Five Studies in Black and White 2017


Music for two pianos

pianosLawrence Axelrod and Sebastian Huydts, pianists

For our final concert of the 2016/17 season, the Chicago Composers’ Consortium will present pianist-composers Lawrence Axelrod and Sebastian Huydts in a program of music for two pianos. This lesser-known keyboard repertoire offers amazing sonic possibility, especially in this exciting collection of 20th and 21st century pieces. Lawrence Axelrod’s As Summer Wanes, an elegaic work that explores both extended techniques and gentle lyricism, will receive its premiere. Sebastian Huydts’ substantial Fifth Sonata, with powerful echoes of Shostakovich and Spanish music, will finish the program. The classic repertoire is a delightful mix of styles. Debussy’s exquisite En blanc et noir shows great breadth of compositional and emotional range, from joyous to intensely personal to fun. Britten also juxtaposed seriousness and fun in his Introduction and Rondo alla burlesca. Frank Martin’s Overture and Foxtrot contrasts a highly organized sonata-form movement and a jazz/popular dance-inspired movement with highly individual melody and tonality.

Please join us for this wide-ranging and exciting program!

Thursday, May 18, 7:30 pm
Sherwood Conservatory Concert Hall
1312 S Michigan Ave

Lawrence Axelrod ~ As Summer Wanes (world premiere)
Sebastian Huydts ~ Fifth Sonata, op. 39 (for two pianos)
Claude Debussy ~ En blanc et noir
Benjamin Britten ~ Introduction and Rondo alla Burlesca
Frank Martin ~ Overture and Foxtrot


Chicago Composers Orchestra premières five Chicago works


Chicago Stories happens Saturday, April 22, with five orchestral world premieres about Chicago specially commissioned for this concert, all by composers associated with Chicago. The Consortium teams up with the Chicago Composers Orchestra, a Chicago-based 40-member orchestra that is dedicated to presenting works by living composers.

buckingham fountainKyong Mee Choi’s Water Bloom II is inspired by the Clarence F. Buckingham Memorial Fountain in Chicago. Originally the piece, Water Bloom, was written for two pianos and eight hands. Water Bloom II used most of the ideas from the original piece while some sections were altered in order to add more colorful expressions. The image of multi-layered water spreading during a sunny day was the main inspiration of the work.

wdTimothy Johnson’s Logan Square: Tough Neighborhood, from From Jørgensen to Johnson is based on the family history of the composer in the city of Chicago. It is a loving tribute to his family: Danish immigrants to Chicago in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, evoking the life they faced in old Chicago in all its brutality and beauty.

The structure of Martha Horst’s Cloud Gate directly correlates to the structure of Kapoor’s sculpture of the same name.

oceanie_la_merOcéanie La Mer by Laura Schwendinger is inspired by Matisse’s work of the same name, a weaving exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The composer relates: “Living near the lake in Lincoln Park, it struck me how much like an inland sea it was, larger than any lake I had ever lived near, it reminded me more of the Ocean as I remembered it when growing up in the Bay Area. On one of my frequent visits to the Art Institute, I was able to see this work of Matisse. The water evoked by the work, inspired this musical depiction of undulating waves, above the dark waters below filled with mysterious underwater creatures.”

Elizabeth Start’s With the Flow: Musings on the Chicago River takes inspiration from Smetana’s Moldau while referencing the Chicago River’s history and changes of flow, with brief vignettes that reference locations along its path.

Having just come from the Composing in the Wilderness experience in Alaska last summer, it was jarring to think of writing a piece “about” something related to a big city like Chicago.  I found a compromise in the river, which can inspire so many relationships connected to nature, history, geography, and in this case, engineering.  This piece is by no means inclusive of all these things, but influenced by all.  It may be expanded at some point in the near future to delve more deeply into some of these ideas, but presently it is at times a whirlwind sampling of Chicago River imagery, which I hope will be entertaining to listen to. —Elizabeth Start


Concert details

Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 7:30 pm
St. James Cathedral
65 E Huron, Chicago [map]

Chicago Composers Orchestra

focus on Timothy Ernest Johnson’s orchestral piece

Chicago Stories features five premières of orchestral works about the City of Chicago. Among them is From Jørgensen to Johnson by Timothy Ernest Johnson.

daisy and wallyFrom Jørgensen to Johnson is based on my family history in the city of
Chicago. My ancestors were Danish immigrants to the Logan Square
neighborhood during the late 19th Century through the first quarter of
the 20th Century. During this period Logan Square was primarily
Norwegian and Danish. My grandfather’s grandfather Christian Jorgensen
gave rise to three generations of Johnsons, most of whom were raised
in the family home on the 2700 block of North California Ave.

