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'The University Of Chicago Presents' Announces Virtual Programming For Spring 2021

The series' classical, early music, and jazz offerings feature performances recorded in storied venues in Germany, the United Kingdom, and New York.

'The University Of Chicago Presents' Announces Virtual Programming For Spring 2021

This spring, the University of Chicago Presents shares eight new virtual programs featuring artists from around the world. The concert series on Chicago's South Side has long been a premiere venue for internationally touring musicians of classical, jazz, early, and world music. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the series has turned to digital presentations for all of its concerts. Now, to close the year, Executive Director Amy Iwano takes advantage of the virtual format not just to present artists from around the world, but to showcase unique places and venues that are significant to the musicians and their programs.

The series' classical, early music, and jazz offerings feature performances recorded in storied venues in Germany, the United Kingdom, and New York. Persian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, originally scheduled to make his Chicago recital debut with UChicago Presents in February, performs Bach's Goldberg Variations in Leipzig's historic Thomaskirche, where the work was composed 280 years ago. British tenor Ian Bostridge, who joins the University of Chicago in April to deliver the 2021 Berlin Family Lectures, offers a recital featuring the songs of Beethoven and Schumann from London's Wigmore Hall. From New York, New Orleans-born jazz pianist Sullivan Fortner revisits The Great American Songbook in a special set recorded in Steinway's New York showroom.

UChicago Presents also makes visits-virtually-to Japan, Honduras, and Iran, sharing musical traditions from around the globe as a part of its Music Without Borders series. Shomyo no Kai, a chorus of two dozen priests from the Shingon and Tendai sects of Japanese Buddhism, joins UChicago Presents from Tsuki no Kogo, one of the oldest standing temples in Tokyo's Itabashi Ward, to offer moments of reflection and repose through their ancient ritual chant. The ensemble also offers a free workshop for members of the public to learn the basics of shomyo. From Honduras, singer, songwriter, and guitarist Aurelio Martínez and the Garifuna Soul Band-all members of the last generation to be steeped in the Afro-Caribbean Garifuna culture-offer performances that fuse indigenous tradition and contemporary style. Finally, from their home in Iran, Persian kamancheh-player Kayhan Kalhor and traditional drummer Navid Afgah spin entrancing, meditative melodies, inviting audiences to lose themselves in their program, "Echoes of the East."

In addition to these concerts, UChicago Presents shares two performances in May in partnership with the University's Department of Music. Contemporary vocal ensemble Quince, who serves as a Don Michael Randel Resident Ensemble this spring, performs Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang's love fail, recorded at the Kaneko, a crucible for creative work in Omaha, Nebraska. Then, in the third installment of the Department's SOUND/SITES series and the last concert of the season, percussionist John Corkill showcases Chicago composers with performances recorded in the University's Mansueto Library, Saieh Hall, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House.

"While the last year has been challenging in many ways, we are pleased to have been able to serve our audiences through innovative means," says Executive Director Amy Iwano. "As the presenting arm of the University of Chicago's Department of Music, we have always striven to expand the ways audiences experience great music. Multi-media presentations have opened up new ways to do that, and we look forward to sharing these performances this spring."

Tickets to all winter events will be available at chicagopresents.uchicago.edu beginning Thursday, February 18. All events will be available for a 53-hour period beginning at 7:00 PM CT on the scheduled Friday and ending at 11:59 PM CT the following Sunday, with the exception of the March 30 performance by Shomyo no Kai, which will be available until Tuesday, April 30, and SOUND/SITES with John Corkill, which will be available for a period of 4 days from May 27 - 31. More information is available at chicagopresents.uchicago.edu.

SPRING 2021 PROGRAMS

SHOMYO NO KAI: VOICES OF A THOUSAND YEARS

March 30 - April 30 | $15 | ONLINE

Described as meditative and sublime, the Buddhist form of ritual chant known as shomyo is one of the oldest living forms of vocal music. Shomyo no Kai, a chorus of two dozen priests from the Shingon and Tendai sects of Japanese Buddhism, sets ancient shomyo against the backdrop of Tsuki no Kogo, one of the oldest standing temples in Tokyo's Itabashi Ward, offering moments of reflection and relaxation in a turbulent year. Before the concert, musicologist Steven G. Nelson, Professor at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, shares the history and practice of Shomyo, and after, the head monks of the Shingon and Tendai Buddhist sects host a live Q&A.

