Ear Taxi Festival highlights UChicago’s contribution to new music in Chicago

Nora Semel
Director of External Relations for UChicago Arts and the Logan CenterUniversity Communications, UChicago Arts

The Ear Taxi Festival—a first-of-its-kind celebration of contemporary music in Chicago—will send listeners on a joy ride through Chicago’s vibrant contemporary music scene from Oct. 5 to 10. Spearheaded by renowned composer and UChicago faculty member Augusta Read Thomas and co-curated by Thomas and acclaimed trumpeter Stephen Burns, the festival will feature 300 musicians and 53 world premieres in its six jam-packed days of concerts, lectures, marathons, webcasts and artist receptions.

“We want to take your ears on a wide variety of ‘taxi rides’ through the world of contemporary music,” explained Thomas, University Professor of Composition in Music and the College. “At every concert, you’ll hear a mix of ensembles and musical styles that reflect the incredible depth and breadth of new music both here in Chicago and beyond.”

The Ear Taxi Festival will be Chicago’s first large-scale, nationally recognized festival of new music, with plans to present the work of 75 Chicago-based composers, and performances by 39 Chicago-based ensembles and soloists at venues that include the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance, the Chicago Cultural Center, Constellation, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago.

A series of “meet the artists” events will feature moderated panel discussions and cocktails at the Harris Theater. New Music USA will host a NewMusicBox LIVE! event focused on Chicago-based composers for a national online audience.

The festival will feature some of the most innovative composers and performers in contemporary music, such as Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Third Coast Percussion, Ensemble Dal Niente, Gustavo Leone, Amy Wurtz and Nicole Mitchell.

More than 20 members of the UChicago community will participate in the Ear Taxi Festival. Thomas’ colleagues—Asst. Prof. Anthony Cheung; Marta Ptaszynska, the Helen B. & Frank L. Sulzberger Professor of Music and the Humanities; and Shulamit Ran, the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus—will each have world-premiere compositions at the festival, alongside University Carillonneur Joey Brink and many current students and alumni. Asst. Prof. Seth Brodsky is on the Ear Taxi Festival’s curatorial board and will moderate a panel discussion.

“The University of Chicago is pleased and proud to support the Ear Taxi Festival, an unprecedented event that will bring together both emerging and renowned contemporary classical composers and musicians—many affiliated with UChicago—to dramatize the remarkable vitality of this art form in our city,” said Bill Brown, deputy provost for the arts.

In addition to performers and composers, the Ear Taxi Festival brings together partners, including the Alice M. Ditson Fund at Columbia University, the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, the University of Chicago, and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, among many other supporters.

For the full schedule and more information on artists participating in the festival, visit the Ear Taxi Festival website.