After 27 years, the Contemporary Chamber Players’ annual Paul Fromm Concert–named after the late philanthropist–has become a springtime tradition and a leading indicator of musical trends. In this edition, recent works by three gray (or graying) eminences of postwar American music will receive their Chicago premieres. Both Ralph Shapey (the CCP’s founder) and Frederick Rzewski are former mavericks whose styles–Shapey’s fiery neoromanticism and Rzewski’s sociopolitical realism–have come to be recognized as compelling individual voices, partly through Fromm concerts over the years; Peter Westergaard, an Ivy League product and a Princeton prof, is a well-regarded (if a bit straitlaced) academic practitioner of lyrical romanticism. Shapey will be represented by Soli for percussion duo (composed in 1989), Rzewski by his 1990 Fromm Foundation commission Whangdoodles for violin, piano, and percussion, and Westergaard by “Ariel Music” from his opera The Tempest (1987). Rounding out this return to “constructive eclecticism” is a piece by the leader of that movement of the 50s and 60s, Roger Sessions. His Concertino for chamber orchestra, written for the CCP back in 1971, is already a minor classic. As usual, Shapey conducts and and soprano Elsa Charlston is in charge of the singing; other performers include the Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio in the Rzewski piece and percussion players Erik Charlston and James Baker in Soli. Admission is free but tickets must be reserved. Tonight, 8 PM, Mandel Hall, 5706 S. University; 702-8068.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jon Randolph.