My grandfather’s cousin Rockne Johnson did extensive research into
Johnson family history in Chicago and in Denmark. My musical ideas are
based on stories I read in his book “From Jørgensen to Johnson.” The
piece is meant to evoke this earlier time and the experience of
immigrants growing up in a large, loving family in a tough
neighborhood. There were family sing-a-longs around the piano, a
neighborhood football league called “prarie football” (resulting in
many fights) and the wonders of a city that was modernizing right
before their eyes. These Johnsons would have seen beautiful Logan
Boulevard and the Illinois Centennial Monument being built, among many
other things.

The family was not without tragedy as well, losing my grandfather’s
beloved Uncle Alvin and Aunt Daisy to appendicitis at young ages,
within a few years of each other. I was captivated by the story of
Daisy in particular, the sweetheart of the family, the only girl among
12 children, and whose death at age 15 left a deep and lasting mark on
her family, especially her parents and my grandfather’s beloved Uncle
Wally. Wally was a music lover: classical music, ragtime, waltzes and
musicals. He was the youngest of the 12 and his older sister Daisy was
his protector and confidant. This piece is dedicated to Wally and
Daisy Johnson.



Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 7:30 pm

St. James Cathedral
65 E Huron, Chicago [map]

Chicago Composers Orchestra

focus on Martha Horst’s Cloudgate for orchestra


When one stands underneath the sculpture called Cloudgate (or “the Bean”), one experiences a dizzying, magical feeling of visual distortion and warped reality.  I thought it would be really neat to try to capture that feeling through music. —Martha Horst

The structure of Cloudgate directly correlates to the structure of Kapoor’s sculpture of the same name.

The music forms a palindrome through the repetition of six distinct musical sections (A-B-C-D-E-F-F’-E’-D’-C’-B’-A’ ). Each section features symmetrical motives inspired by the object’s reflective qualities.

During the middle F section, the music mimicks the visual phenomena of the scultpure’s “omphalos” – a concave chamber that warps reflections – through the use of copious extended techniques. The structure of Cloudgate directly correlates to the structure of Kapoor’s sculpture of the same name.

cloudgate-graphic1_600 cloudgate-graphic2_600

Dr. Horst’s composition will be featured in the Chicago Composers’ Orchestra concert Chicago Stories on April 22, 2017 at St. James Cathedral, 65 East Huron, in Chicago. The concert begins at 7:30 pm, and will feature other premieres of compositions about the city of Chicago:

Water Bloom II by Kyong Mee Choi

Logan Square: Tough Neighborhood by Timothy Johnson

Océanie La Mer by Laura Schwendinger

With the Flow: Musings on the Chicago River by Elizabeth Start


Chicago Electro-Acoustic Music Festival features Elainie Lillios and c3 composers

The second day of the Chicago Electro-Acoustic Music Festival features music by several consortium composers: Beth Bradfish, Kyong Mee Choi, Tim Edwards, Casey Ginther, Tim Johson and Betsy Start will all have works presented on Friday, April 7 at 7:30 PM. There will be a panel discussion with the composers including the featured guest composer, Elainie Lillios, preceding the concert at 6:00 PM.


Elainie Lillios’ (featured guest composer) music reflects her fascination with listening, sound, space, time, immersion and anecdote. Her compositions include stereo, multichannel, and Ambisonic fixed media works, instrument(s) with live interactive electronics, collaborative experimental audio/visual animations, and installations. Recent awards include a 2016 Barlow Foundation Commission Award, a 2013-14 Fulbright Scholar appointment in Thessaloniki, Greece, First Prize in the 2009 Concours Internationale de Bourges, Areon Flutes International Composition Competition, Electroacoustic Piano International Competition, and Medea Electronique “Saxotronics” Competition and Second Prize in the 2014 Destellos International Electroacoustic Competition. Her music has also been recognized/awarded by the Concurso Internacional de Música Electroacústica de São Paulo, Concorso Internazionale Russolo, Pierre Schaeffer Competition, and La Muse en Circuit.

She has received grants/commissions from INA/GRM, Rèseaux, International Computer Music Association, La Muse en Circuit, NAISA, ASCAP/SEAMUS, LSU’s Center for Computation and Technology, Sonic Arts Research Centre, Ohio Arts Council, and National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts. She has been a special guest at the Groupe de Recherche Musicales, Rien à Voir, festival l’espace du son, June in Buffalo, and at other locations in the US and abroad. Elainie serves a Director of Composition Activities for the SPLICE institute ( and is Professor of Composition at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Elainie’s acousmatic music is available on Entre Espaces, produced by Empreintes DIGITALes. Other pieces appear on Centaur, MSR Classics, StudioPANaroma, La Muse en Circuit, New Adventures in Sound Art, SEAMUS, Irritable Hedgehog and Leonardo Music Journal.

The World Series moves our concert time!

Cheer on the CCC, Quintet Attacca AND the Cubs this Sunday!

The time of the Sunday October 30  concert has been changed to 2:00 pm in order to avoid conflict with the evening World Series game.


