On November 10th, Constellation Chicago’s Frequency Series presented my album release concert for my commercially released album Giantess.  Constellation Chicago is the premiere venue for new music in Chicago, and in fact it is the only venue in town that presents exclusively contemporary music.  I especially love the casual feel of the concert experience at Constellatiuon Chicago with the audience wrapped around the stage.  It feels almost like a larger version of playing for friends in my living room, complete with a glass of wine for guests at the end.  I was thrilled to have friends and family join me for this late night concert and to be able to share this music that I love so much with everyone.

I was especially grateful to the Illinois Arts Council who supported the concert and to respected arts writer Wynne Delacoma who wrote this wonderful review of the concert.  I was so thrilled to see the individual pieces written about with such eloquence.  Chicago musicians have always appreciated the musical expertise of Wynne’s writing.

Here’s a snapshot of the evening as captured by the wonderful Forestt Strong Lafave.  I’d love for you to check out the album Giantess now available on all streaming platforms and sellers everywhere!  (Innova 043)

Performing Misook Kim’s Amazing Grace and Valerie Coleman’s Wish Sonatine with my esteemed Wheaton College colleague Daniel Paul Horn.

Performing Carter Pann’s Melodies for Robert with Paula Kosower, cello, and Jennifer Blyth, piano.  Lush, free, and beautiful playing and writing.

Performing Shulamit Ran’s Birds of Paradise and Carter Pann’s Giantess and Double Espresso with Kuang-Hao Huang, three tons of piano playing for my wonderful partner.

 

Below, performing Augusta Read Thomas’ Plea for Peace with string quartet: Elizabeth Brausa Brathwaite, Kate Carter, Dominic Johnson, and Paula Kosower.  Such gorgeous playing that brought the profoundly expressive yet transparent quality of this piece to the stage.

Carter Pann talks about working together in an impromptu chat with the audience.  I am certain that I will forever consider this to be one of my most meaningful and fun professional projects.

Launching into Double Espresso… and thinking about that high E I’ll hit at the end!

The second concert of our series “New Music Chicago Presents” was a fabulous showcase of the music of composer Marc Mellits.  As the first recipient of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Artspace Program Grant, the series is held each month on the THIRD THURSDAY at noon in the Chicago Cultural Center’s beautiful Claudia Cassidy Theater.  “New Music Chicago Presents” features New Music Chicago members performing music written since 2000 by living composers.

Marc’s program included:

Max for Violin & Piano (2013)
Agu for solo piano (2004)
String Quartet No. 4: Prometheus, movement VII – allegro groove” (2011)
Farfalle Cotte for 2 violins (2006)
Mara’s Lullaby for Violin & Piano (2005/09)
Titan for Bass Clarinet & String Quartet (2018) – CHICAGO PREMIERE

 

 

Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events giving a warm welcome to “New Music Chicago Presents…” audience and New Music Chicago members.

Introducing the concert…

Artists on stage: Cristina Buciu, Elizabeth Brausa-Brathwaite, Aurelian Pederzoli, Nicholas Carlson, Victor Sotelo, composer Marc Mellits, Marie Alatalo, Jennifer Blyth.

 

The Chicago Premiere of TITAN for Bass Clarinet and String Quartet.

I could not be more thrilled that Howard Reich, Music Critic of the Chicago Tribune, chose to feature New Music Chicago Presents…  the concert series that I developed and curate.

Join us every THIRD THURSDAY at NOON each month for contemporary music written since 2000 by living composers!  Every concert is free and held in Claudia Cassidy Theater at the Chicago Cultural Center – 78 E Washington.  I would love to see you there!

 

Picosa performed for Live from WFMT with Kerry Frumkin last night with an illustrious audience of guests.  It was a wonderful broadcast filled with interesting conversations.  If you’d like to listen, feel free to click here.

PROGRAM:

Debussy – Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, transcribed by Jonathon Kirk

Turina – Cìrculo Trio, Op 91

Ran – Mirage

Haydn – London Trio No. 1 in C Major

Copland – Appalachian Spring, transcribed by Jonathon Kirk

MUSICIANS:

Andrea DiOrio, clarinets

Elizabeth Brausa Brathwaite, violin

Kurt Fowler, cello

Kuang-Hao Huang, piano

Jonathon Kirk, Composer-in-Residence

Kasia Johnson, Executive Board President

and myself!

April and May were unusual months for me on the publishing front!  In April, I enjoyed being interviewed by Julie Marcotte, editor of Pipeline Magazine and local professional, to talk about the juggling act that so many of us share who manage both families and careers.  It was fun to speak openly about the fun and struggles of these two aspects of my life that are so precious to me.

In the May issue of Flute Talk Magazine, editor Patricia George asked me to contribute a “Meet the Pro” column on any topic of my choosing.  So, I chose something that I thought might be useful to a broad segment of our flutist population: performance anxiety.  I hope that readers found it useful!

If you are not already a member of the Chicago Flute Club and/or a subscriber to Flute Talk Magazine, I highly recommend both!  I learn so much every time I read a Pipeline or a Flute Talk Magazine, and the communities of flutists who contribute to both of these periodicals and the Chicago Flute Club are dedicated accomplished professionals.  Check them out!

The free Chamber Mondays Series hosts an interesting variety of musicians and musical styles. Concerts are held every Monday at 12:15 pm in the breathtaking Preston Bradley Hall of the Chicago Cultural Center. Concerts are sponsored by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). Chamber Monday concerts are a great lunch break if you work or attend school downtown. These concerts are also an excellent opportunity for music students to network, watch and learn from professional musicians.

