Author Archives: Consortium

Unsupervised at Ear Taxi Festival

Celebrate the Ear Taxi Festival with the Chicago Composers’ Consortium on October 4!
We are delighted to be partnering with the group Unsupervised in the upcoming supernova of new music! Five of us – Laura, Kyong Mee, Larry, Betsy and Martha – will have works on this exciting early-afternoon program for large mixed chamber ensemble. This much anticipated.concert is the opening of our 2021-22 season. 
Please join us. It’s free, but you do need to register through the Ear Taxi website because of Covid-related seating restrictions.
Laura Schwendinger: Celestial Bodies
Kyong Mee Choi: MOMENT
Lawrence Axelrod: Of Wind and Sky
Elizabeth Start: O, Aedicatio; O, Vita
Martha Horst: Quiltage

Monday, October 4, 2021 — 1:45 to 2:30 pm

Hannah Christiansen, violin
Rebecca Boelzner, viola
Juan José Horie Phoebus, cello
Joe Bauer, bass
Autumn Selover, harp
Suzanne Hannau, flute
Erick Alverez, clarinet
Mark Haworth, trumpet
Riley Leitch, trombone
Rebecca McDaniel, percussion

NMC Presents C3 at Nevermore 7/20 7:30pm

We will be performing our final concert of the 20/21 season on Tuesday evening, July 20 7:30 PM at the Nevermore Performance Space, 3411 W. North Ave in Chicago. This concert is part of the New Music Chicago Presents series. It will feature Elizabeth Start, cello, Amos Gillespie, saxophone and Lawrence Axelrod, piano. The program is all works by members of the CCC:

Amos Gillespie                  Ellipses (2020)
Laura Schwendinger        Air from Magic Carpet Ride (2001)
Elizabeth Start                   Verdisimilitude (1998)
Lawrence Axelrod             Piano Games (2017)
Tim Edwards                      Cello Cycles (2004)
Martha Horst                     Movement III from Summer Sonata (2004/2007)

It is a fun, dynamic and varied program. You can attend in person for free!! The large space will be set up for a small number of chairs to keep all attendees at a safe distance. You may also watch online through any of New Music Chicago’s portals on YouTube etc,

We hope to see you either in person or virtually for a great “home-grown” program by the CCC!C3 collage image plus logo lo res

Quintet Attacca performs the music of C3 composers – *corrected time: 8pm*


Date: Sunday, June 6, 2021
Time: 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM
Where: Constellation (3111 N. Western Ave.)

In-person Tickets

Online viewing

Our final concert for the 2020-21 season will be a reprise program with our friends in Quintet Attacca. They will play a fun program of very diverse woodwind quintet works that they performed in Evanston several years ago, plus a new work by Kathleen Ginther. This will be a part of the Frequency Series at Constellation on Sunday, June 6 at 8:00 pm Central Time.


You will be able to attend this concert live!! We are delighted that restrictions have eased enough so we can welcome 68 (and only 68!) lucky people into Constellation for the event. For those at a distance or who are still wary about indoor concert-going, the event will be live-streamed through the Constellation website. TO ATTEND IN PERSON YOU MUST BUY TICKETS AHEAD OF TIME! Because the venue has to assign seats to comply with Covid restrictions, tickets must be purchased ahead of time so they can place people either as single ticket buyers or pairs. Because the CCC and QA are so happy to be able to have a live audience, we have decided that tickets will be $5 – a sort of “thank you for continuing to be a part of our world” offering.


The program will include:


Kathleen Ginther,            Six Haiku (premiere)
Elizabeth Start,             Gibbons: Musings on Orlando, Euell, and the Lesser Apes (2016)
Lawrence Axelrod,         Fits and Starts (2016)
Martha Horst,             Flicker (2016)
Timothy Dwight Edwards,     Attacca (2016)
Kyong Mee Choi,         ever-present (2016)
Timothy Ernest Johnson,         Searching for Sean Ison (2016)


We look forward to welcoming you back into the concert hall with this great event and our good friends in Quintet Attacca!


Constellation Covid policies:

* Updated Date * Artemisia Vocal Trio performs new works by the Chicago Composers Consortium

For our first concert of 2021, the Chicago Composers’ Consortium is delighted to be collaborating with the local vocal group Artemisia Vocal Trio - Kaitlin Foley, Alexandra Olsavsky, and Diana Lawrence – with the added participation of Beena David.