Quintet Attacca
Sunday, October 30, 2016 • 2:00 pm

Nichols Hall
Music Institute of Chicago
1490 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL

$20 general admission / $10 students and seniors

A word from Elizabeth Younan

Elizabeth Younan’s piece Shoreditch Grind is winner of the 2016 c3 competition.

…and the winner is… Shoreditch Grind!

On October 30, Quintet Attacca will feature the winning composition Shoreditch Grind by Elizabeth Younan. The piece is the winner of the Chicago Composers’ Constorium’s first composition competition.

This video shows a performance by the Arcadia Quintet on vimeo.

Concert details:

Sunday, October 30, 2016 • 2:00 pm  (time changed due to the World Series)

Quintet Attacca

at Nichols Hall
Music Institute of Chicago
1490 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL [map]


Elizabeth Younan • Shoreditch Grind

and the following premières:

Elizabeth Start • Gibbons: Musings on Orlando, Euell, and the Lesser Apes
Lawrence Axelrod • Fits and Starts
Martha Horst • Flicker
Timothy Dwight Edwards • Quintet Attacca
Kyong Mee Choi • ever-present
Timothy Ernest Johnson • Searching for Sean Ison

$20 general admission / $10 students and seniors


Quintet Attacca call for scores

We are excited about our call for scores for the October 30 Quintet Attacca performance. Deadline May 28, 2016.

C3 collaboration with Clocks in Motion percussion ensemble!

Clocks in Motion will be giving a concert at Constellation Chicago featuring works by Chicago Composers’ Consortium works including:

T for percussion solo and electronics by Beth Bradfish about the intersection of cross-rhythms and drones. According to Bradfish, “Cross-rhythms represent in some societies the place of conflict in our lives. Drones, in their traditional role, hold the opportunity for finding our center in the midst of strife.”

Timothy Ernest Johnson’s Ritual Dance Spirit, a quartet for percussion instruments of indefinite pitch. Drums, cymbals, wood blocks, and various hand percussion dominate the texture. Inspired by Korean Shaman ritual, New Orleans stomp and Arabic rhythms, the music also incorporates jazz elements in its freedom of embellishment and improvisation.

Lawrence Axelrod’s Emeq, which takes its titles form the Yup’ik (Alaska tribe) word for water. This piece captures water as a sonic experience in three very distinct forms.

In Elizabeth Start’s Spoiler: 5 Disruptive Vignettes “Corrections” involves increasingly insistent reiterations of quarimba pitches (1/4 tone low) and sequences on other instruments that are tuned at the “right” pitch. “Dance Trip” sets up a dance rhythm that gets knocked off balance in various ways. “Culture Shift” takes us from a somewhat Asian inspired atmosphere to a more rigorous Western European approach. “Colateral Damage” begins with a quiet village scene obliterated by heavier forces. “Progress” takes us on a whirlwind history of music, from chant, early organum, Baroque, classical, etc., ending with serialism.

Frequency Series
3111 N. Western Avenue.
Sunday, May 22 8:30 PMClocks in Motion, percussion quartet
A program of new works by members of the Chicago Composers’ Consortium
$15/$10 students and seniors


Clocks in Motion

Clocks in Motion Percussion Ensemble

Hailed as “nothing short of remarkable” ( and “the most exciting addition to Madison’s classical music scene” (The Isthmus), Clocks in Motion is a group that performs new music, builds many of its own instruments, and breaks down the boundaries of the traditional concert program. Formed in 2011, Clocks in Motion is quickly becoming a major artistic force in today’s contemporary music scene. Among its many recent and upcoming engagements, the group served as performers at the Interlochen Arts Academy (MI), The Stone (NY), The Overture Center for the Arts (WI), Casper College (WY), University of Michigan (MI), Baldwin-Wallace University (OH), The University of North Carolina-Pembroke (NC), and The Ewell Concert Series (VA).

With a fearless and uncompromising ear to programming challenging and adventurous contemporary percussion ensemble repertoire, Clocks in Motion consistently performs groundbreaking concerts which involve performance art, theater, and the construction of new instruments. Clocks in Motion’s instrument collection now includes a set of 88 microtonal steel pipes known as the Galvitone, a microtonal marimba known as the Quarimba, and six sets of Sixxen, large metal microtonal keyboard instruments built for Xenakis’ 1979 masterpiece, Pleiades. These instruments serve as a great resource and inspiration to the creation of new music and are useful in the performance of pre-existing works. Featuring world premieres alongside rarely performed classic works, Clocks in Motion strives to create a new canon of percussion repertoire.

Not only known as a virtuosic performing ensemble, Clocks in Motion works passionately to educate young audiences through master classes, residencies, presentations, and school assemblies. The individual members of Clocks in Motion’s unique skill sets and specialties contain an impressive mix of musical styles including, rock, jazz, contemporary classical music, orchestral percussion, marching percussion, and world music styles. Clocks in Motion works regularly with all age groups in accessible hands-on workshops.

Matthew Coley
Chris Jones
Sean Kleve
Garrett Mendelow