Updated: May 15
I am overjoyed that we will be back in-person at the Green Mill this year for our annual New Music at the Green Mill May concert! Come join us Sunday, May 16, 2021 at 4 pm for an incredible lineup of composers and performers. The in-person audience is limited to 50 people and masks are required when not seated at a table. Cover charge is $10. Hope to see you there! (This concert will NOT be streamed.)
SCROLL DOWN FOR COMPLETE PROGRAM AND MUSICIAN INFORMATION
Sunday, May 16, 4:00 pm at the Green Mill
4802 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640
Amos Gillespie, Saxophone
Marianne Parker and Amy Wurtz, Piano 4-hands
William Jason Raynovich, Cello
Wurtz-Berger Duo, cello and piano
Alyson Berger, Cello
Trevor Patricia Watkin and Jeff Kowalkoski, Flute and piano
Janice Misurell-Mitchell, voice and flute
Nora Barton/Planchette, Cello
Ben Zucker, Vibraphone
Margaret Brouwer: Sonata for Flute and Piano
Trevor Patricia Watkin, Flute Jeff Kowalkowski, Piano
Amos Gillespie: Ellipses
Amos Gillespie, Saxophone
Planchette: Improvisation/Conversation with the walls
Nora Barton, Cello
Gabriela Lena Frank: Sonata Serrana IV. Karnavalito
Marianne Parker and Amy Wurtz, Piano
Marc Mellits Postcards of Dreadlock
I. Romania, November, 2002
II. Syracuse, March, 2009
III. Chicago, October, 2013
Marianne Parker and Amy Wurtz, Piano
George Flynn Gentle Horns
Jeremiah Frederick, Horn
Mary Jo Neher, Horn
John Schreckengost, Horn
Joanna Schulz, Horn
Janice Misurell-Mitchell Una voce perduta: in memoriam, Ted Shen
Janice Misurell-MItchell, Alto flute
Hugo Ball Gadji beri bimba
Janice Misurell-Mitchell, voice
Ben Zucker Three Pieces
Ben Zucker, Vibraphone
Cristina Spinei Between Shadow and Light
Alyson Berger, Cello
Cristina Spinei Peregrine
Alyson Berger, Cello
Amy Wurtz, Piano
Astor Piazzolla Le Grand Tango
About the Music: (in program order)
This is a cool piece that she should have written for flute but didn't so I wrote her an email saying so and she was like "whatevs" - Trevor
When getting used to being in quarantine and working from home I had some difficulty figuring out transitions since there was no drive or walking time, so I would often second guess what to do next, staring blankly for a bit. This piece describes these ellipses in the music. - Amos
experiments with cello and effects pedals - Planchette
Sonata Serrana No. 1 is inspired by the distinctly Andean concept of mestizaje as championed by Peruvian folklorist José Maria Arguedas (1911-1969) whereby cultures can co-exist without one subjugating another. Allusions to the rhythms and harmonies of the mountain music of my mother’s homeland of Perú abound in each of this work’s four movements, with an additional nod to the colorful style of Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983). The four movements are:
I. Allegro Solar (Sun Allegro)
II. Scherzo Nocturno (Night Scherzo)
III. Adagio para el Anochecer (Adagio for Dusk)
IV. Karnavalito (Festive Song in the Quechua Indian style) - Frank
Postcards of Dreadlock is a stand-alone four-hand piano version of the second act of Mellits’ operetta M/W. The music relies on rich thematic and harmonic development incorporated into a repetitive acoustical canvas. It is music that is tonal within modes but eschews traditional tonality. The repetitive nature of the music propels itself into spiraling dances, always with a forward motion, into sometimes dark and sometimes bright areas of a spectral musical canvas. The transformation from operetta to 4-hand piano took place in three different locations, with each movement’s subtitle representing the place of inspiration and transformation.
Written for the ‘Rona Quartet in 2020, Gentle Horns, as the title suggests, is meant to be a calm, restful piece. There is a brief middle section that is faster and more lively, with a “fugal” theme that all four horns articulate. After the middle section each horn is given a prominent part, and the work concludes with a return to much of the opening material. The work relies mostly on what we would consider to be rather traditional textures and gestures.
Una voce perduta, in memoriam Ted Shen, for solo alto flute, was written in memory of Chicago arts critic Ted Shen, who passed away in 2003. In writing the work I have used Ted’s name as a basis for the musical material: the letters “T-E-D” fall on the pitches F, E, D (in transposition), and each of these pitches, introduced by grace notes, is associated with particular sounds or motivic ideas, as an analogy to Ted’s wide range of interests. I chose the alto flute because of the haunting quality of its tone, its relationship in sound to the Asian bamboo flutes, and to represent Ted’s strong support of Asian cultures.
