Chicago Artists Workshop Presents
Susy Bielak & Fred Schmalz: The World Inside This One
Join us for an evening of music, poetry, image, and imagination. In this program, Eighth Blackbird founding members Matthew Duvall and Lisa Kaplan partner with artist/writers Susy Bielak and Fred Schmalz for a brand-new multimedia collaboration.
Equal parts meditation and evocation, The World Inside This One invites us to consider the past, present, and future lives of our homes and the relationships among the objects within them.
The evening includes a new long poem by Bielak and Schmalz, inspired by works of Ceslaw Milosz and Jean Valentine, whose poem inspired the title of this work.
Videos by Bielak and Schmalz present tableaus of domestic daily life and ritualistic acts in home and nature.
The musical score by Duvall and Kaplan—weaving through the entire piece—references works by Aphex Twin, John Cage, Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, and Hiroshi Yoshimura, among others.
About the artists:
Susy Bielak and Fred Schmalz are artists and writers who frequently collaborate with each other, as well as with choreographers, engineers, historians, musicians, and others. Their ongoing collective, Balas & Wax, mines social histories, texts, and archives to create multimedia works that reflect the gravity and strangeness of daily life and contemporary cities.
Critic, poet, and translator Gabriela Jauregi wrote that Balas & Wax’s work expands:
“the practice of artmaking to embrace walks around the city, archival work, music, poetry, monument and anti-monument… often joined by multiple accomplices, who make the urban landscape theirs by questioning what’s there, by excavating what they encounter, thereby effectively transforming the city, rendering it strange (as in the Russian concept of ostranenie, or defamiliarization) through the process of paying attention to the inner lives of certain objects and places.
‘Most people don’t see what’s going on around them. That’s my principal message…For Godssake keep your eyes open. Notice what’s going on around you,’ William Burroughs counsels in The Third Mind. And indeed Balas & Wax elevate this act of noticing the everyday into an art form.”
Balas & Wax’s work has manifested in exhibitions, performances, and publications including EXPO CHICAGO, the Hyde Park Art Center, Lit & Luz Festival, Museo Tamayo, and Poetry Magazine.
Bielak’s work has been collected and exhibited widely, including by the International Print Center, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, and Walker Art Center. Her artwork and writing have been published in Art Papers and New American Paintings, among others. Bielak received her MFA from the University of California San Diego. She is a 2020-21 BOLT artist in residence at Chicago Artists Coalition.
Fred Schmalz’s debut poetry collection, Action in the Orchards (Nightboat Books), responds to encounters with dance, music, and visual art. He was poet-in-residence for the LA Philharmonic’s 2018 FluxConcert in its season-long fluxus festival. His recent writing has appeared in Conduit and Oversound and is forthcoming in The Canary. He currently co-curates the Poetry & Biscuits reading series.
Please join us on Sunday, May 2nd, at 5pm CT/6pm ET/3pm PT for a virtual evening of music, guest composers, an auction, and a signature cocktail you can make at home.
General admission to (r)Evolution is free and open to everyone.
A $75 VIP ticket will get you entry to a post-gala Zoom chat with members of the ensemble and guest composers. We’ll also have a pre-show Zoom mingle that’s open to everyone!
RSVP using the form below. You will receive an email with a link to the stream.
Chicago Artists Workshop Presents
5th Wave collective
5th Wave Collective is a Chicago-based classical music ensemble dedicated to performing and promoting music by womxn and gender-nonconforming composers. Demonstrating their commitment to composers throughout classical music’s history, the Collective performs repertoire by composers such as Teresa Carreño, Clara Schumann, Florence Price, Augusta Read Thomas, and Aftab Darvishi. With a roster of over 110 musicians, 5th Wave curates concerts with configurations ranging from solo instruments to symphony orchestra, and performs in venues across Chicago, including recital halls, art galleries, community centers and restaurants. Learn more at 5thwavecollective.com, or by following 5th Wave on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube at @5thWaveCollective.
Chicago Artists Workshop Presents
Emerging from Chicago’s flourishing indie music scene, Half Gringa blends contemporary indie-rock and Latinx pop with midwestern folk. “When you grew up in the Midwest really into alternative rock, but heard a lot of country music in the supermarket,” offers Isabel Olive, the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist at the core of Half Gringa, when asked to place her music in a specific genre. “Or when your mom loved Bruce Springsteen and Maná and sometimes your brain starts playing them at the same time.” The name Half Gringa is both a tribute to and study of her legacy, stemming from a childhood term of endearment as “la Gringa” in her Venezuelan family and her bicultural experience growing up in the United States. Olive’s work seeks to narrate her tireless pursuit as a pupil of both her origins and her experiences.
