Tyshawn Sorey will be among several innovative musicians featured during the first season of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition. - Original Credit: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (/ HANDOUT)
via the Chicago Tribune:
A bold first season for U. of C.'s contemporary music center
By Howard Reich
On paper, the first season of the emerging Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition looks quite significant for new music in this city. Formed last year at the University of Chicago, the CCCC on Tuesday unveiled an inaugural lineup of remarkable breadth, depth and ambition. Among the highlights:
- A new group – the 13-member Grossman Ensemble – performing at the university’s Logan Center for the Arts.
- A season of 40 world premieres from various groups, including the Grossman Ensemble.
- New works played by the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and Chicago’s versatile Spektral Quartet.
- Experimental concerts embracing classical, jazz and electronic idioms.
- An off-campus concert by the ~Nois saxophone quartet performing works by university composers.
- At least two new compositions from the center’s 2018-19 Composition Fellow, Tonia Ko.
First seasons don’t get much bigger, smarter or more multi-dimensional than this.
Composer, U. of C. professor and CCCC director Augusta Read Thomas hastens to note that this initiative, supported in part by gifts from Kay Bucksbaum and Gay Stanek, grows out of a long tradition of contemporary music at the school.
“If we think all the way back to when Ralph Shapey established the Contemporary Chamber Players – there was that model,” says Thomas of a widely admired ensemble Shapey founded and led, beginning in 1964.
Shapey’s CCP, which was at the forefront of performing new music by him and others, evolved into the Contempo presenting organization in 2002. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and U. of C. professor Shulamit Ran led Contempo until 2015, when U. of C. professor and eminent composer Marta Ptaszynska took the helm.
CCCC stands as the latest step in this long evolution, but also the most far-reaching one, in that it encompasses a resident and visiting ensembles, commissions, collaborations, scholarship and audience outreach (in the form of open rehearsals by the Grossman Ensemble).
“Part of this morph is to go back to the idea of the university having its own ensemble,” says Thomas of the new band, underwritten by the Sanford J. Grossman Charitable Trust.
“There’s nothing quite like the CCCC’s scope of activities, even among organizations and ensembles solely dedicated to new music,” says U. of C. assistant professor of music Anthony Cheung, in a statement.
“It has an international reach, with composers and guest ensembles that hail from multiple countries and cultures and across generations, and it covers a wide aesthetic spectrum, from notated large ensemble acoustic works of all stripes to electronic and improvised music. The Grossman Ensemble’s dedication to commissioning and premieres is particularly notable, as it is simultaneously contributing to the new repertoire of our time.
“And the CCCC also celebrates the local, with members of the Grossman Ensemble selected from the most accomplished specialists of contemporary music in and near Chicago, and an advisory board comprised of composers and scholars at the University of Chicago. Its revolving door of renowned guest ensembles, postdoctoral researchers and guest composers ensures a fresh approach and new partnerships each year.”
How fresh those approaches turn out to be has yet to be heard, but the venture clearly does not lack for vision.
Following is a breakdown of several major elements, plus performance dates. Concerts are free for students with I.D.
During the course of three concerts at the university’s Logan Center for the Arts, the Grossman Ensemble will offer 12 world premieres by university faculty, students and guest composers. In a most unusual feature, the musicians will conduct eight rehearsals before each performance, allowing composers time to revise their works before the premieres, a luxury by today’s standards; and the public will be invited to attend an open rehearsal preceding each concert. The ensemble features flutist Tim Munro, oboist Andrew Nogal, clarinetist Katie Schoepflin, saxophonist Taimur Sullivan, hornist Matthew Oliphant, percussionists Greg Beyer and John Corkill, harpist Ben Melsky, pianist Daniel Pesca and the Spektral Quartet. Performances in the Logan Center Performance Hall, 915 E. 60th St.; $15.
Here is the schedule:
Ben Bolter conducts world premieres by Sam Pluta, David Rakowski, Shulamit Ran and Tonia Ko; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7.
James Baker conducts world premieres by Chen Yi, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez and university graduate student composers Rodrigo Bussad and Jack Hughes; 7:30 p.m. March 15, 2019.
David Dzubay conducts world premieres by Kate Soper, Steve Lehman, Dzubay and graduate student composer Joungbum Lee. 7:30 p.m. June 7.
Open rehearsals will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 10, Feb. 16 and May 11 in the Logan Center Performance Hall; admission is free.
Tyshawn Sorey Trio. Winner of a MacArthur Fellowship in 2017, Sorey defies the usual musical categorizations. “I’m not interested in being a jazz musician, I’m not into being an avant-garde musician or a traditionalist – I’m not into any of that,” he told me last year. His music proves the point. 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Logan Center Performance Penthouse; free.
CHIMEfest 2019: Live Electronics Symposium. The Chicago Integrated Media Experimental Studio (CHIME) spotlights performances and conversations from live-electronics artists. May 2 and 3, 2019; Logan Center Performance Penthouse; free.
Spektral +1, PLUS ONE
The Spektral Quartet, an innovative Chicago ensemble, will be joined by a different guest instrumentalist for the world premiere of each of six works by graduate student composers Darlene Castro, Baldwin Giang, Maria Kaoutzani, Joungbum Lee, David Clay Mettens and Will Myers. The guest instrumentalists are bassoonist Ben Roidl-Ward, percussionist Doug Perkins, cellist Hannah Collins, clarinetist Alicia Lee and guitarist Jesse Langen. 8:30 p.m. Jan 13, 2019 at Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave.; free.
Civic Orchestra of Chicago
The Civic Orchestra will play the world premieres of music composed by university graduate students Rodrigo Bussad, Pierce Gradone, Jack Hughes, Alison Yun-Fei Jiang, Maria Kaoutzani, Joungbum Lee, David Clay Mettens, Ted Moore and Will Myers. 8 p.m. Feb. 5 at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.; free, with $5 per ticket processing fee.
Yarn/Wire. The quartet, featuring two percussionists and two pianists, will perform Misato Mochizuki’s “Les Mondes des Rondes et des Carre” (2015); “Feld,” by Enno Poppe; and world premieres by graduate students Will Myers and David Clay Mettens. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13 in the Logan Center Performance Hall; $15.
Spaces Inside Spaces. The ~Nois saxophone quartet will perform new works by university graduate students and Tonia Ko in various spaces of the Hairpin Arts Center gallery, the music reflecting the flow of light and sound in the environment. 8:30 p.m. April 12 at Hairpin Arts Center gallery, 2810 N. Milwaukee Ave.; free. For more information, visit cccc.uchicago.edu.
Read the full story at the Chicago Tribune.