The author of the Dada Manifesto and founder of Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, Ball declared that his aim was “to remind the world that there are people of independent minds – beyond war and nationalism – who live for different ideals.”; An inveterate diarist, he noted: “I have invented a new series of verses, verses without words, or sound poems, in which the balancing of the vowels is gauged and distributed according to the value of the initial line.” Gadji beri bimba, written in 1916 is one of the best-known of those “verses without words”.
Between Shadow and Light is part of a larger work, There I Was, a dance commissioned by the Nashville Ballet. This cello solo is a contemplative piece that is meant to be played very freely.
Peregrine is the cello and piano duet from Ex Voto - a collection of nine pieces for piano, cello, and violin. I wanted to create music that is more personal and exposed than anything else that I have written. The inspiration for this work came from a visit to the Cloisters in New York and from my Catholic, Italian-American upbringing. The term ex voto comes from the Latin ex voto suscepto, "from the vow made" and is an offering to a saint or divinity given in fulfillment of a vow in gratitude or devotion. The music of Ex Voto is a return to everything that I love about composing: lilting melodies, driving rhythms, and lush harmonies. Peregrine juxtaposes sparse piano lines with longing cello tones throughout the piece.
Le Grand Tango, Spanish El gran tango, single-movement piece for cello and piano by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla that expresses the spirit of nuevo tango (“new tango”), a melding of traditional tango rhythms and jazz-inspired syncopation. Written in 1982, Le Grand Tango was published in Paris—thus its French rather than Spanish title.
Piazzolla studied composition in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, who encouraged him to stick with the tango rather than focusing solely on classical composition. Taking her words to heart, he began to experiment with the standard Argentine tango, diverging from the expected Latin harmonies and producing an edgier sound than that found in classic tango. He composed Le Grand Tango for Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, who did not play it until 1990 or record it until 1996.
Although structured in a single movement, the work has three broad sections. It opens with the indication “Tempo di tango,” in which strongly accented tango rhythms dominate. In the second section, performers are told to allow more motion, with a “libero e cantabile” (“free and singing”) spirit. It contains extensive dialogue between the cello and the piano. The final section, for which Piazzolla provided the tempo indication “giocoso” (“humorous”), presents a mood of electric energy and even humour. The music charges forward to its conclusion, giving the cellist many challenging double-stops (playing two notes at once) and glissandos (sliding rapidly through a musical scale).
About the Musicians: (in alphabetical order)
Cellist, Alyson Berger is a native of Long Island, New York, and began studying cello at the age of seven. From a very early age, she knew that music was the career path for her. She studied Cello Performance at Ithaca College and in Kansas at the Wichita State University, while a member of the Wichita Symphony. In Chicago, she has been an active recitalist specializing in contemporary classical music and frequently works directly with composers. She is a founding member of Chicago-based Access Contemporary Music and keeps busy performing in ACM’s Chicago productions. Through ACM Alyson met pianist Amy Wurtz and formed the WurtzBerger Duo, a cello and piano collaboration specializing in new music. As part of the WurtzBerger Duo, she has performed at these Chicago events: Thirsty Ears Festival, The Ear Taxi Festival, the Impromptu Fest, and New Music Chicago Presets. She is also a full-time music educator in the Evanston Public Schools and maintains a large studio of private cello students.
George Flynn (1937) has performed and organized concerts of new music in a variety of New York City and Chicago venues. He has composed over 150 works in all media, and has recorded for Turnabout, ATCO, Finnadar, Titanic, Wounded Bird and Southport labels. LP recordings include his own music as well as works by John Cage, Charles Ives, Olivier Messiaen and Jan Akkerman (a member of the Dutch group Focus), and CD recordings include many works of his own. Many of Flynn’s works reflect extra-musical interests, including images of this country and the Vietnam experience. His chamber duos consider human relationships; and several piano solos seek to extend the limits of gestural, technical and poetic elements. Flynn received his academic degrees from Columbia University, New York City, and taught at Columbia and Lehmann College (CUNY) as well DePaul University (Chicago). He has been visiting lecturer/composer at many music venues throughout this country, Canada, and Europe, and has contributed articles to several American publications. As a pianist Flynn has performed and recorded new music for many years in the US and Europe. He is the recipient of awards from many individuals and organizations, is a member of ASCAP, and is entered in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Baker's Biographical Dictionary, and Maurice Hinson’s Guide to the Piano Repertoire.
Amos’ music has been heard on WFMT in Chicago, WQXR in New York City and PBS. His music spans a wide range of genres including chamber and orchestra concert music, jazz, as well as music for film, theater and dance. His music has been commissioned and performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Atlantic Music Festival Contemporary Ensemble, Third Millennium Ensemble, Attacca Woodwind Quintet, Barkada Saxophone Quartet, Kaia String Quartet, Access Contemporary Music (ACM) and the Chicago Composers Orchestra among many others.