The concert will be broadcast on Friday, April 30 at 7:30 pm Central Time on the CCC’s own YouTube channel (Concert Link). It will feature seven works for vocal trio and quartet by CCC composers Kyong Mee Choi, Kathleen Ginther, Martha Horst, Timothy Ernest Johnson, Laura Schwendinger and Elizabeth Start. Most of these pieces are premieres. The singers will also talk about their experience with the different compositions as part of the program.

This performance will NOT have the performers stitched together! The singers of Artemisia decided to be their own pod during the pandemic, so they have been able to rehearse and perform together. Therefore, despite the fact that the program will be recorded without an audience in Ganz Hall for broadcast, it will be a like an in-person concert in every other way.

Over the course of the 30+ year history of the Consortium, we have only rarely worked with vocal groups. We are happy to be remedying this notable lack with a fresh exciting program in April.

Please mark your calendar and plan to join us for this unique program by a dynamic, young, local group!

What: Chicago Composers’ Consortium presents the Artemisia Trio
When: Friday, April 30 7:30
Where: The YouTube Channel of the Chicago Composers’ Consortium

Featured Works:

Pale Courage by Kyong Mee Choi

Give Sorrow Words by Kathleen Ginther

Hand Games by Martha Horst

Un jour de les voix des femmes by Timothy Ernest Johnson

STARS and All Those That Love You by Laura Schwendinger

Uncertain Futures by Elizabeth Start

To pique your interest even further about this concert, here are a few words by the composers about their pieces.

Martha – As a little girl growing up in twentieth century America, I learned hand games on the playground and from my mother, who learned them when growing up in the Appalachian Mountains. All third grade girls knew multiple moves, songs, rhythms, and patterns for various songs. The songs in my work titled Hand Games are a celebration of this rich American folk music tradition.

Tim J- In my “Un jour de les voix des femmes”, Emily Dickinson’s beautiful poem “A Day” acts as a frame around a musical exploration of other poems by Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Sophie d’Arbouville. I hope that Artemisia finds the perfect vehicle for their fun, eclectic and socially relevant approach to performance and repertoire in this music.

Kyong Mee – <Pale Courage> is a true story about the composer’s grand-aunt who chose starvation to death to fight for her dream to be educated and independent instead of being forced to marry a man who she did not know. Her father’s refusal and denial to accept her wish to go to school continued as well as her hunger strike, which led to her death. The composer wrote the text of the piece. This story also becomes the 3-act Opera, <Pale Courage> which is in the work-in-progress.

Betsy – In addition to real life and death struggles, this past year has included soul-searching on personal and national/international levels, refocusing discussions, and hope of re-imagined future dynamics, all of which are uncertain at this time. All three of the Conrad Hilberry poems I set here  present situations where the future is anticipated, but the realities unknown. The first tells us “when I’m hungry enough….. I will know what the goat knows”, but what is that? The second, looking at a relationship of two people with analogs to geometry, ends wondering if their lines will converge into a point or diverge obtusely. The final poem sets “moon” as a “metaphor for what we leave unsaid”, and the poem ends with the moon, “appalling”, about to speak.

Laura – STARS for four woman’s voices and set to a poem by the Canadian Marjorie Pickthall Pickthall published much of her work while she was still young, and died at only 39. John Garvin, writing in Canadian Poets, “evident that a genius of a rare order had appeared in Canadian literature.’’ (A) writer of pain and presence whom we all, male and female alike, ought to read” In my setting, I have sought to capture the exquisite beauty of the heavens, and that feeling we all have when we look up at the stars in awe but also how small and alone it can make us feel in the face of the utter vastness. ALL THOSE WHO LOVE YOU is for Woman’s Voices, from the Songs of Solomon, is about spiritual and romantic love. It is from my six Choral settings, commissioned by the Marsh Chapel Choir and was performed by them at Carnegie Hall in 2012. These two settings are paired to capture two kinds of wonder, human love and transcendental awe.

KC – In addition to the universal sorrow and grief of the past year, ’Give Sorrow Words’ had a more specific impetus – an article in Vanity Fair by Ta-Nihisi Coates about Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor. This article affected me deeply. I was blown away by the courage of this woman in facing the unimaginable loss of her daughter. I wrote ‘Give Sorrow Words’ thinking of all the mothers, and all the fathers, and everyone who has lost a child during this year of tragedy. The words are by Shakespeare and Rumi.


