In 2013, the University of Chicago created a new program, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, that would provide a permanent home for world-class musicians at the University of Chicago. Named for University of Chicago President Emeritus Don Randel, the residency program enables deep engagement between exceptional visiting musical ensembles and UChicago faculty, students and staff.
Randel, a noted musicologist, served as president of the University of Chicago from 2000-2006, when he took over as president of the Mellon Foundation. Upon his retirement in 2013, the foundation awarded the grant for the Ensemble-in-Residence in recognition to Randel's sustained and inspired advocacy of the value of music in a liberal arts education, as well as his transformational leadership for the arts and humanities throughout his career in academia and philanthropy.
The GRAMMY Award-winning Pacifica Quartet, which had long been a resident ensemble of the Department of Music and UChicago Presents, became the first Don Michael Randel Ensemble-in-Residence. In addition to performances on the Contempo series and through UChicago Presents, the quartet presented workshops for students and visited classes, sharing their expertise with both undergraduate and graduate students. Pacifica served as the Don Michael Randel Ensemble in Residence for three years, following a fourteen-year tenure as a resident ensemble in the Department of Music.
Following Pacifica’s residency, seven other ensembles have been appointed as the Don Michael Randle Ensemble-in-Residence. These residencies have included a number of on- and off-campus engagements, including public performances, class visits, student composer workshops, panel discussions, collaborations with local artists and organizations, and coachings and workshops with students at the UChicago Laboratory School.
Don Michael Randel Ensembles-in-Residence
Amjad Ali Khan and Ensemble, 2022–23
- Amjad Ali Khan is one of the undisputed masters of the music world. Since giving his first performance at the age of six, he has played for audiences worldwide, bringing a new and yet timeless interpretation to the repertoire while being widely credited with reinventing the technique of playing the sarod. Amjad Ali Khan’s passion for bringing the sarod to new audiences has seen him give numerous residencies and hold appointments as Visiting Professor at several universities. He is a Gold Medal Winner at the Global Music Awards for his outstanding contribution to the global music industry and excellence in the classical music sphere. Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash, Maestro Khan's sons, join him throughout the residency. Both have emerged as esteemed artists, forging a unique artistic vision that comes from a great legacy.
Quatuor Diotima, 2021–22
- The Quatuor Diotima is one of the most in-demand chamber ensembles in the world today; it was formed in 1996 by graduates of the Paris national conservatory (Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris). They are recognized around the world for interdisciplinary collaborations that cast a new light on both masterpieces of the quartet canon and contemporary additions to the genre.
Axiom Brass, ~Nois, and Quince Ensemble, 2020–21
Spring 2020 brought the decision to delay the Residency engagement with Quatuor Diotima until 2021 due to Covid-19. As uncertainty and concerns rose, featuring ensembles with a relationship and proximity to Chicago was not just a practical choice, but an exciting opportunity for the University to support nearby chamber musicians through an immensely challenging year. Learn more about how the Don Michael Randel Ensemble-in-Residence was reimagined during the 2020—21 academic year.
- Described as “exceptional ambassadors for classical music” and “innovative programmers” Axiom Brass designs concert experiences for audiences that stretch the imagination and expand sensibilities.
- Founded in 2016, ~Nois (pronounced “noise”) has become one of the premier ensembles in the United States by combining contemporary chamber music and improvisation to connect with audiences in unique concert experiences.
- Singing with the precision and flexibility of modern chamber musicians, Quince Ensemble is changing the paradigm of contemporary vocal music. Described as "the Anonymous 4 of new music" by Opera News, Quince continually pushes the boundaries of vocal ensemble literature.
Plena Libre, 2019–20
- Plena Libre, masters of contemporary bomba and plena, brilliantly infuses the Afro-Puerto Rican rhythms Plena and Bomba, with other Caribbean rhythms to their traditional and contemporary compositions, creating an electrifying stage performance.
Sweet Honey in the Rock, 2018–19
- Sweet Honey In The Rock remains among the most vibrant, versatile and ever relevant musical collectives in music today; both as a performance ensemble and as an ambassadorial African American organization founded on the triumvirate missions of empowerment, education and entertainment.
Imani Winds, 2016–18
- Celebrating over two decades of music making, the Grammy nominated Imani Winds has led both a revolution and evolution of the wind quintet through their dynamic playing, adventurous programming, imaginative collaborations and outreach endeavors that have inspired audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
Pacifica Quartet, 2013–16
- Recognized for its virtuosity, exuberant performance style, and often daring repertory choices, over the past twenty-six years the Pacifica Quartet has achieved international recognition as one of the finest chamber ensembles performing today.