Janice Misurell-Mitchell, composer, flutist and vocal artist, has taught and performed in the US, Europe, Mexico, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Taiwan and China. For many years she was a member of CUBE Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, where she was Co-Artistic Director. She received an Artist Fellowship from the Illinois Arts Council for 2019 and a commission from the Ear Taxi Festival in 2020. Other honors include grants from Meet the Composer, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, and residencies at the Ragdale Foundation. Her recordings are on the Southport Records label, MMC, OPUS ONE, Capstone, meerenaishim.com and Arizona University Recordings. www.jmisurell-mitchell.com
PLANCHETTE is the creature that lives deep inside the belly of Chicago cellist Nora Barton. Drawing from extreme frequencies within the sound spectrum, Planchette finds warmth in harsh sounds and unexpected inspiration in the minutiae of near-silence through improvisation, delayed loops, and acoustic resonance. www.norabarton.com
The ‘Rona Quartet
Three months into the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 musicians everywhere were out of work, missing our colleagues and pining for musical conversation. In May, just three months into the pandemic, we all responded to a suggestion to meet outdoors and make some music, just to feel normal for an afternoon. On June 14th we gathered in a backyard…and the rest?
Jeremiah Frederick, horn, holds the position of Associate Principal Horn of the South Bend Symphony and is a regular member of the Chicago Philharmonic and the IRIS Orchestra in Memphis. In addition, Jeremiah has played with many Chicago-area ensembles including the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Grant Park, Elgin, and Rockford Symphonies, the Joffrey Ballet and Lyric Opera of Chicago. An avid chamber musician, he is a member of the award-winning Quintet Attacca, the ‘Rona Quartet and has performed with the Chicago Chamber Musicians and the Millar Brass Ensemble. In August of 2001, Jeremiah was awarded third place in the American Horn Competition. Solo engagements have included performances with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Racine Symphony, Fox Valley Symphony, South Bend Symphony and Gordon Jacob’s Concerto For Horn and Strings at Northwestern University. Jeremiah graduated from Northwestern University in 2000 with a Masters’ Degree in performance and received his BM from Lawrence University. His teachers have included Gail Williams, Bill Barnewitz, and James DeCorsey.
A second generation Alaskan, Mary Jo Neher, has lived and freelanced in Chicago for over twenty years, performing throughout the Midwest with organizations such as the Chicago Sinfonietta, Illinois Philharmonic, the South Bend, Rockford, Elgin, Northwest Indiana and Milwaukee Symphonies. Stage Production credits include working with the Milwaukee Ballet, Chicago Light Opera Works, and Broadway in Chicago. An avid chamber musician, Mary Jo is a member of the world renown Millar Brass Ensemble and the pandemic formed, ‘Rona Quartet. Mary Jo has recorded albums from all genres of music, from the sounds of a jazz nonet on Joe Clark’s, “The C.O.W.L. Sessions'', to the period music of the Chicago Arts Orchestra LP, “Al Combate” and the Indy rock album of Sam Winch, “Senator!”. Mary Jo can also be heard on Millar Brass’ album, “In Memoriam, a Tribute to Vincent Cichowicz”, and the Chicago Horn Consort’s debut album, “Catch Fire”. Mary Jo feels lucky to have spent many months on the road with shows like “Phantom of the Opera” and “Star Wars in Concert, travelling across North America, playing music so loved by so many. MJ describes herself as a “Musician, Maker and Mama”, and when not playing her horn can be found in her “makers studio” or hanging with her two young kids and husband and blogging about her “WONDERfilled Life”.
Joanna Schulz is a dedicated chamber and orchestral performer. A resident of Chicago, Illinois, she performs with the ‘Rona Quartet, Gaudete Brass, and educational ensemble Women in Music. Originally from Vancouver Island on Canada’s beautiful West Coast, Joanna moved to the US to become a member of UW-Madison faculty ensemble, the Wingra Wind Quintet from 2015 through 2019. While in Canada, Joanna held principal positions with the Vancouver Island Symphony and the Montreal Chamber Orchestra. She was heard regularly with the Vancouver Symphony, Victoria Symphony, Pacific Opera Victoria, Calgary Symphony and the l’orchestre symphonique de Drummondville. As a contemporary collaborator she has presented new works for both solo horn and chamber ensemble. Performances include the Sonic Boom Festival, Labo de Musique contemporaine de Montreal, and presentations by the Redshift Music Society of the Negative Z and Vancouver Miniaturist Ensembles.