Spektral Floating Lounge with C3 Composers

spektral.vertical.bwOur concert with the Spektral Quartet – The Bernard Rands Effect – finally has a performance date: March 2, 2022. This is actually Bernard’s birthday and we are looking forward to giving him our long-postponed gift! This wonderful program will feature a short new string quartet by Bernard and eight responses by CCC composers. It’s hard to beat nine premieres played by the Spektrals in one evening! We will update time and location soon.

In the meantime, as preambles for the March concert, we will be doing three of Spektral Quartet’s very popular Floating Lounge programs, each one featuring two of our composers, an excerpt of their quartets for this program and conversation. They are fun online events and have proven very popular.
The dates are:
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Wednesday, January 12, 2022

All programs are at 7:30 PM. They are free, but you must register through the Spektral Quartet website.

Chicago Composers Consortium Electro-Acoustic Concert, Oct 29, 2020 7:30 p.m.

Easily accessed from your favorite armchair for free!


Joao Oliveira La Mer Emeraude (2018) for fixed media

Kyong Mee Choi, Until Heard (2019) for piano and electronics

Mitch Weakley, Synthetechnica (2020) for electronics (premiere)

Timothy Ernest Johnson, Lituus (2020) for 2 clarinets and 4 guitars


Eric Mandat Chiral Symmetries (2013)
I. Stars Twinkle, Planets Shine
IV. Origins
VI. The Universe Stops Expanding Briefly to Offer Advice

Mengmeng Wang, Formulas (2020) (premiere) for clarinet and electronics

Kathleen Ginther, The Air Between

Eric Mandat, The Isoletudes (2020)


Biographies & Program Notes (Program order)

Composer João Pedro Oliveira holds the Corwin Endowed Chair in Composition for the University of California at Santa Barbara. He studied organ performance, composition and architecture in Lisbon. He completed a PhD in Music at the University of New York at Stony Brook. His music includes opera, orchestral compositions, chamber music, electroacoustic music and experimental video. He has received over 50 international prizes and awards for his works, including three Prizes at Bourges Electroacoustic Music Competition, the prestigious Magisterium Prize and Giga-Hertz Special Award, 1st Prize in Metamorphoses competition, 1st Prize in Yamaha-Visiones Sonoras Competition, 1st Prize in Musica Nova competition. He taught at Aveiro University (Portugal) and Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil). His publications include several articles in journals and a book on 20th century music theory.

La Mer Émeraude (2018): Let us imagine a small invented world, a micro universe where everything exists… matter, energy, spirit, telluric movements, mysteries, natural and supernatural forces. That world is whole and from afar, whoever watches, sees it as a living ocean. This work was composed in the Musiques-Recherches studio and is dedicated to Annette Vande Gorne and Francis Dhomont. It received the second prize at SIME Competition 2019, the first Prize at Cittá di Udine Competition 2020, the first prize at Destellos Competition 2020 and the first prize at Chicago Composers Consortium Competition.


Kyong Mee Choi, composer, organist, painter, poet, and visual artist, received several prestigious awards including John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, Robert Helps Prize, Aaron Copland Award, John Donald Robb Musical Trust Fund Commission, Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, First prize of ASCAP/SEAMUS Award among others. Her music was published at Ablaze, CIMESP (São Paulo, Brazil), SCI, EMS, ERM media, SEAMUS, and Détonants Voyages (Studio Forum, France). She is the Head of Music Composition at Roosevelt University in Chicago where she teaches composition and electro-acoustic music. Samples of her works are available at

Until Heard for piano and electronics depicts the awe of nature. Natural sounds such as rain, birds, thunder, ocean reflect our appreciation of the planet. The main piano melody that is recurring throughout the piece implies our awareness to recognize the beauty of nature. The composer hopes humanity to bring consciousness to conserve the planet that has been damaged through human desire and greed. The piece is dedicated to Lawrence Axelrod for his 60th birthday.

A review in Opera News states that Lawrence Axelrod is “a … composer whose fresh and distinctive music deserves to be more widely known.” He is a composer, pianist and conductor. Mr Axelrod’s musical activities have taken him around the United States, Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. His works were performed by ~Nois, the London Sylvan Ensemble, Clocks in Motion, The Chicago Composers Orchestra. His music was included in the Sound of Silent Film Festival by Access Contemporary Music. Mr. Axelrod is a founder and current member of the Chicago Composers’ Consortium and the creator of Opera Adventures.


