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Ear Taxi Festival 2020

Celebrating Chicago's vibrant new music community with 5 days of performances across the city


Ear Taxi 2020, the second Chicago Festival of New Music, will fill five consecutive days (October 8-12, 2020) with the sounds of Chicago-based composers and performers.

Ear Taxi 2016 (October 5-10, 2016), Chicago’s first such event, included 33 world premieres, 60+ composers, and 19 Chicago-based ensembles comprised of 300+ musicians. It captured media attention locally (Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, WBEZ, WGN) and nationally (New Music USA).

Building on the success of the 2016 event, Ear Taxi 2020 will feature Chicago-based artists/composers who are selected through an open call for proposals, and serve as the vehicle for partnerships with cultural institutions and social service agencies and other arts disciplines. Proposed projects and performances include those featuring composers Tonia Ko (new clarinet and bubble wrap commission for Zachary Good), Tomeka Reid (new string quartet commission for D-Composed), John Dorhauer, Marc Mellits, Shawn Okpebholo, Elbio Barilari, Ryan Ingebritsen, Janice Misurell-Mitchell, and Stacy Garrop (new commission for Chicago Opera Theater), and ensembles/artists including Quince, Spektral Quartet, Third Coast Percussion, Ensemble Dal Niente, sound artist Beth Bradfish, Fifth House Ensemble, George Berlin, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW, among many others.

Addressing New Music Chicago’s mission of supporting its members through resource sharing and professional development, the call for proposals also gathers information from Chicago-based artists on their capacity-building needs and expertise. This informs a workshop series on the first day of the festival, and opportunities for exchange between member artist and groups.

Anchor venues and development partners include the University of Chicago (Hyde Park), the Chicago Cultural Center (Loop), the Harris Theater (Loop), and DePaul University’s newly opened Holtschneider Performance Center (Lincoln Park), with smaller venues surrounding each neighborhood hub to be selected in 2019 by the curatorial team.

Recording and documentation will be an important part of the project. New Music Chicago is currently in conversation with Cedille Records, who have expressed interest in creating a commercial release featuring works from the festival. The 2016 festival’s archives (recordings, scores, documents) were sold to Northwestern University for public access.

Led by Jennie Oh Brown (Creative Director) and Michael Lewanski (Lead Curator), the Ear Taxi 2020 curatorial team includes New Music Chicago members, Chicago-based national arts leaders (presenters, composers, ensembles, improvisers, press/media), and advisors from other disciplines (arts education, theater, visual art).

Ear Taxi 2020’s goals are to:

  • Celebrate the breadth of Chicago’s new music scene by extending the festival’s reach to venues less typically frequented by the downtown audience, including spaces activated by music-makers on Chicago’s south side.
  • Provide resource sharing, career development, and audience development support to Chicago-based new music ensembles by connecting artists and audiences through conversation, showcasing ideas/works in progress, and offering curatorial roles for ensembles.
  • Demonstrate new music’s capacity for responsive thinking through partnerships within and outside of the arts, via performance and engagement experiences aligned and co-created with cultural institutions, artists of diverse disciplines, and social services.

Project Media

Ayanna Woods – Sub o Salcie Pletoasa
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Features: Ayanna Woods

This setting of a traditional Romanian Orthodox hymn was commissioned and recorded by The Nightingale Trio in 2016. This connects to Ayanna’s proposed work for the Chicago Children’s Choir, to be premiered during the festival. In the hymn, a woman weeps for a child taken by politics and greed. With branches in hand she rises to build the new day.

John Dorhauer – BLACK
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Features: John Dorhauer

BLACK is a collaboration between new music 17-piece big band Heisenberg Uncertainty Players and rapper K.I.D. Music by John Dorhauer, lyrics by FNC and K.I.D., recorded in 2016. John has two proposed projects in consideration for the festival: a collaboration with Chicago hip-hop collective Hitmakuzz Productions; and “My Son, the Corporation,” an absurdist spin on the Citizen’s United Supreme Court ruling for chamber ensemble and spoken word.

Daniel R. Dehaan – Speaker Symphony No. 1
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Features: ryan ingebritsen

This work was performed as part of Sound Room, a collaboration between Chicago based composers/ sound artists Kyle Vegter, Ryan Ingebritsen, and Daniel Dehaan in 2012. Ryan Ingebritsen has proposed re-mounting Sound Room at Ear Taxi, which uses custom built software and a complex, multi-channel speaker system to create unique and intuitive three dimensional sound spatialization systems, specifically tuned to the acoustic nuances of a room or space. Sound Room can host performances of electro-acoustic music, workshops, and improvisations.

Start and End Dates



Chicago, Illinois

Project Created By

Chicago, Illinois
New Music Chicago advocates for the importance of a vital, vibrant music scene in our city and its geographical region. We are a membership organization that connects creators and supporters of non-mainstream and experimental music, supporting our passionate community through a mix of online and in-person services, including a calendar, social media presence, networking opportunities,…

In Collaboration With

Chicago, Illinois
Composer, Sound Designer, Sound Artist
Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois


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