April 19, 2016
By Howard Reich
The Frederic Chopin bicentennial inspired major concerts around the world in 2010, but none like the one Chicago jazz singer Grazyna Auguscik offered that July at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.
Performing before an enthusiastic audience of 8,500 and sharing the stage with world-class Polish and Chicago musicians, Auguscik applied her distinctly fluid vocal style to some of the most sublimely expressive music ever penned. Yes, everyone knows that Chopin stands as one of the greatest composers to have written for the piano, but Auguscik and friends proved that Chopin’s miniatures can flourish in a jazz environment, as well.
And though Auguscik hardly was the first jazz musician to make that point, she did so with such elegance and authenticity that one hoped she would return to this repertoire.
She will do precisely that Saturday evening, when she appears on the Contempo-Jazz Double Bill, an annual concert that pairs contemporary classical music with jazz performance of comparable stature, at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts. Considering how effective Auguscik sounded in 2010, one can only imagine where she has taken this concept.
March 7, 2016
By John Von Rhein
It’s been a rewarding couple of days for local followers of new and relatively new Polish music.
At Chicago Symphony Orchestra subscription concerts this week and last, audiences were reminded of Witold Lutoslawski’s CSO-commissioned Third Symphony ranking as one of the landmark orchestral scores of the late 20th century.
Monday night in the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts’ Performance Hall at the University of Chicago, two of Poland’s most prominent composer-performers, vocalist Agata Zubel and double bassist Tadeusz Wielecki, were the focus of a Contempo series exploration of their music and that of other European composers.
Polish-born composer and U. of C. music professor Marta Ptaszynska, the series’ new artistic director and curator of Monday’s program, included a piece of her own in the mix, which leapt across European borders to present scores by the late Russian avant-gardist Alfred Schnittke and the late French composer Christophe Bertrand. Members of the university-resident ensemble eighth blackbird did most of the heavy lifting, performance-wise, with the Pacifica Quartet anchoring the opening and closing portions of the concert.
Chicago Classical Review
March 2, 2015
By Tim Sawyier
On Sunday afternoon the new-music collective Contempo performed the second installment of its 50th anniversary season at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. Two Contempo-commissioned world premieres by Sofia Gubaidulina and Gunther Schuller were the main events on the program. Yet the musicians—drawn from ensembles-in-residence eighth blackbird and the Pacifica Quartet (and filled out with guest artists)—offered thoughtful, incisive readings of several works from a wide stylistic spectrum. More »
Chicago Classical Review
January 26, 2015
By Gerald Fisher, critic
Through fifty years of good times and lean the University of Chicago’s new music collective Contempo has faithfully presented challenging programs and fostered the careers of impressive composers and performers. Saturday night at the Logan Center for the Arts the ensemble celebrated their achievements in the first of two programs, “Contempo at 50: Now and Then,” which included three world premieres.
January 25, 2015
By Alan G. Artner
Contempo, the University of Chicago’s new music collective, began its 50th anniversary season Saturday night at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, with a characteristically prickly program superlatively played.
As in time past, when the organization was called the Contemporary Chamber Players (CCP), premieres sat alongside recent and older pieces that continue to sound questing, challenging and uncompromisingly “modern.”
January 23, 2015
Award-winning composer Marta Ptaszynska will succeed Shulamit Ran as the artistic director of Contempo, the University of Chicago’s renowned contemporary music collective.
Ran, the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor of Composition and a Pulitzer Prize winning composer, will retire in June after more than 40 years of service to the University and 12 years as artistic director of Contempo.
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