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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.

Our Mission

These concepts define the essence of Fonema Consort as we commission, perform, and promote new music that explores the possibilities of the human voice. We are driven by a fascination with pieces that foster rich interplay of voices and instruments and attempt to close the gap between music-making and drama. The ensemble is highly committed to presenting works by Latin American composers to US audiences and encouraging the cultural exchange between these regions.

A Short History

Fonema Consort was founded in 2011 by singer Nina Dante and composers Pablo Santiago Chin and Edward Hamel. Since its founding, the ensemble has premiered over 50 works, and traveled widely across the US and increasingly in Latin America. 

Collaborations

Fonema Consort is dedicated to the commissioning of new works for voice(s) with instruments. We have collaborated closely with celebrated composers such as Julio Estrada, Mesias Maiguashca, James Dillon, Erin Gee, Juan Campoverde and Lewis Nielson; as well as with emerging luminaries such as Bethany Younge, Marisol Jimenez, Katherine Young, Fernanda Aoki Navarro, Pablo Chin and Clint McCallum.

Performances

National performance highlights include appearances with National Sawdust (NYC), the City of Chicago’s Pritzker Pavilion, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Latino Music Festival (Chicago), WFMT’s Thirsty Ear Festival (Chicago), the Frequency Festival (Chicago), Preston Bradley Hall (Chicago), the 113 Composer’s Collective (Minneapolis), the Instituto Cervantes (Chicago), and Bond Chapel (Chicago).

International performances include an Ecuadorian tour with the work of Mesias Maiguashca (Teatro Sucre, Quito; Centro Abraham Lincoln, Cuenca); appearances on Mexican festivals Visiones Sonoras, the Festival Internacional de Chihuahua, Festival Interfaz, and the Foro de Música Nueva as well as at the Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporaneous and the Claustro de Sor Juana; performances at the Universidad de Costa Rica and the Centro Cultural de España (San José); and a FACE grant-funded performance with chamber choir Voix de Stras’ at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg.

Residencies

Fonema Consort has held residencies and given performances at Oberlin Conservatory, Harvard University, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the UC Berkeley, UNAM (Mexico City), New England Conservatory, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Florida International University, Drew University, the Univesity of Minnesota, North Central College, and Saint Xavier Univerity.

Albums

Described by Chicago Reader’s Peter Margasak as “dazzling“, Fonema Consort’s debut CD Pasos en otra calle (New Focus Recordings, 2014) features the music of Costa Rican composers Pablo Chin and Mauricio Pauly. Our 2017 album FIFTH TABLEAU (Parlour Tapes+) was supported by an Aaron Copland Fund for Music grant and featured new works by five rising American composers. We have been broadcasted by WFMT and CAN-TV.

Support

Fonema Consort is a recipient of a FACE grant (2013), an Aaron Copland Fund for Music grant (2016), and two Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation grants (2016 and 2017).

Believing that new music offers a journey of discovery for the performer and listener alike, Fonema Consort hopes that our audience will join us as we explore the edge of musical aesthetics.

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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