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Blue Streak Ensemble performs 12 concerts

Spreading the sound of new music to an art gallery, a jazz club, a barn, universities, a public school, retirement homes, and summer resorts

The Latest Update

Season Review

Posted on July 22, 2016 by Blue Streak Ensemble

As we are approaching our final concert of Blue Streak Ensemble’s 5th anniversary season, it is remarkable to look back on the 12 concerts we performed this year. It was a big feat for us, and we never could have accomplished it without the support of New Music USA.

 Throughout this season, we have had the honor of performing for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Our first concert was at Judson Manor, a Senior Living Community full of retired professional musicians who truly appreciated our new music. Befittingly, our final concert this season will be at the Hospice of the Western Reserve – David Simpson Hospice House. This free concert is our gift to the hospice residents to bring them joy and comfort through music.

Another very special concert this year was in April at Firelands Elementary School. This was Blue Streak’s first collaboration with The Center for Arts-Inspired Learning, and we hope there will be many more to come. We were energized by the 4th and 5th graders’ enthusiasm and curiosity, and I believe that we inspired them as well.

 Blue Streak was the ensemble-in-residence at three universities this season. We performed two concerts in March at Ohio University, one being a performance and recording of student composers’ works. Thanks to Mark Phillips who invited us to OU! Later in April, Blue Streak Ensemble took a road trip to Wisconsin where we were the ensemble-in-residence at both University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and Oshkosh. At each school, we performed 2 concerts; one was a regular program and the other, a performance and recording of student composers’ works. Thanks to Chiayu Hsu and John Mayrose for inviting us!

Three of our concerts this year took place in fun, non-traditional venues – a bakery, a barn, and a jazz club! It was refreshing to take the music outside of the concert hall, and the setting also captivated our audiences. We are exploring experimental venues for next season, and we already have a performance scheduled in the Heights Arts Gallery on October 13, 2016.

In addition to a variety of venues, we offered diverse repertoire including works by living composers Margaret Brouwer, Chiayu Hsu, John Mayrose, Mark Phillips, Marc Satterwhite, Rob Smith, and Yehudi Wyner, plus classics by Bach, Mendelssohn, Borodin, and Paul Desmond.

 Blue Streak Ensemble’s 2015-16 Season at a Glance:

 1. Judson Manor, Senior Living Community – November 3, 2015

2. “Down Home Classical” at Dunham Tavern Barn – February 25, 2016

3. Ohio University, Guest Artist Concert Series – March 9, 2016

4. Ohio University Student Composers’ Concert – March 10, 2016

5. “Classical Music is a Living Art” at Firelands Elementary School in collaboration with the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning – April 19, 2016

6. University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, Guest Recital – April 26, 2016

7. University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, Student Composers’ Concert – April 27, 2016

8. University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, Student Composers’ Concert – April 27, 2016

9. Gantner Concert Hall, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire – April 28, 2016

10. “Sweets and Serenades” at Lucy’s Sweet Surrender Bakery, a free Mother’s Day Concert – May 8, 2016

11. Nighttown Jazz Club – June 1, 2016

12. Hospice of the Western Reserve – August 8, 2016

Sneak peek to next season: Heights Arts Gallery Concert on October 13, 2016 and BOP STOP on February 19, 2017.

More Updates ▼

“Porch Music” III. Playing Outdoors

Posted on July 21, 2016 by Blue Streak Ensemble

One of our favorite pieces to play this season was Porch Music by Mark Phillips. Mark was one of our collaborators and invited us to be ensemble-in-residence at Ohio University where he is a professor. Here is a little taste from his wonderfully fun, Porch Music, from our performance at OU on March 9, 2016. 

Emma Shook – violin, Robert Nicholson – cello, Luke Rinderknecht – percussion

Program Notes from composer Mark Phillips:

The inspiration for Porch Music came to me during the summer of 2006 when storms damaged the electric line at our house and we endured weeks of nearly constant power outages. Unable to get much work done on my computer, I found myself daydreaming and time-traveling back to my childhood days, long before computers and air conditioning were ubiquitous. But then the brakes on my time machine failed and my daydreams careened even further back to a time I know only from reading and listening to the stories of folks much older then myself — a time when electricity and plumbing were scarce; when most Appalachian workers’ days were filled with strenuous physical labor in fields, forests, factories, and coal mines; when Saturday was just another day for hard work and weekends didn’t begin until Saturday night; when porches provided a necessary escape from the heat on a summer evening and a place for informal social gatherings; a time when almost everything was homemade, including music and other entertainments.