Classical music needs to evolve in order to stay relevant and attract new, younger audiences. Ensembles like Picosa help expand the definition and perception of “classical” music. Picosa looks forward by choosing to play the works of contemporary composers using contemporary technologies. Picosa links the present and future with the past through it’s performance of standard works composed by the “masters” of classical music. Visit PicosaMusic.com to learn more about Picosa.

Picosa played to a receptive and appreciative audience. Picosa’s performances were well rehearsed and professionally presented (even though the room seemed unusually cold). I enjoyed the diversity of music they performed. It’s always exciting to discover something new during my exploration of Chicago’s music scene. Picosa performed works by a number of contemporary composers I had not previously heard of. Jonathon Kirks arrangement of Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun worked very nicely for the Picosa ensemble. My wife and I both enjoyed the concert. I highly recommend you schedule time to see a Picosa performance.

Mondays performance included a unique opportunity to hear flutist Jennie Brown perform “Wraith” accompanied by the composer Jonathon Kirk. Jonathon Kirk used contemporary digital effects technologies to interact and react in real time to Jennie Browns live, electronically modified flute performance. What makes this type of performance especially unique and interesting is it can never be performed exactly the same way twice. Cool! They both did a great job.

Picosa:

  • Jennie Brown, flute
  • Andrea R. DiOrio, clarinet
  • Elizabeth Brausa Brathwaite, violin
  • Sara Sitzer, cello
  • Jeffrey Panko, piano
  • Joann Cho, piano
  • Jonathon Kirk, composer, electroncs

Picosa performed:

Hospital Suite for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano by Felipe Perez Santiago
– Vesiculobiliar
– Neurocardiogenico

Wraith for flute and electronics by Jonathon Kirk

Circulo, op. 91 for violin, cello, piano by Joaquin Turina
– Dawn
– Midday
– Dusk

Three Miniatures for clarinet and piano by Krzysztof Penderecki
– Allegro
– Andante cantabile
– Allegro ma non troppo

Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano by Claude Debussy. Arranged by Jonathon Kirk.

FULL ARTICLE

I’m incredibly grateful to the many listeners of my new CD “Looking Back: Flute Music of Joseph Schwanter” (Innova Recordings #919, 2015) and for the following enthusiastic responses.  To purchase a copy, please click on the album cover image below.

“As evidenced by this album, Jennie Oh Brown really understands Schwantner’s compositional intent, and her playing reflects the beauty, intensity, rawness, and virtuosity his music requires. She excels in changing characters rapidly, and her beautiful, expressive sound is perfectly suited to Schwantner’s emotional, lyrical, and acrobatic music.” Jennifer Slaughter, National Flute Association, Flutists Quarterly, Fall 2016

“Superlative performances…”  Christian Carey, Sequenza 21, 2015

Featured on Relevant Tones, 2016, WFMT, with host Seth Boustead

Honorable Mention, Best Classical Music Recordings of 2015 , George Grella, The Big City Blog, 2016

“Brown plays Schwantner with firm technique and clear soaring sound. She understands the music and plays with conviction and joy!” Barbara Siesel, The Flute View, 2015.

“[C]ontemporary pieces ranging from melodic, ethereal to forceful. All interesting!” WRUV, Burlington, VT, 2015.

“In Looking Back, for flute and piano, the outer movements affect a rhythmic pulse, constant and gradually changing, which brings a dynamism that does not obscure, but rather is combined with catchy melodies, subtly tinged with melancholy, intertwined with balanced and pungent interplay of the two musicians. In the slow middle movement the flutist sings with an even voice, a mournful and virtuosic singing.” (translated from Italian) Filippo Focosi, Kathodik, 2015

“Brown, the flute professor at Elmhurst College, is to be applauded for assembling these musicians to beautifully perform the works of Schwantner.  If you are looking for new repertoire, this CD offers several excellent choices.”  Patricia George, Flute Talk, 2016.

“The musicians care about the music, and they put a lot of energy and expression into it.” Stephen Estep, American Record Guide, 2016.

Our third session of Credo Flute will be held on July 24 – 29, 2017 on the beautiful campus of Elmhurst College!  More news to come!

Daily schedule includes intensive masterclasses in solo repertoire, ILMEA preparation, technique, and orchestral excerpts for flute and piccolo in symphonic and operatic literature, in addition to comprehensive strategies for success in high school, collegiate, and professional level auditions.

 

I am so incredibly grateful to Jennifer Slaughter whose thoughtful review of my Innova album “Flute Music by Joseph Schwantner” was featured in the most recent edition of the National Flute Association’s Flutist Quarterly (Fall 2016).

“As evidenced by this album, Jennie Oh Brown really understands Schwantner’s compositional intent, and her playing reflects the beauty, intensity, rawness, and virtuosity his music requires. She excels in changing characters rapidly, and her beautiful, expressive sound is perfectly suited to Schwantner’s emotional, lyrical, and acrobatic music.”

It’s been such a joy to showcase these fabulous works by Pulitzer Prize winner and former Eastman faculty member Joseph Schwantner, and I sincerely hope we see these move into the standard repertoire. They are incredibly fun to play and dynamic additions to any concert program! More details to come, but I’m especially thrilled to present all of these works (Black Anemones, Soaring, Looking Back, and Silver Halo) together with his fabulous Taking Charge for flute, percussion, and piano, which was written to celebrate my former teacher and mentor Walfrid Kujala, at Constellation Chicago on May 21, 2017. Hope you’ll join me and my fabulous friends to hear this great repertoire!

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