Steppenwolf for Young Adults brings its acclaimed production of 1919, J. Nicole Brooks’s stage adaptation of Eve L. Ewing’s poems about the “Red Summer” race riots and white supremacy in America, from their Halsted Street venue to a short tour this week with Chicago Park District’s “Night Out in the Parks” program, starting tonight at […]
Stockholm-based, American-born composer Kali Malone is known for her pipe-organ works, and her path to the instrument was hardly conventional. Five minutes into her first and only organ lesson, she prevailed upon the teacher to let her get inside the instrument. She left with a referral to an organ tuner, with whom she eventually apprenticed. […]
Wolfgang Amadeus Aleksandr “Aleks” Fa has a lot of baggage. The protagonist of Joe Meno’s new novel Book of Extraordinary Tragedies has that name, after all—which also serves as a clue about what burdens the young man. Born into a perfectionist but impoverished Bosnian/Croat/Polish family in Evergreen Park on the border with Chicago’s south side, […]
Since January 2020, vocalist Julian Otis and Elastic Arts executive director Adam Zanolini have programmed AfriClassical Futures, a series offering an antidote to the overwhelming whiteness and deadness of the classical canon. Each AfriClassical concert invites a Black artist working in or springboarding from the Western classical tradition for an intimate live performance and conversation, […]
Ensemble dal Niente’s Object/Animal follows closely on the heels of the local contemporary classical group’s November release, Confined. Speak., a retrospective of pieces performed sans live audiences in 2020 and 2021. Object/Animal is likewise chronologically narrow: dal Niente premiered all the works on the album in 2017. Aesthetically, however, the three featured compositions are as […]
When you’re ensconced in a circle of 29 piccolos, no one can hear you scream. New York-based flutist and TAK Ensemble cofounder Laura Cocks re-creates this otherworldly sonic scenario in David Bird’s “Atolls,” the first piece off their new debut solo album, Field Anatomies (Carrier). Bird says his piece derived the auxiliary performers’ pitches by […]
Multi-instrumentalist Wendy Eisenberg plays in lots of different settings, but no matter what they’re doing, their music always carries a tinge of no-wave. It’s perhaps easier to hear in their rock-centered projects, Birthing Hips and Editrix, but a dash of off-kilter flair seeps into even the low-key ensemble affair of Eisenberg’s 2019 record Auto. With […]
It’s Leo Sowerby’s summer. Had 2020 gone as planned, musicians across the city likely would have launched into 125th-anniversary celebrations for the late Chicago composer (1895–1968) and onetime St. James Cathedral organist. Any such plans were obviously tabled, but luckily for us, quasquicentennial recordings of Sowerby’s chamber works are nonetheless bubbling to the top of […]
The music that Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi wrote during the middle of the 20th century predicted minimalism and spectralism, but its forms and sounds remain distinct from those later developments—and from most other European classical music. Born in 1905, he started composing music in the late 1920s and arrived at his mature style after experiencing […]
The through line of Spektral Quartet’s first studio release in four years, Experiments in Living, is that there is no through line—at least on the surface. The double album covers 150 years of history, from Brahms to living lions such as George Lewis, but rather than foist a chronological or thematic flow onto the recording, […]
The Grossman Ensemble could be thought of as a new-music incubator. The resident ensemble of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition (CCCC) at the University of Chicago, the 13-piece group—which comprises some of the best contemporary players in the city—rehearses extensively with composers over the course of several weeks. Some of their commissions emerge collaboratively […]
It might seem backhanded or cute to say that a Grammy–winning string quartet’s 16th record has the feel of a second act. But that more or less describes the Pacifica Quartet’s new release, Contemporary Voices. The album is the ensemble’s second since they changed up their ranks; violinist Austin Hartman and violist Mark Holloway replace […]
Chicago string quartet D-Composed takes chamber music outside the institutions that have long excluded Black musicians and audiences.
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because his father, Kurt, was a regular guest conductor of the CSO.
Third Coast Percussion are already one of the best ensembles of their kind in the country—and their upcoming projects with Philip Glass and Devonté Hynes could make them the biggest.