George Flynn Before coming to Chicago in 1977 to chair DePaul University’s composition department, George Flynn had been studying and teaching at Columbia University. The new-music scene in Manhattan was then divided into two camps: an uptown group associated with Columbia and Charles Wuorinen that focused on 12-tone and serial music, and a downtown group associated with John Cage and Morton Feldman that was more freewheeling and experimental. “I was really midtown,” says Flynn, who hung out with both groups as he wrote his Ives-inspired nonserial music. He says that when he arrived in Chicago “there wasn’t much of anything going on. It was just Shapey’s group,” meaning Ralph Shapey’s Contemporary Chamber Players at the University of Chicago. Within two years Flynn had created Chicago Soundings as a venue outside of academia,
but he got tired of writing grant proposals, locating venues, and doing publicity and in 1986 persuaded DePaul to take it over under the name New Music DePaul. A few years later, on his birthday, he hosted a concert at the Green Mill that evolved into an annual event–“out of a desire to provide an opportunity for composers to do their own thing and to provide fellowship for people with new ideas and new pieces,” he says, “as well as invite accomplished performers to perform nonexperimental 20th-century music.” He’s hosting another birthday concert this Sunday, to celebrate his 68th. “It’s a reverse birthday,” he says. “I get to give back.” Even Flynn hasn’t heard everything that will be played, but there are sure to be some good, polished performances, including one of his poetic, emotionally charged Together (2001), played by Flynn himself, a fine pianist, and violinist Katherine Hughes, an excellent interpreter of new music. Among the other composers performing their own music are Jeff Kowalkowski, Julia Miller, Don Malone, Janice Misurell-Mitchell, and Kurt Westerberg. Music by Pierre Boulez and Michael Finnissy is also on the program. Sun 1/16, 2 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552 or 773-281-1241, $5.