Posted inMusic

Kali Malone’s disciplined compositions tune into the church organ’s expressive potential

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. […]

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The extraordinary tragedy of daily life

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, […]

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Elastic Arts’ AfriClassical Futures series continues with the Honourable Elizabeth A. Baker

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, […]

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Ensemble dal Niente collates five-year-old highlights on Object/Animal

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 […]

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By deconstructing the flute, Laura Cocks’s Field Anatomies builds new worlds

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 […]

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In Trios From the City of Big Shoulders, the Lincoln Trio dusts off overlooked Chicago chamber works

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 […]

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Israeli pianist Shira Legmann revives the piano music of composer Giacinto Scelsi

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 […]

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The generation-spanning Fountain of Time is an intriguing peek into Chicago new-music lab the Grossman Ensemble

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 […]