Presented in partnership with the Japan Society, and with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies, International House at the University of Chicago, and Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

WORKSHOP: SHOMYO FOR EVERYDAY WELLNESS

April 8 | Free | ONLINE

Enjoy a rare chance to practice shomyo alongside one of the monks from Shomyo no Kai in a workshop on how to use Buddhist ritual chanting as a form of meditation. The monk will share how his daily practice of this art form, which is believed to have originated in India before entering Japan in the 6th century, informs and enhances his sense of well-being.

Presented in partnership with the Japan Society, and with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies.

MAHAN ESFAHANI, HARPSICHORD: BACH'S GOLDBERG VARIATIONS

April 9 - 11 | $15 | ONLINE

Few pieces have received such varied and frequent interpretation as Bach's Goldberg Variations. Perhaps that is what makes this music so timeless. Glenn Gould's recordings on piano may be the most ubiquitous, but it is for the harpsichord that the work was originally written. Recorded in Leipzig's Thomaskirche-where Bach wrote this music 280 years ago-Persian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani applies his crisp articulation and a thrillingly dynamic style to Bach's virtuosic variations. "[He] feels like the harpsichord's answer to the young Gould-exuberant, antisentimental, bracing" (The New Yorker).

This concert is partially supported by James and Joan Shapiro.

IAN BOSTRIDGE, TENOR

April 16 - 18 | $15 | ONLINE

When people describe Beethoven the person, the composer's temper is often one of the first characteristics they point to. His anger and fiery personality are well documented, and it is easy to find those characteristics in his music as well. The composer's songs, however, reveal a different side. In a recital recorded in London's historic Wigmore Hall, fifteen-time GRAMMY-nominated tenor Ian Bostridge-who visits the University of Chicago (virtually) to deliver the 2021 Berlin Family Lectures-and poetic pianist Imogen Cooper reveal Beethoven the lover through some of the composer's most sentimental songs. The pair also share the concentrated surge of creativity unleashed by Robert Schumann when he was at last permitted to marry his love, Clara Wieck.

Presented in partnership with the Humanities Division.

LUNCH DISCUSSION: AURELIO MARTINEZ

April 21 | Free | ONLINE

Assistant Professor of Music Jessica Baker, an ethnomusicologist who specializes in contemporary popular music of and in the Circum-Caribbean, hosts a virtual "lunch" discussion with Aurelio Martínez. Martínez, a musician and political activist, is a member of the last generation to grow up steeped in the indigenous Garifuna tradition, and in his music, for which he has received international recognition, he combines contemporary style with indigenous influences to share Garifuna with a new generation.

Presented in partnership with the Center for Latin American Studies.

AURELIO MARTINEZ AND THE GARIFUNA SOUL BAND

April 23 - 25 | $15 | ONLINE

A member of one of the last generations to grow up steeped in the Afro-Caribbean Garifuna tradition, singer, songwriter, and guitarist Aurelio Martínez has proven that this indigenous style of music is still alive and kicking. With a richly resonant voice and soulful acoustic songs, Martínez has identified himself as a bard of the people, a vital bearer of tradition with a subtle innovative streak. From his home in Honduras, Aurelio shares his high-energy music suffused with indigenous style in a special streaming performance as part of UChicago Presents' Music Without Borders Series.

This concert is partially supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, the Center for Latin American Studies, and International House at the University of Chicago.

