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Fonema Consort

Chicago, IL         

consort : a group of instrumentalists and singers performing together

fonema : (Spanish, phoneme) the smallest unit of speech, which distinguishes words according to their sonic quality.

These concepts define the essence of Fonema Consort, as we endeavor to strengthen and expand the repertoire of 20th and 21st century repertoire for voice(s) and instruments, and live out our fascination with the exploration of vocal possibilities in music,  including the traditional presentation of a text, the breaking down of words into phonemes, or the total absence of words, and the ramifications thereof. The complex nature of this repertoire, which encompasses a vast intersection of disciplines (music, drama, literature, for example), requires the ensemble to explore a wide range of performance practices, broad knowledge of 20th and 21st century music theory and history, familiarity with recent philosophical trends, and extensive technical skill in relation to interpretive means, be it instrument or voice.

Fonema Consort was founded in October 2011 by singer Nina Dante and composers Pablo Chin and Edward Hamel. Since its founding, the ensemble has quickly earned a place in Chicago’s new music community, as well as beginning to build a national and international audience. A collaboration between a diverse group of young singers, instrumentalists, and composers from around the Chicago area, where Fonema Consort regularly performs.

Named “Best New Vocal-Oriented Contemporary Classical Ensemble of 2014″ by The Chicago Reader, Fonema Consort has performed at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall and at the Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park, as well as at college and university campuses throughout the Chicago area. The ensemble is building a national audience, with performances in New York, Costa Rica, and Mexico City. The upcoming season will include performances in Miami, Strasbourg, France, Chihuahua, Mexico, and Morelia, Mexico.

Fonema Consort is dedicated to the commissioning of new works for voice(s) with instruments, and collaborating closely with composers on the realization of these scores. Since its debut concert in February 2012, Fonema Consort has premiered more than 20 works by national and international, emerging and established composers, including Julio Estrada, Hans Thomalla, Mauricio Pauly, Juan Campoverde, Alexander Sigman, and Christopher Jones. The ensemble’s advocacy for young composers has also led to commissions of new works by Edward Hamel, Joan Arnau Pàmies, Daniel Dehaan, Katherine Young, Shawn Lucas, Morgan Krauss, Pablo Chin, and others. Described by Chicago Reader’s Peter Margasak as “dazzling“, Fonema Consort’s debut CD, Pasos en Otra Calle, was released this Spring on New Focus Recordings.

The ensemble, is also committed to outreach and education, and has given residencies at Chicago’s Saint Xavier University and North Central College, as well as a lecture-performances at Boston’s New England Conservatory, Collumbia College of Chicago, and UNAM’s Cátedra Conlon Nancarrow in Mexico City. Believing that new music offers a journey of discovery for the performer and listener alike, Fonema Consort hopes that our audience will join us on this journey at the edge of musical and linguistic discovery.

Master of Disguises by Katherine Young

Katherine Young’s Master of Disguises is concerned with obscurity and loss. Young works with largely static textures, using extended vocal techniques, bass clarinet, and tenor saxophone to construct a soundworld that softly throbs and whirs. An unusual percussion instrument adds to the effect: hand-held cassette tape recorders, played by fast-forwarding, rewinding, stopping, and ejecting. Master of Disguises concludes with a searching melody that sets a fragment from Kelly Link’s “The Girl Detective.”

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8 ejercicios para oír lo inaudible by Mesias Maiguashca

Inspired by musical practices of indigenous groups from the South American lowlands, in this case of the Shipibos, who populate regions of the lower Ucayali River of eastern Peru, Maiguashca departs in this piece from a paper by Bern Brabec titled The songs of the spirits: an anthropology of the inaudible.
According to Brabec these songs have an origin and a precise recipient:
.the song of a human being destined to a human being;
.the song of a human being destined to the spirits;
.the song of a spirit destined for another spirit;
.etc.

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