Force to Reckon is the Chicago-based artist’s second full-length album, following her locally acclaimed debut, Gruñona, which landed on Chicago Magazine’s “10 Best Chicago Albums of 2017” and Chicago Reader’s “Best Chicago Albums of the Decade.” On the self-produced 9-song set, Olive is joined by her full-time band members — Nathan Bojko (drums), Sam Cantor (guitar), Andres Fonseca (bass), Lucy Little (violin) — as well as Ivan Pyzow on trumpet, with occasional harmonies and piano from fellow Chicago singer/songwriter Gia Margaret. But Force to Reckon has the intimacy of a solo project, and engaged listening feels like a glimpse into Olive’s journals of the last three years.
“I’m very goal-oriented, but I’m also a very anxious person,” she says. “And I always need to have a plan or a process and try to predict every outcome so I’m prepared with my next move. When I started writing these songs I was feeling emotionally upended, a bunch of things came at me that I did not predict, and instead of feeling and responding in the moment, I swallowed all of it. These songs feel like little eruptions as a result, they’re all trying to reach a point of catharsis, but you can’t force catharsis.”
Vocally forward and instrumentally full, the songs on Force to Reckon have a quality that feels personal, yet meant to be shared. Olive’s poetry background is prominently displayed, with carefully selected words used to craft narratives grounded in various different textures, and each part feels intentional and precise. It’s meticulously composed but not cautious. “I was trying to figure out how to express my own vulnerability, my love towards other people, in a way that felt like I was giving myself permission to do so, while accepting that loss and estrangement are inevitable,” she goes on to say.
Each song reaches a climactic peak in its own way and even slower tracks on the album capture something that feels expansive, both sonically and emotionally. “I don’t know your feelings by their first name,” Olive sings emphatically on “Afraid of Horses,” an apology punctuated by a pizzicato violin echo and soft harmonies from Gia Margaret. And although the record is steeped in heavy-hearted themes, Olive often dissects those subjects using tongue-in-cheek humor: “1991 was good to you and I,” the 28-year-old deadpans at the start of upbeat opener “1990,” which traces the anxieties of adulthood back to oft-forgotten childhood memories.
Elsewhere, on “Transitive Property,” Olive explores grief and loss, over a bed of bittersweet fingerpicked guitar, by expertly placing the abstract concepts into the context of everyday change rather than mortality. “I’ve realized that bereavement is about more than a person dying,” she explains. “It’s an absence that you can’t control.” After her grandmother passed away while Olive was on tour, she tried to bury her grief in productivity but eventually realized she needed to set aside time to process. On “Forty,” the album’s string-heavy closer, she finally allows herself long-overdue space to mourn.
Force to Reckon is, as the title suggests, an album with a powerful presence. Though deeply personal, Olive leaves listeners space to relate and experience their own catharsis. “None of the songs on this record resolve, really,” she explains. “Many end in the middle of a thought, because this record is about how much I’m still in the middle of my grieving process. Lines like ‘Time will tell if nothing else’ and ‘I will mourn you in advance, but I never really get the chance’ sound like hindsight, but they were more like predictions when I wrote them. I spend a lot of time looking away from things I don’t want to deal with, but I know they’re still there. And my eyes are getting tired, I guess.”
Chicago Artists Workshop Presents
Molly Joyce’s music has been described as “serene power” (New York Times), written to “superb effect” (The Wire), and “impassioned” (The Washington Post). Her work is primarily concerned with disability as a creative source. She has an impaired left hand from a previous car accident, and the primary vehicle in her pursuit is her electric vintage toy organ, an instrument she bought on eBay which suits her body and engages her disability on a compositional and performative level. Her creative projects have been presented at TEDxMidAtlantic, Bang on a Can Marathon, Danspace Project, Gaudeamus Muziekweek, National Gallery of Art, Classical:NEXT, National Sawdust, and featured in outlets such as Pitchfork, Red Bull Radio, and WNYC’s New Sounds. Molly is a graduate of The Juilliard School, Royal Conservatory in The Hague, Yale School of Music, alumnus of the YoungArts Foundation, and currently serves on the composition faculty at New York University Steinhardt.
