Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition Preview- U Chicago’s 2018-2019 series

University of Chicago Department of Music ensemble-in-residence Spektral Quartet; photo by Dan Kullman


The University of Chicago’s recently established Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition (CCCC) will present its inaugural concert for the 2018-19 season on October 13, 2018.

In its sixth decade of presenting contemporary music, the University of Chicago (U Chicago) begins a new chapter with the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition’s new concert series.

The Center brings together exemplary professional and student composers and performers to collaborate and share their talents, creating and presenting innovative works that will influence the field of contemporary music.

The series will include 10 concerts presenting 40 world premieres featuring seven guest composers commissioned to write new compositions, three guest ensembles, a new resident ensemble, and a series of interactive open rehearsals.

A key component of the Center’s performance series is the newly formed Grossman Ensemble, supported by the Sanford J. Grossman Charitable Trust. The ensemble comprises 13 of the nation’s leading contemporary music specialists. Members of the Grossman Ensemble include Tim Munro, flute; Andrew Nogal, oboe; Katie Schoepflin, clarinet; Taimur Sullivan, saxophone; Matthew Oliphant, horn; Greg Beyer, percussion; John Corkill, percussion; Ben Melsky, harp; Daniel Pesca, piano; and Spektral Quartet. The ensemble is co-directed by Thomas, Cheung, and Pluta.

Composer and U Chicago Professor Augusta Read Thomas; photo by Anthony Barlich

Led by composer and U Chicago Professor and internationally renowned prolific composer Augusta Read Thomas, the CCCC provides a collaborative environment for the creation, performance, and study of music as well as the career advancement of emerging and established composers, performers, and scholars.

In an interview just weeks before the series incepts, Read Thomas shared her thoughts about furthering U Chicago’s distinguished heritage of creating and presenting contemporary music, her goals for the CCCC and some insights into the upcoming season.

“The most generous way I can think of to honor any rich tradition is to work vigorously to continue to keep it thriving, dynamic, and growing with artistic vision, diversity, talented artists, and passion”, she said, adding “There will be no ‘house style’; we are reaching world-wide to gather the best artists together, to keep evolving.

We want to keep the CCC vibrant and engaging for musical participants and patrons alike. In a way, the Center is a big vision, filled with many different ‘sonic worlds’ comprised of composers, graduates, post-docs, and ensembles.

The concept behind the Grossman Ensemble goes back to composer and Composition Professor Ralph Shapey, founder and director of the U Chicago Contemporary Chamber Players. The ensemble will represent the University; all the members are incredible soloists, and they will be allowed the almost unheard-of luxury of 8 rehearsals spread over 3 months, during which they can actually revise the work. The focus is on process, not product and the last 2 rehearsals will be open to the public”.

Yarn Wire; photo by Bobby Fisher


– Saturday, October 13, 2018 / 7:30 PM / Logan Center Performance Hall, 915 E. 60th St, Chicago


The genre-bending percussion and piano quartet, described as “fascinating and exciting, with playing that is precise and full of purpose . . .” will perform Les Mondes des Rondes et des Carre, a 2015 work by Japanese composer Misato Mochizuki, and Feld, a recent work by German composer and conductor Enno Poppe. The program also includes two world premieres by U Chicago composers Will Myers and David Clay Mettens.

Composer/drummer Tyshawn Sorey; photo by John Rogers

Tickets: $15, free with student ID

– Thursday, November 8, 2018 / 7 PM / Logan Center Performance Penthouse, 915 E.60thSt, Chicago

Tyshawn Sorey Trio

Tyshawn Sorey is widely considered to be among the most important young artists at the intersection between composed and improvised music. He is one of the most in-demand drummers on the modern jazz scene – known for his impossibly virtuosic technique and his mind-boggling ability to effortlessly master even the most difficult written scores – but is also one of a rare breed of jazz musicians who is pursuing composition as seriously as performance.