“Rhapsodic Sonata”

Posted on July 14, 2016 by Blue Streak Ensemble

We have a very special recording for you today! It was recorded during our performance at Ohio University on March 9, 2016. This is Margaret Brouwer’s “Rhapsodic Sonata,” which was written in 2011, however, it recently underwent major revisions, and this is the first time the new version was performed! Blue Streak was very lucky to have the wonderful Cleveland Orchestra violist, Eliesha Nelson, join us for this concert. As always, we are grateful to have Dr. Shuai Wang on piano, who has been playing with Blue Streak Ensemble since our very first concert.

Program notes:

I. Caritas
II.…fair as the moon, bright as the sun…
III. Blithesome Spirit

Rhapsodic Sonata portrays musically a person who is on an internal journey.   In the first movement the viola begins with a mood of questioning and anger, contrasted with the atmosphere of blurred color and more tranquil melodic fragments in the piano. Under the influence of the piano, the passionato mood of the soloist gradually dissolves, with only occasional references to the opening tensions. Near the end of the movement the chant, Ubi Caritas is quoted followed by a related melody, first in the piano, and then the viola.   The second movement, …fair as the moon, bright as the sun… is simply a love song.  Opening with soft, breathless, quick motion in the piano, “like a light breeze through white clouds”, it quickly goes to a melody in the viola that exudes warmth and pleasure.  The same chant, Ubi Caritas, is referred to near the end of the movement in the piano.  The last movement, Blithesome Spirit, in a light-hearted mood, becomes buoyantly playful, mischievous, and sometimes a bit jaunty.


Posted on July 12, 2016 by Blue Streak Ensemble

Here is a recording of “Monophony” by John Mayrose. This is from our live performance at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh on April 26, 2016. Composer John Mayrose is a Professor of Music Theory and Composition at UW Oshkosh, and we were honored that he invited us to perform and work with his students there.


Monophony (2016) is the anti-counterpoint. The piece consists of a single musical line, which could essentially be played by one hand on the piano, but is hocketted among the four players. The form, rhythm and pitch materials are derived from prime numbers and the Fibonacci sequence.

Madeline Lucas-Tolliver – flute, William Bender – viola, Robert Nicholson – cello, Shaui Wang – piano

“Sea-Blue Flowing Mountain Breakdown”

Posted on July 7, 2016 by Blue Streak Ensemble

We are excited to share with you our recording of Sea-Blue Flowing Mountain Breakdown by Chiayu Hsu. This is a live recording from our performance in Gantner Hall on April 28, 2016, at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire during our residency there. Composer Chiayu Hsu is a professor at UW and invited us to perform and work with her composition students.

Program Notes:

Sea-Blue Flowing Mountain Breakdown (2008) is inspired by the geographical features of North Carolina from the ocean along its eastern coast to its mountains in the west. The journey starts from the seashore. What Whitman imagined the sounds of the ocean as an “ebb and flow of endless motion; /The tones of unseen mystery—the vague and vast suggestions of the briny world—the liquid-flowing syllables, /…the melancholy rhythm, /…And this is Ocean’s poem.” This piece begins with long notes and minor movements of pitch and rhythm, which indicate the gentle waves and ripples of a “vague and vast” sea. Gradually, the gestures are expanded and the music becomes more active, simulating a stronger influence of wind and waves. In the transition section, the ocean sounds grow quieter as we journey to the mountains. The following section, with its flowing notes and merry mood, is inspired by the sounds of bluegrass. After reaching a climax, in which the instruments play in unison, the music “breaks down” and flows back to the coast. This final section begins with “singing” melodies and gradually calms down, reflecting the harmonic peacefulness of the sea.

Madeline Lucas-Tolliver – flute, William Bender – viola, Robert Nicholson – cello, Shaui Wang – piano


Posted on June 30, 2016 by Blue Streak Ensemble

Enjoy this video of “Romp” by Margaret Brouwer, from our March 9 performance at Ohio University during our residency there.