Chicago Artists Workshop Presents
Matthew Burtner composer portrait, feat. Jocelyn Zelasko, soprano
Program Info TBD
Matthew Burtner (http://www.matthewburtner.com) is an Alaskan-born composer, sound artist and eco-acoustician whose music and research explores embodiment, ecology, polytemporality and noise. First Prize Winner of the Musica Nova International Electroacoustic Music Competition (Czech Republic), a 2011 IDEA Award Winner, and a recipient of the Howard Brown Foundation Fellowship, Burtner’s music has also received honors and awards from Bourges (France), Gaudeamus (Netherlands), Darmstadt (Germany) and The Russolo (Italy) international competitions. He is the Eleanor Shea Chaired Professor of Music in Composition and Computer Technologies (CCT) at the University of Virginia where he Co-Directs the Coastal Futures Conservatory. He is also Director of the Alaskan-based environmental arts non-profit organization, EcoSono (www.ecosono.org).
Burtner’s works have been performed in festivals and venues throughout the world, and commissioned by ensembles such as NOISE (USA), Integrales (Germany), Peak FreQuency (USA), MiN (Norway), Musikene (Spain), Spiza (Greece), CrossSound (Alaska), and others. His work has been supported by major grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Science Foundation, and he created ecoacoustic music for a number of organizations including President Obama’s US State Department. His research in ecoacoustics has been featured by NASA’s Goddard Space Center, the American Geophysical Union, The Atlantic, Earther and the Center for Energy Studies in the Humanities (CENHS) at Rice University.
He is the composer of three evening-length intermedia environmental opera/theater works — Ukiuq Tulugaq (Winter Raven), Kuik, and Auksalaq, the first climate change opera. A 2010/2011 Provost Fellow at the Center for 21st Century Studies at UWM, Burtner has also conducted long-term residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada), Phonos Foundation/Pompeu Fabra Universidad (Spain), Musikene (Spain), Cite des Arts (France), IRCAM/Centre Pompidou (France), and the University of Missouri Kansas City (USA). He studied composition, computer music, saxophone and philosophy at St. Johns College, Tulane University (BFA), Iannis Xenakis’s UPIC-Studios, the Peabody Institute/Johns Hopkins (MM), and Stanford University/CCRMA (DMA). Among published recordings for Parma/Ravello (US), DACO (Germany), The WIRE (UK), Innova (US), Summit (US) Centaur (US), EcoSono (US) and Euridice (Norway), his music is available on several solo albums: That which is bodiless is reflected in bodies, The Ceiling Floats Away, Glacier Music, NOISE plays Burtner, Auksalaq Live at the Philips Collection, MICE World Tour, Signal Ruins, Metasaxophone Colossus and Portals of Distortion.
Burtner’s creative musical work is closely intertwined with the sciences, particularly environmental science and engineering. He develops systems for human-computer-environment interaction featured in his music. He invented the NOMADS telematic system, the MICE human-computer ensemble and orchestra, the Metasaxophone augmented instrument, and a number of ecoacoustic approaches.
Detroit-based soprano, Jocelyn Zelasko, is a versatile musician who is celebrated as an insightful performer with a captivating stage presence. She has performed chamber music, opera, and art song in festivals and concerts throughout Europe, the Caribbean, and North America. She is the vocalist for Detroit’s premiere ensemble, New Music Detroit, and a founding member of ensembles Juxtatonal and Whoopknox. Her career began in the classical realm, but a passion for making complex vocal music accessible to audiences through character development and authentic storytelling led her to pursue new music.
She has performed with the GRAMMY award-winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird, Eastman Broadband Ensemble, Matt Ulery Trio, and the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. She has also sung with many outstanding performers including Tony Arnold (International Contemporary Ensemble), Vicky Chow (Bang on a Can All-Stars), and Miles Brown (Alarm Will Sound), among many others. She has performed at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival (GLCMF), held residencies at the Wholehearted Musician and the Millay Colony for the Arts, was a fellow at [R]evolution Resonant Bodies and Eighth Blackbird’s Creative Lab, and was a featured performer at soundSCAPE and the Summer Institute of Contemporary Performance Practice (SICPP).
As an advocate for the creation of new works, Zelasko has commissioned a vast number of composers including Michelle McQuade Dewhirst, Marti Epstein, David Smooke, Daniel Felsenfeld, Leaha Maria Villarreal, Danny Clay, Griffin Candey, Emily Millard, and more. Her voice and cello duo, Juxtatonal (JUX), embarked on a large-scale commissioning project asking 14 composers for new works addressing relevance. The compositions deal with issues of vulnerability, self, privilege, gender, age, and culture, and include elements ranging from co-composition with 5th graders, new forms of musical notation, and choreography inspired by pop culture.