Free admission

Conductor Ben Bolter; photo by Adam Singinthetimber

– Friday, December 7, 2018 / 7:30 PM / Logan Center Performance Hall, 915 E. 60th St, Chicago

Grossman Ensemble, 
Ben Bolter, conductor

Bolter, co-director of Northwestern University’s Contemporary Music Ensemble and Associate Director of the NU Institute for New Music, conducts the debut performance of the Grossman Ensemble. The performance includes world premiere works by Assistant Professor of Composition at U Chicago and electronics performer Sam Pluta; Professor of Composition at Brandeis University and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist David Rakowski; U Chicago Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor Emerita and Pulitzer Prize winning composer Shulamit Ran; and CCCCC Postdoctoral Researcher Tonia Ko.

Tickets: $15, free with student ID

Composer Shulamit Ran; photo by Valerie Booth

– Sunday, January 13, 2019 / 8:30 PM / Constellation, 3111 N. Western, Chicago


An exciting partnership between U Chicago graduate composers, Spektral Quartet, and a fantastic group of guest performers, SPEKTRAL+1, PLUS ONE showcases six new works that reimagine and expand the string quartet through the addition of a unique fifth collaborator.  Featuring bassoonist Ben Roidl-Ward; percussionist Doug Perkins; cellist Hannah Collins; clarinetist Alicia Lee; and guitarist Jesse Langen to premiere works by Darlene Castro, Baldwin Giang, Maria Kaoutzani, Joungbum Lee, David Clay Mettens, and Will Myers.

Free admission

– Tuesday, February 5, 2019 / 8 PM / Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago

Civic Orchestra of Chicago

A partnership offering the rare opportunity for nine U Chicago composers – Rodrigo Bussad, Pierce Gradone, Jack Hughes, Alison Yun-Fei Jiang, Maria Kaoutzani, Joungbum Lee, David Clay Mettens, Ted Moore, and Will Myers– to create new works to be premiered by the nation’s most outstanding young professional musicians.

Tickets: free, with a $5 per ticket processing fee

Conductor James Baker; photo by Irene Haupt

Friday, March 15, 2019 / 7:30 PM / Logan Center Performance Hall

Grossman Ensemble, 
James Baker, conductor

The Grossman Ensemble presents works by Chen Yi, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, and U Chicago graduate composers Rodrigo Bussad and Jack Hughes.The ensemble is conducted by the acclaimed James Baker, an advocate for the music of a whole new generation of composers from around the world.

Tickets: $15, free with student ID

– Friday, April 12, 2019 / 8:30 PM / Hairpin Arts Center
Spaces (inside spaces), 2810 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago

NOIS saxophone quartet

Premiering new works by U Chicago composers connecting music and performance to the design and architecture traditions of Chicago. By creatively staging the multiple works throughout the Hairpin Arts Center gallery in the historic Morris B. Sachs building at Logan Square, the composers and musicians engage with physical space and architecture as a compositional parameter. Commissioned lighting design accentuates the space and sonic qualities of the music, both of which lead the audience through a continuously flowing, immersive aesthetic experience.

Free admission

– Thursday & Friday, May 2 & 3, 2019 / Logan Center Performance Penthouse, 915 E. 60th St, Chicago

CHIMEfest 2019: Live Electronics Symposium

The CHIME Studio invites many of the world’s leading live-electronics performers for talks and concerts focused on themes of interaction and experimentation.

Free admission

Composer/vocalist Kate Soper; photo by Liz Linder

– Friday, June 7, 2019 / 7:30 PM / Logan Center Performance Hall, 915 E. 60th St, Chicago

Grossman Ensemble,
 David Dzubay, conductor

In the final concert of the season, the Grossman Ensemble presents four world premiere works by acclaimed soprano Kate Soper; jazz great Steve Lehman;  U Chicago composer Joungbum Lee; and David Dzubay, Professor of Music, Chair of the Composition Department and director of the New Music Ensemble at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, who will also conduct the concert.

Tickets: $15, free with student ID

“There’s nothing quite like the CCCC’s scope of activities, even among organizations and ensembles solely dedicated to new music. 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,” said Anthony Cheung, Assistant Professor of Music at U Chicago. “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.”


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