Picosa: Chamber Music at its Finest


Chamber Music at its Finest
PC Forestt Strong Lafave


Picosa is a Chicago-based chamber ensemble comprised of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and Composer-in-Residence dedicated to chamber music at its finest. Picosa is committed to great performances of multiple genres, including well-known classical works, that embrace our shared humanity. It is a philosophy that believes that the richest programming comes from assembling as diverse a set of voices as possible, whether crossing boundaries of time, style, or experiences. It’s a wholly inclusive view of art that fuels our innovative programming and expresses our shared sense of soul and common good.

Chamber Music at Its Finest
Performing in studio for Live from WFMT with Kerry Frumkin
Picosa has performed in Chicago’s great series including Live from WFMT with Kerry Frumkin, The Rush Hour Concert Series at St James Cathedral, and Frequency Series at Constellation Chicago. It also has ongoing performances in their self-produced series at DePaul University’s Holtschneider Performance Center and in collaboration with Epiphany Center for the Arts and The Driehaus Museum. The ensemble also holds collegiate residencies at North Central College and Elmhurst University and guest residencies throughout the Chicago area. Please visit PicosaMusic.com.


In 2014, my very dear friends, Andrea DiOrio and Elizabeth Brausa Brathwaite, and I embarked on the endeavor to launch a professional chamber ensemble comprised of musicians who LOVED playing chamber music and were EXCITED about performing programs that crossed boundaries of style and time. I remember when explaining this to Picosa’s Advisory Board member Ryan Muncy, he reacted saying that searching for musicians like this was like searching for unicorns — which was probably the truth! Over the years, we’ve performed with many cherished friends and colleagues, and each one has contributed to the growth of the ensemble.
Chamber Music at Its Finest
L – R: Jonathon, Kuang-Hao, Paula, Andrea, myself, Elizabeth in our favorite city.

Picosa’s artists include myself, flute and Executive and Artistic Director, Andrea DiOrio, clarinet and Director of Operations, Elizabeth Brausa Brathwaite, violin and Treasurer, Paula Kosower, cello, Kuang-Hao Huang, piano, and Jonathon Kirk, Composer-in-Residence and electronics. These artists are truly a dream team of friends and (I don’t say this lightly) world-class musicians. I consider it a privilege whenever we spend any time together, whether we’re onstage or off. Shulamit Ran’s Mirage has become a signature piece for the ensemble, and can be heard here from a recent live performance.


Picosa’s core identity from its inception has always revolved around virtuosic performances of eclectic and intriguing repertoire. With a commitment to diversity and inclusion, we engage and inspire audiences with music that is both familiar and unfamiliar that embraces the beauty of a multitude of aesthetics.

Composer-in-Residence Jonathon Kirk writes and transcribes numerous works for us each season. Of particular note are his Mechanical Birds, incorporating extinct bird songs in a contemporary context, and his exquisite transcription of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, adapted to Picosa’s instrumentation of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano.


Chamber Music at Its Finest
Chinary and Susan Ung attend a Picosa concert with Chicago-based composer Xavier Beteta.
Picosa is constantly in communication and collaboration with composers. In a recent performance of Chinary Ung’s Childsong, I was especially thrilled to discover that Chinary Ung would be flying from California and attending our performance! I cannot overstate the influence of Ung’s beautiful trio Spiral for cello, percussion, piano on my life when I first heard it as a student. It was quite literally the very moment when I discovered my love for contemporary music. I was especially blown away by the deft incorporation of Cambodian influences into Ung’s writing — so incredibly beautiful. I had the pleasure of chatting with Chinary for our recent Composer Conversations. It was a fascinating discussion of Childsong and the incredible impact it had on his career.

Picosa has also enjoyed long standing friendships with Chicago composers, and among the first to have partnered with Picosa is visionary Augusta Read Thomas. Enjoy this Composer Conversation with Thomas to hear about her incredible work and commitment to citizenship in her career. She is not only a friend of the ensemble, but among the most inspiring artists we know.