Mitch Weakley composes dynamic and narrative music in all genres and has a special affinity for electroacoustic music. His compositions have received recognition in performance at conferences and festivals around the country, and in 2015 he was awarded the SEAMUS Allen Strange National Memorial Award. He began composing music in 2005, creating mostly works for rock band or trumpet, his first instrument. He later expanded his compositional repertoire to include more diverse ensembles such as choir, brass ensemble, and strings. During his undergraduate degree he began to learn and write in the electroacoustic genre and since then, electroacoustic music has become a major focus of his compositional output. Mitch holds a Bachelor’s in Music Education from Eastern Illinois University, and a Master’s in Music Composition from the Roosevelt University Chicago College of Performing Arts.

Through experimentation with synthesizers, creating sounds and manipulating presets, I began to develop a library of source materials. These sounds lent themselves to layering and phrasing in such a way that a musical form began to come together intuitively. This initial musical structure then informed more intentional compositional choices and further digital processing, resulting in Synthetechnica, originally composed for 4-channel fixed media playback.


The music of Chicago composer Timothy Ernest Johnson has been performed internationally by some of the world’s best musicians including Winston Choi, the Pianissimo, Ensemble Mise-en, Ensemble Paramirabo, Illinois Modern Ensemble, Chicago Composers Orchestra, Due East, and Ensemble Dal Niente. Johnson has received numerous awards, including Finalist in the Alea III competition. As a classical guitarist, Johnson has performed recitals in North America, Europe and Asia, premiered numerous works, and made two Brazilian jazz recordings with the group Desafinado. Johnson is also a noted researcher in microtonality, and spent several years helping the Kepler String Quartet record Ben Johnston’s music.

Lituus is a partly algorithmic composition based on a mathematical lituus equation that graphs a spiral pattern looking roughly like a treble clef. The music is structured in spiralling pitch patterns, in a tuning space of eighth tones. The guitars have also been restrung to create an expanded tessitura (essentially the range of the cello). The original lituus “was a crooked wand used as a cult instrument in ancient Roman religion by augurs to mark out a ritual space in the sky.” (Wikipedia) Expressively, the composition references the drama of predicting the future in a public ritual in the presence of a powerful ruling official, during which the behavior of the natural world is interpreted as an omen for good or ill. The sense of anxiety and desire for reassurance about contemporary events also informs the expressive elements of the music.


Eric Mandat is recognized worldwide as one of the foremost authorities on clarinet extended techniques. He tours frequently worldwide as a concert soloist. For 15 seasons he was a member of the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW ensemble. Eric is Visiting Professor of Clarinet and Distinguished Scholar at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He received the 1999 SIU Outstanding Scholar Award, the university’s highest honor for research/creative work.

Chiral Symmetries traverses a universe rife with elements simultaneously identical and antipodal.

The improvisations in The Isoletudes reflect on the storm cloud of COVID this spring, and humanity’s ebb and flow of uncertainty.


Mengmeng Wang is a DMA composition dissertator at University of Wisconsin-Madison and studies composition with Professor Laura Schwendinger. She received her Master of Music in Composition from Shanghai Conservatory of music. She is the winner Mead Witter School of Music Concerto Competition. She has won awards at 1st eARTS Digital Audio China Competition and the 4th Chinese National Music Exhibition and Performance etc. Her music was performed in Glasow UK, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Ithaca (NY), June in Buffalo (NY) etc.

Formulas is inspired by 3 chemical reactions, Hot ice, BZ reaction, and Copper and Nitric Acid reaction. The electronic track is divided into 3 sections in order to correspond to these 3 chemical reactions. The common structure of the molecules in the 3 reactions is , which also becomes a structure of the chords in the piece. The development of pitch materials depends on the process of atom binding in these chemical reactions. The breaking and recombining of chemical bonds make substance transform from one to another. The music language’s changing and moving just mimic this process.


Kathleen Ginther’s music has been performed in Italy, England, Scotland, Holland, China, Japan and Brazil, and across the United States. She has been awarded multiple Illinois Arts Council Fellowships and is the focus of a composer portrait on ‘Arts Across Illinois’, produced by WTTW (Channel 11). As President and Program Director of American Women Composers Midwest in Chicago, she presented concerts and worked with other performing and presenting groups to integrate music by women into their repertoires. A member of the Chicago Composers’ Consortium, she is the Founder and former Director of Outside The Box, an annual Festival of New Music at Southern Illinois University.