John Schreckengost was principal horn of the Israel Sinfonietta before returning to the United States to study with Dale Clevenger. Mr. Schreckengost is principal horn of the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra. He is also a member of the Chicago Sinfonietta, Illinois Philharmonic, and Chicago Arts Orchestra. He has played with the Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and has played as an extra musician with the Chicago Symphony, Lyric Opera, and Grant Park orchestras. Mr. Schreckengost taught horn and brass chamber music at Valparaiso University for thirteen years. His arrangements have been featured in performances by the Chicago Symphony Horn Section, the Chicago Horn Consort, Chicago Classic Brass, and the 'Rona Quartet.
Composer and performer Cristina Spinei (pronounced spin-AY) has written for numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles, but she is most known for her work with ballet, having been commissioned by Nashville Ballet, the New York Choreographic Institute, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, and many more. Growing up with dreams of becoming a ballerina, Spinei has channeled her love for dance into a devotion to musical movement, resulting in a style infused with “lyricism and rhythmic vitality.” (Nashville Scene)
Cristina has made her home in Nashville since 2014, and has since established herself as one of Music City’s most versatile, forward-thinking musicians: Nashville Arts dubbed her “gifted and engaging”, while The East Nashvillian praises her “adventuresome imagination.” Self-described as “minimalish,” Cristina anchors her musical ideas in melody, movement, and loops. Though she frequently adopts repeating patterns when writing, her music evokes more dance than trance, combining her love for opera’s beautifully crafted melodies and Latin music’s movement-heavy rhythms—two genres that work in tandem to inform Cristina’s vision. As she remarked once in an interview:
“I always want there to be some kind of movement through the music in the audience, whether you’re tapping your foot, or nodding your head, or swaying — something.”
In this vein, Spinei’s most recent project is her album Ex Voto, a showcase of lilting melodies, driving rhythms, and lush harmonies. It is inspired by the Latin phrase ex voto suscepto, "from the vow made," which refers to an offering to a saint or divinity given in fulfillment of a vow in gratitude or devotion. A pianist from age 9, Cristina often performs her own music, most notably with the Nashville Ballet: she has appeared on stage with the company in 2017 and 2018, and 2020.
Her first album, Music for Dance (Toccata Classics), made its debut in 2016 contains work that blossomed from her collaboration with choreographers, and was characterized by the critic Dean Frey as having a “strong lyrical streak with an open, folk-like feeling and a dollop of pop.” In addition to her own records, Spinei’s music appears on the debut album of Trio Celeste, as well as on St. Michel Strings’ album Adagio, a record nominated for a Latin GRAMMY® Award.
Spinei holds both a Bachelor and Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, where she studied with the Pulitzer Prize winning composer Christopher Rouse.
Trevor Patricia Watkin:
Trevor plays the flute and complains a lot. That's about it.
Wurt- Berger Duo
Alyson Berger and Amy Wurtz have been part of Chicago's new music community for over a decade. After years of crossing paths on various concerts, they decided to combine their talents to perform the contemporary music of this classic duo of instruments. www.WurtzBergerduo.com
A fervent advocate for new music and the community that surrounds and supports it, Amy Wurtz is a performer, composer, and curator of new music based in Chicago. Her recent album, Cello Dances at Night, with the Wurtz-Berger Duo, a cello-piano collaboration with Alyson Berger, features Amy’s work Songs and Dances and was commissioned by the Ear Taxi Festival. Amy has lived and worked in California, throughout the Midwest, South America and Europe. In addition to composing and curation, she is in demand as a solo pianist, chamber and choral musician, teacher, and collaborative pianist. www.amywurtz.com
Ben Zucker practices acts of conceptual juxtaposition and experiential speculation, as an intentionally wide-ranging composer, audiovisual artist, and multi-instrumentalist. He has contributed to experimental music scenes of the Bay Area, Connecticut, London, Chicago, and beyond, working with musicians including Anthony Braxton, Matana Roberts, Myra Melford, Karen Borca, The Crossing, The Vocal Constructivists, Rinde Eckert, and the San Francisco Choral Artists, in addition to frequent performances as a soloist, bandleader, and ensemble contributor. His composed works have received awards and performances by ensembles including the Mivos Quartet, the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, Khorikos, Ensemble Entropy, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, as well as being performed at DOCNYC, the Darmstadt Fereinkurse, Art Omi, Trinity College Dublin, and the Banff Centre. He has been acclaimed as a "master of improvisation" (IMPOSE Magazine) and “more than a little bit remarkable” (Free Jazz Blog) for his solo albums combining brass, percussion, voice, and electronics, released on labels including Not Art Records, Dinzu Artefacts, Verz Imprint, and I Low You. He currently lives in Chicago, studying music, performance, and philosophy as a doctoral student at Northwestern University.