Program Notes:

Romp might be an evening on the town where all caution lets loose in this light-hearted, exuberant and quite raucous piece. Elements of jazz and the mood of a lively party combine with repetitive rhythmic patterns, changing meters, playful exchanges and comic sounds.”

Emma Shook – violin, Shuai Wang – piano, Luke Rinderknecht – percussion

Sweets & Serenades

Posted on June 14, 2016 by Blue Streak Ensemble

This spring, we continued our season goal of spreading new music to non-traditional venues. In May, we performed at Lucy’s Sweet Surrender, a bakery in Cleveland Heights, OH. The performance was on the afternoon of May 8th, Mother’s Day. This was a free concert that was offered as a token of our appreciation to all the motherly figures in our lives. It was a beautiful afternoon! Families showed up with their moms and grandmothers, and everyone enjoyed eating Lucy’s scrumptious pastries while listening to chamber music. The program featured string quartets by Margaret Brouwer, Borodin, Jacob Gade, Sebastian de Yradier, as well as “Porch Music” by Mark Phillips for violin, cello and percussion.

On June 1st, we decided to shake it up a bit and perform classical music in a jazz club! We were honored to be presented by Nighttown for the third time since 2013. I believe that Blue Streak is the only classical ensemble that has repeatedly been invited to perform at Nighttown, Cleveland’s hottest jazz club! It’s an intimate setting where the audience enjoys dinner while listening to the music. We always have a blast performing there and this year was no exception. We performed works by Margaret Brouwer and Mark Phillips, as well as an arrangement of Paul Desmond’s “Take Five.” Margaret Brouwer arranged this famous jazz tune specifically for our ensemble of violin, cello, piano and percussion. The big surprise of the night was a special sneak preview of Brouwer’s newest piece, “Voice of the Lake.” This will be a major premiere next season, but the audience at Nighttown was treated to a short excerpt sung by tenor Brian Skoog. We are so excited to share the whole work with a wider audience next season!

Education through Music

Posted on May 3, 2016 by Blue Streak Ensemble

April was “education month” for Blue Streak Ensemble. On April 19th we played our first concert in an elementary school in collaboration with The Center for Arts Inspired Learning. Our program, titled “Classical Music is a Living Art,” introduced 4th and 5th graders to classical music. The ensemble included violin, flute, cello and percussion, and each instrument gave a little demonstration so the children could become familiar with the different sounds. The music on the program included a Bach Two Part Invention that Margaret Brouwer arranged for Four Players and Mendelssohn’s “Scherzo” from “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” When introducing these pieces, Margaret Brouwer incorporated an interesting history lesson. Next, we played music by living composers Mark Phillips and Margaret Brouwer. The kids thought it was so cool that it was someone’s job to create music! It reminded us how truly lucky we are to make music everyday and to share it with new audiences.

One of the highlights of the program was when the students had the opportunity to participate in a song and make music alongside Blue Streak Ensemble. Margaret Brouwer composed a new piece, specifically for these elementary school concerts, where the kids were invited to clap in rhythm, make whooshing wind sounds, and tap their fingers to sound like rain. Once Margaret Brouwer taught them their parts, then Blue Streak played the music and Brouwer conducted the kids. They were very responsive and paid attention to when they were supposed to come in, and when they were supposed to be quiet. It was a lot of fun for us to perform with these energetic kids and they seemed to really enjoy it!

Later in April, we continued our educational theme and were the ensemble-in-residence at 2 universities in Wisconsin. We began on April 26th at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, where composition faculty John Mayrose was the inviting professor. We performed a concert in their big Music Hall. The program included works by John Mayrose, Margaret Brouwer, Marc Satterwhite and Chia Yu Hsu. On the morning of April 27th, we did student composer readings in Oshkosh. Then we hopped in our caravan and drove 3 hours to the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, where we read more student compositions! It was an exhilarating day bringing this music to life for the very first time. The students were grateful to have a professional ensemble play their music, and we were impressed by all the young composers. 

We have received glowing letters from the students at UW Oshkosh, and from the faculty.  John Mayrose had done an arrangement for Blue Streak of his Monophony, and says this is now his favorite instrumentation of the piece.

