The Renaissance Society to Present International New Music Series, Oct-Nov 2013

The Renaissance Society to Present International New Music Series, Oct-Nov 2013

The Renaissance Society presents an international new music concert series in conjunction with its group exhibition Suicide Narcissus, Sept. 15-Dec. 15, 2013, featuring a lineup of musicians who will expose Chicagoans to dynamic compositions, instruments and techniques at the leading edge of new music rarely showcased in the city.

Four concerts from October to November will showcase the work of artists hailing from the United States, Germany and Japan, including: improvisational German trumpeter Birgit Ulher with Eric Leonardson (Oct. 8 at 8 p.m.); electro-acoustic chamber music outfit Gene Coleman and Ensemble N_JP (Oct. 23 at 8 p.m.); Chicago-based flutist Lisa Goethe-McGinn (Nov. 10 at 2 p.m.); and Japenese shamisen performers Yoko Reikano Kimura and Yumiko Tanaka (Nov. 13 at 8 p.m.). The musicians' work oscillates between the traditional and the contemporary, probing noise and silence equally, shifting between reactive improvisation and studied composition.

All four concerts will be held in the University of Chicago's Bond Chapel, an icon of the American Gothic revival period with a vaulting space and distinctive acoustics. The Renaissance Society's musical performances, exhibitions, lectures and additional programs are free and open to the public. For more information please visit

BIRGIT ULHER, trumpet, with Eric LeonardSON, electronics and assorted devices

Tuesday, October 8 at 8 p.m.

Writing about her performances for trumpet, critic Johan Redin referred to Ulher's work as "extremely minimalistic and fragmented music [that is] as strange as it [is] fascinating and intellectually insisting." Manipulating the instrument through the use of splitting sounds, multiphonics, granular sounds, and silence, Ulher improvises pieces that test the limits of aural perception. Visual art, moreover, is a major interest of the musician; in 2007, Ulher partnered with the artists Allora & Calzadilla to record one of 9 versions of Reveille played as part of their sculptural installation Wake Up shown at The Renaissance Society. Leonardson is a Chicago-based performer and composer. The dynamic between Ulher and Leonardson will not revolve around push-pull call-response sequences as much as layers, textures and striations punctuated by abrupt bursts or nucleic moments like knots of wood set within a hypnotic grain.


Wednesday, October 23 at 8 p.m.

Coleman's sensibility is aleatoric in nature. The specific instrumentation is not important so long as there is a combination of electronic, acoustic, and non-western traditional elements. N_JP is an electro-acoustic chamber music outfit featuring musicians from Japan, wholly steeped in traditional instruments, such as the sho (mouth organ), koto, or shamisen, (banjo), set alongside electronics, and traditional western classical instruments (cello, bass clarinet). Coleman's compositions are Feldmanesque in their stasis, privileging duration over discrete note events so as to dissolve binaries such as East/West, tradition/avant-garde. Sendai Transmissions is a new composition by Coleman. It is performed with accompanying video featuring a strong architecture component.


Sunday, November 10 at 2 p.m.

Chicago-based Goethe-McGinn will perform selections from Salvatore Sciarrino's L'Opera per flauto I & II, a focused and refined work composed of micro-variations on sound structures and silence. Goethe-McGinn is one of the few musicians in Chicago with Sciarrino's challenging work in her repertoire, making this performance a rarity in the city in particular, and, in fact, the entire country.


Wednesday, November 13 at 8 p.m.

This duo seamlessly spans the depths of tradition and the heights of experimentation. In its 400 year history, the shamisen, a sister to the banjo, has been subject to degrees of refinement so that there should be no unturned stones within its repertoire. Paying full homage to those stones one moment, Tanaka and Kimura will kick them the next. Tanaka in particular has made a name for herself within new music circles having collaborated with the likes of Otomo Yoshihide, Uchihashi Kazuhisa, Elliott Sharp, Samm Bennett, David Moss, Carl Stone, Ned Rothenberg and John Zorn. No matter how harsh her attack, it is always precise and usually sustained to the point of becoming exquisite. The bill will feature a range of work. Of note will be Yuji Takahashi's Sugagaki Kuzushi, a haunting double shamisen and voice composition belonging to a genre of music to accompany Noh theater.

The Renaissance Society, located on the campus of the University of Chicago at 5811 S. Ellis Avenue, is an internationally renowned non-collecting museum of contemporary art. Through exhibitions, commissions, publications, and interdisciplinary education programming, The Renaissance Society advances the growth and understanding of the artistic ideas and expressions of our time. The museum is free and open to the public Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from Noon-5 p.m. Please check The Renaissance Society website for specific schedule; the museum is closed between exhibitions. For more information on The Renaissance Society, phone 773-702-8670 or visit

Pictured: Gene Coleman and Ensemble N_JP performing in conjunction with Danh Vo's solo exhibition at The Renaissance Society, Uterus (2012).