Additionally, she originated the title role of 100 year-old photographer, Pat Sturn, in the new-mixed media chamber opera, Pat & Emilia (Smallman/ Gervais/Sievers-Hunt) which toured extensively in Canada and the Great Lakes region from 2015 – 2018. Michigan Opera Theatre’s (MOT) principal cellist, Nadine Deleury, commissioned the opera and hand-selected the chamber ensemble utilizing talented colleagues of the MOT orchestra. Jeff Smallman composed the music specifically for Zelasko and Deleury’s chamber ensemble using lyrics by Windsor’s poet laureate, Marty Gervais, with Canadian-American writer, Tara Sievers-Hunt. While being interviewed for the Canadian Arts Productions documentary, Imagining Angels, Zelasko discussed her inspirations to play Pat Sturn feeling connected to Pat’s fierce independence, quest for perfection, and unwavering passion for art.
Zelasko’s scholarly pursuits focus on fostering musical identity and embodying empathy through song. After her riveting lecture performance on Eleanor Smith’s social protest songs, she was invited to contribute a book chapter on her research, development, and embodiment of the social protestors in Smith’s Hull House Songs. The book and accompanied recordings were published in early 2019.
Zelasko received bachelor’s degrees in vocal performance and economics from Oakland University where she was also a scholarship athlete. Furthering her education, she received a master’s degree in music from the University of Iowa. She studied with acclaimed voice professors Dr. Edith Diggory and Dr. John Muriello, and voice scientist Dr. Ingo Titze. In addition to her work as a performer, Zelasko is a grant-award panelist for New Music USA, conducts master classes, lectures, maintains a thriving private voice studio, and enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, and golfing.
Chicago Artists Workshop Presents
Special time – 2:00pm CT
Chaos Hands is a trio that encompasses genre-bending and discipline-defying in every sense of the word. Their live performance is a mix of improvisation, through-composed material, and pre-recorded triggers. Everything created by Chaos Hands is based on pillars of trust, letting go and experimentation. All voices in the ensemble play and equal role in the development of the pieces. Each member lives in a separate continent, which means the material is passed from one to another as it is being developed. Our original compositions are heavily influenced by Berlin & Detroit Techno, drum and bass, Bjork, Jon Hopkins, Sophie, Arca, and Avant-Garde film.
Allison Wright, sound artist
Nicole Patrick, drums
Chicago Artists Workshop Presents
AYANNA WOODS is a composer, performer and bandleader from Chicago. Her music explores the spaces between acoustic and electronic, traditional and esoteric, wildly improvisational and mathematically rigorous. A collaborator across genres and forms, her work spans new music, theater, film scoring, arranging, songwriting, and improvisation. She earned her B.A. in music from Yale University.
Woods’ chamber works have been performed by Third Coast Percussion, Wet Ink Ensemble, Fifth House Ensemble, among others. Her work has premiered at Fresh Inc. Festival, Walden CMR, the Loretto Project, and Close to There<>Perto de Lá, a cross-cultural residency in Salvador, Brazil.
She is a frequent collaborator with the Chicago Children’s Choir, of which she’s an alumna. Her arrangements for the choir have been performed all over Chicago, notably at CCC’s Paint the Town Red in Millenium Park (2016), Chance the Rapper’s Magnificent Coloring Day at Guaranteed Rate Field (2016), and Jamila Woods’ Heavn Here at Harold Washington Cultural Center (2018).
In 2018, she originated her role as a vocalist in Place,a new oratorio about gentrification and displacement co-conceived by Pulitzer finalist Ted Hearne, director Patricia McGregor and poet/librettist Saul Williams.
Her music appears in a range of film and theater projects. Two of her songs are featured in the Emmy-nominated web series Brown Girls. In 2017, she composed the score for No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, a live film created by writers Eve Ewing, Nate Marshall, and Emmy-winning performance collective Manual Cinema. She continues to tour the U.S. and Canada with Manual Cinema as a bassist and music director.
As a gigging musician, she is a sought-after bassist and improvisor in Chicago. As the bassist for TASHA, she toured the west coast and performed at Pitchfork Music Festival in 2019. Woods is currently recording a debut solo album with her own band, Yadda Yadda.
Woods is a recipient of Third Coast Percussion’s 2017 Emerging Composers Partnership, a 2017 3Arts Make A Wave grant, and a 2020 DCASE Individual Artist Program grant