The Air Between is characterized by a juxtaposition of various kinds of contrasts: soft/loud, slow/fast, high/low, pitched/nonpitched. It was written for my friend and colleague Eric Mandat, with whom I had the pleasure of working for many years at Southern Illinois University, and is dedicated to him, with the deepest admiration and affection.



The Chicago Composers’ Consortium will continue its tradition of presenting a concert celebrating electro-acoustic works on October 29 at 7:30 PM. This program will be in a virtual format in conjunction with Experimental Sound Studio.

Clarinetist and composer Eric Mandat, a longtime friend of the CCC, is our featured guest. He will play three movements of his 2013 work Chiral Symmetries and an excerpt of his new work The Isoletudes. Eric will also play a new work by emerging composer Mengmeng Wang titled Formulas and a work by Consortium member Kathleen Ginther, The Line Between, that was written specifically for him. Lituus for 2 clarinets, 4 guitars and video by Timothy Ernest Johnson was also written specifically for this occasion.

Another emerging composer, Mitch Weakley, will premiere his Synthetechnica for fixed media.

We are also delighted to present the beautiful and imaginative work La Mer Émeraude for fixed media by Joao Oliveira, which won the 2020 Chicago Composers Consortium Composition Competition. This exceptional piece was chosen from among 49 entries from around the world.

Two other premieres will round out this varied program. Until Heard, for piano and electronics, by Kyong Mee Choi, and a new work by Timothy Edwards for electronics with video.

Please join us for this exciting online presentation of some of the newest works on the planet!

CCC and Spektral Quartet on The Floating Lounge with C3 composers Martha Horst and Laura Schwendinger











We’re delighted to announce a joint online event with the Spektral String Quartet. The event will take place on June 17 at 7:30 PM Central Time. It will feature two of our composers – Laura Elise Schwendinger and Martha C. Horst – talking about the pieces that they wrote for the Spektral Quartet as part of the Bernard Rands Effect concert that was to happen on April 19, but was necessarily postponed. The Spektrals have recorded and pieced together excerpts from both Laura’s and Martha’s piece, which will be presented along with conversation with both composers. It should be a fun and interesting hour that will whet your appetite to hear the whole program when it happens!

The event is free, but you DO need to register. Please follow this link :

Another great way to support us at no cost is with Amazon Smile. When you make your next purchase at Amazon, sign in using the URL instead of the usual way. Here, you can choose the CCC to be the recipient of a percentage of your purchase with no extra cost to you! Win/win!

Thanks for your support and we look forward to seeing you (virtually) on June 17!
Larry Axelrod, president, with Kyong Mee, Tim E, Amos, KC, Martha, Tim J, Laura and Betsy

p.s. We are delighted to announce that eminent composer, saxophonist and educator Amos Gillespie has joined our ranks!

CCC and Spektral Quartet on The Floating Lounge
with C3 composers Martha Horst and Laura Schwendinger
June 17 at 7:30 PM Central

CCC and Spektral Quartet at Constellation – POSTPONED


Bernard Rands Effect Concert Postponement

We are sorry to announce the postponement of our April 19 concert featuring the music of Bernard Rands and eight of our CCC members, due to ongoing health concerns. Both the Spektral Quartet and the Chicago Composers’ Consortium are eager to get this concert in front of an audience as soon as is possible. The exciting combination of a premiere by Bernard Rands and the responses to this new piece by our composers still feels as fun, exciting, and musically enriching as ever.

We will update you on a new date for this concert, as well as plans for our 20/21 season, as soon as they become clear. In the meantime, please keep listening to new music! Support all of your musician friends who are struggling through this crisis. We are all itching both to perform and be part of an audience again very soon!


Annual Electro-acoustic music concert

Sam Pluta Photo

Friday, February 21 at 7:30 in Ganz Hall, we will present our annual concert of electro-acoustic music.  Noted local composer Sam Pluta will be our guest for this program, His works Triptych for EF and Points Against Fields for bassoon and electronics will be featured. Also on the program include Unfolding for flute and electronics by Tim Edwards, Steel Plan for lead steel pan, vibraphone and electronics by Tim Johnson, Vanished for harp and electronics by Kyong Mee Choi and Whispers and Secrets, an installation piece by Beth Bradfish. Performers for this program include Ben Roidl-Ward, bassoon, Ben Melsky, harp and Lisa Goethe-McGinn, flute.

Also on the concert will be a work by the winner of this year’s call for scores, Panayiotis Kokoras, and our runner-up John Gibson, chosen from among 59 entries from all over the world.

Please join us for this celebration of one of the cutting edges of new music!