After a full day of student readings at two universities, the following day we gave another formal concert in Gantner Concert Hall at University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.  Along with works by Mayrose, Brouwer and Satterwhite, Blue Streak premiered a lovely work by Chia Yu Hsu called Sea-Blue Flowing Mountain Breakdown.  Chiayu was delighted with the performance and is happy to have a fine recording of her work.

We had a lot of fun at both schools swinging telephone bells in Margaret Brouwer’s Through the Haze, and also playing other unusual instruments instead of viola and cello.  Margaret Brouwer also performed with the group on the bells, wind chimes, and Dutch Lake Stones.

Thank you to all the faculty who helped to make this tour possible, let us borrow university percussion instruments, and to the young composers for sharing their talents with us.  

Barn to Stage

Posted on March 21, 2016 by Blue Streak Ensemble

We have a new favorite Cleveland concert venue…Dunham Tavern! Once a stagecoach stop, now the Dunham Tavern Museum is a historical landmark. We played a concert in the Barn on February 25th and loved the space! The wood hall creates warm, wonderful acoustics. It was the perfect setting for our program titled “Down Home Classical.” 

Here is a preview article published in ClevelandClassical featuring an interview with Director Margaret Brouwer talking about her inspiration for this concert:


The program included:

MARGARET BROUWER: Demeter Prelude for string quartet
ROB SMITH: Breaking Point for solo percussion 
YEHUDI WYNER: Brandeis Sunday for string quartet 
MARK PHILLIPS: Porch Music for violin, cello, percussion 
MARGARET BROUWER: Through the Haze for 3 musicians and percussion

The week leading up to the concert had been nice weather (for Cleveland). Then on the afternoon of the concert, it started snowing. Despite that, we still had a good turnout! The audience was so enthusiastic. For this particular performance, we had quite a lot of percussion instruments. Four of the audience members loved the concert so much, they stayed afterwards to talk to the performers and help load up all the percussion instruments! That was a first for us and certainly very much appreciated. We intend to play regularly at Dunham Tavern since we loved it so much!

A few days after our successful performance in a barn, we were back on a traditional stage, this time at Ohio University in Athens, OH. We are grateful to composer Mark Phillips for inviting Blue Streak to be the Ensemble-in-Residence at OU. We performed a composition by Mark Phillips, “Porch Music,” and it was such an honor to work with him and get his input during our rehearsal before the concert. 

The next day, we did Student Composer Readings. Ten student composers submitted their works to be included on the readings. They were all really interesting! We were impressed by the high quality of the works. It was a lot of fun for us to play their music, and best of all, we were able to make great recordings for the student composers! These recordings will be valuable as the young composers continue to further their careers and will need demos of their work.

Director Margaret Brouwer mentioned to us that she was blown away by how well Blue Streak Ensemble performed the pieces on the first read-through. She said we “sight read them flawlessly.” 

After working with the student composers at the university, it got us inspired for our upcoming concert at an elementary school. It will be our first time playing for such a young audience, but we feel it is very  important to introduce children to new music who might not otherwise be exposed to it.

Down Home Classical

Posted on February 11, 2016 by Blue Streak Ensemble

This is a very ambitious year for Blue Streak Ensemble as it is our 5th anniversary season! It’s off to a great start, thanks to the support from New Music USA. We had a very successful performance at Judson Manor, a senior living community in Cleveland, right next to Severance Hall. It was an honor to play for so many retired professional musicians who were truly appreciative of our music. One conductor in the audience wrote to us afterwards and said: “I am writing to once again tell you my words of gratitude for the concert! It is so wonderful these young people are excited about performing contemporary music and play it so well!” 

This is more rewarding than any review from a major publication!

Our next performance is coming up in 2 weeks and we are busy with rehearsals. On February 25th, we will be presenting “Down Home Classical,” an evening of American, Classical-Vernacular music performed in an historical barn.

Program Includes:

MARGARET BROUWER: Demeter Prelude for string quartet
ROB SMITH: Breaking Point for solo percussion
YEHUDI WYNER: Brandeis Sunday for string quartet
MARK PHILLIPS: Porch Music for violin, cello, percussion
MARGARET BROUWER: Through the Haze for 3 musicians and percussion

If you are in the Cleveland area, we hope you will join us at Dunham Tavern on February 25th for this concert!