SULLIVAN FORTNER, PIANO: THE GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK

April 30 - May 2 | $15 | ONLINE

A longtime collaborator of the late Roy Hargrove, pianist and New Orleans native Sullivan Fortner is one of those rare musicians who simultaneously preserves tradition and evolves the sound. Whether a bandleader or sideman, in small combos or with a whole orchestra, Fortner engages harmony and rhythmic ideas through curiosity and clarity, bringing a freshness to standards and ingenuity to his original compositions. In a special streaming performance recorded at Steinway NYC during the 2020 COVID pandemic, Fortner matches nostalgia with a hunger for progress, pairing his own original works with classic selections from the Great American Songbook.

KAYHAN KALHOR, KAMANCHEH: ECHOES OF THE EAST

May 14 - 16 | $15 | ONLINE

With performance credits that include the Silk Road Ensemble and New York Philharmonic, Iranian maestro Kayhan Kalhor has championed the sounds of ancient Persian music for a modern, global audience. At the center of Kalhor's sound is his virtuosity on the kamancheh, or "spike fiddle," which, accompanied by Middle Eastern percussion, traces a silvered thread through music that unfolds like vivid tapestries, weaving together elements of East and West, old and new. In this streaming concert, recorded in Iran, Kalhor is joined by tombak player Navid Afghah for a meditative program of "Echoes of the East."

This concert is partially supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and International House at the University of Chicago.

QUINCE: LOVE FAIL

May 21 - 23 | $15, $20 with reception | ONLINE

It may seem strange that Quince, a vocal quartet specializing in contemporary music, would take up repertoire written for an ensemble whose focus was the medieval period. That is exactly the case with David Lang's love fail, however, after Anonymous 4, the group that commissioned the work, retired in 2016. If Lang's open vocal harmonies provide the connective tissue for early music lovers, it is the composer's treatment of text that makes this piece thoroughly contemporary. With words and poetry drawn both from centuries-old manuscripts and new miniature short stories by Lydia Davis, Quince shapes love fail into a stunning, contemporary reflection on modern love.

This concert is supported by the Don Michael Randel Ensemble-in-Residence endowment.

SOUND/SITES: John Corkill, PERCUSSION

May 27 - 31 | $15 | ONLINE

Percussionist John Corkill aims to orient himself at an intersection, between avant-garde new music and the general public. As a part of UChicago Presents' SOUND/SITES series in collaboration with the Department of Music, Corkill sculpts wonderful, curiosity-sparking performances that showcase the unique architecture at the University of Chicago. With drums, cymbals, chimes, bubble wrap, wood blocks, gongs, and more, Corkill takes advantage of the shapes, spaces, and surfaces of Mansueto library, Saieh Hall, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House to create one-of-a-kind musical experiences featuring the work of composers with deep ties to Chicago.

Presented in partnership with the Department of Music.

Tickets to all spring events will be available at chicagopresents.uchicago.edu beginning Thursday, February 18. All events will be available for a 53-hour period beginning at 7:00 PM CT on the scheduled Friday and ending at 11:59 PM CT the following Sunday, with the exception of the program featuring Shomyo no Kai, which premieres on March 30 and will be available for 30 days until April 30, and SOUND/SITES with John Corkill, which will be available for a period of 4 days from May 27 - 31.

UChicago Presents is supported in part by grants from the Illinois Arts Council and the REVADA Foundation. Promotional support is provided by DownBeat magazine, Chicago Jazz Magazine, and WDCB 90.9 fm.

IN-PERSON CONCERTS CANCELED THROUGH THE 2020/21 SEASON

In light of the continuing pandemic and in consideration of University, city, and state guidelines, all in-person performances in UChicago Presents' 2020/2021 season have been canceled. UChicago Presents will continue to offer performances and other programs digitally through the end of the season.

Subscribers who previously purchased tickets to the 2020/21 season have had the value of those tickets automatically applied as a credit on their account with the UChicago Arts Box Office. Account credit may be used to purchase admission to any virtual events in the 2020/21 season. Account credit may also be used to purchase subscriptions for the 2021/22 season, after they become available for sale. Subscribers may also contribute the value of their tickets to canceled concerts as a tax-deductible donation, or they may request a refund. To make a donation or request a refund, patrons should call 773.702.ARTS (2787) and leave their name, callback number, and a time when they can be reached.


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