions Musicales (SACEM) o/b/o Heugel SA (SACEM)

Used by permission

Performance by Spektral Quartet:

Clara Lyon & Theo Espy, violins; Doyle Armbrust, viola; Russell Rolen, cello

Visual art by Antonia Contro

Directed by Evan Chapman

Art direction by Evan Chapman, Antonia Contro, Kevin Eikenberg, Clara Lyon

Filming by Evan Chapman and Nick Hughes

Editing by Evan Chapman

Produced by Spektral Quartet

Production manager: Russell Rolen

Production coordinator: Clara Lyon

Production assistant: Laila Francis

Ice Sculptures by Alvaro Ramirez

Ice Sculpture Assistant: Salvador E. Hernandez

Audio producer: Hannah Collins

Recording and mixing engineer: Bill Maylone

Audio Mastering: Ryan Streber and Charles Mueller, Oktaven Audio

Hair and makeup: Pia Macias

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