There is something exciting happening in Cleveland! Always a city where classical music has been prized and held in high regard, the city seems to be on the cusp of developing an adventurous spirit and encouraging experimental performances. It is sparkling with new musical energy. Blue Streak Ensemble is eager to promote this awakening by expanding our season and venues in Cleveland in refreshing and captivating ways. The Blue Streak Ensemble was formed in 2011 to launch a summer concert series along the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio. We have since embarked on several out of state concert tours, but with Cleveland as our home base, we want to focus our musical energies in our town. BSE will bring an eclectic array of new music to a variety of Cleveland venues during the 2015/2016 season performing works by living composers Chen Yi, Mark Phillips, Mario Davidovsky, John Mayrose, Margaret Brouwer, Rob Smith and others. Finding slightly non-traditional spaces the most intriguing, venues this season will include Nighttown (a popular restaurant/jazz club), an art gallery, and Dunham Tavern, a historic 1824 stagecoach stop with a barn that is an extraordinary performance space. BSE will also bring the sparkle of new music to two retirement facilities, Gardens at Westlake and Judson Manor. As a non profit organization, BSE is committed to giving back to the community. Blue Streak is concerned about the extreme dearth of classical music learning opportunities for children in the public schools. We want to get kids jumpstarted on creativity and a love for art music. So this year, BSE is beginning a relationship with The Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (an organization that plans and schedules activities in the public schools) to give concerts for pre-K to 12th grade students. Concerts will include short pieces of varying styles performed with a little presentation beforehand. Also, we will give kids the opportunity to compose their own song by exploring sounds and rhythms they can make with their own bodies. When we perform their collaborative composition, they will learn about following a conductor, dynamics, and the valuable teamwork skills it takes to play as an ensemble. Lastly, we feel a strong responsibility to help out at the university level in two ways; building students’ awareness of the diversity and beauty of newly written music by giving stimulating concerts on the college campus. Secondly, we can contribute by giving composition students the opportunity to hear a work they have written played by outstanding musicians. Consequently, we have planned short residencies where BSE will give a concert one evening and the next day will rehearse and record student composers’ works. This season, BSE residencies are scheduled in March 2016 at Ohio University, and in April 2016 at both the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Finally, we will continue with our initial musical mission, to offer informal concerts at resorts along Lake Erie during the summer!

Project Media

“Shattered Glass” by Margaret Brouwer
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Performed by Blue Streak Ensemble at Washington and Lee University, 2012

“There are two contrasting yet related sound worlds in Shattered Glass. A soft but brittle atmosphere with sharp stabs of piercing sound that sometimes builds to wild cacophonous moments is contrasted with soft, blurred, mysterious sections that still have tiny intrusions of bright, pointed stabs of sound. The brittle and blurred timbres eventually mix and overlap becoming sometimes rhythmic, sometimes raucous, and sometimes mysterious and melodic.”

“Whom do you call angel now?” by Margaret Brouwer
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Live performance by Blue Streak Ensemble, 2015. Sarah Beaty – voice, Kimia Ghaderi – violin, Erika Dohi – piano.
“‘Whom do you call angel now?’ was taken from a set of poems by David Adams called “September Songs” which he wrote after September 11. I set this originally as a folk song. In the end, I decided to make it a part of my song cycle about war and violence called “Declaration.” I decided the strongest presentation would be to leave the accompaniment simple, even stark at times.”

“Porch Music 2. Morning in Appalachia” by Mark Phillips
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Features: Mark Phillips

Majorie Bagley -violin, Roger Braun -percussion, Michael Carrera -cello.
“The inspiration for ‘Porch Music’ came to me during the summer of 2006 when storms damaged the electric line at our house and we endured weeks of nearly constant power outages. Unable to get much work done on my computer, I found myself daydreaming and time-traveling back to my childhood days and careened even further back to a time I know only from reading and listening to stories; a time when almost everything was homemade, including music and other entertainments.”

Start and End Dates



Cleveland, Ohio

10 updates
Last update on July 22, 2016

Project Created By

Cleveland, Ohio
In 2011, Composer Margaret Brouwer brought together a group of vibrant, young musicians to form the Blue Streak Ensemble. Initially comprised of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion, it has since expanded to include voice and trombone.  Originally formed to launch a concert series along the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio, Brouwer named…

In Collaboration With

Cleveland, Ohio
Composer/Inviting Professor at UW-Eau Claire


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