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George Lewis Portrait Album

Dal Niente collaborates with innovative composer George Lewis on the first full-length portrait album of his notated music

The Latest Update

Assemblage to be released September 8

Posted on September 6, 2017 by Ensemble Dal Niente

Our album will be officially released September 8!

Check out amazon or iTunes.

More Updates ▼

Recording with George!

Posted on September 12, 2016 by Ensemble Dal Niente

Pictures from our August 27-28 sessions.



Rush Hour Concert and Blog Post

Posted on September 12, 2016 by Ensemble Dal Niente

Check out Mabel Kwan’s (Dal Niente pianist) blog post about recording with George Lewis and performing his work Hexis on Chicago’s Rush Hour Concert Series.

Like a Marching Band on Acid


American composer George Lewis is one of the most influential figures currently working in the arts. He is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music and Vice-Chair of the Department of Music at Columbia University (New York, NY), appointed in recognition of his significant contributions to “electronic and computer music, computer-based multimedia installations, text-sound works, and notated and improvisative forms.” Few musicians embody his unique combination of abilities and experiences as a performer, composer, academic, art critic, teacher, and collaborator. Born in Chicago, Mr. Lewis has been involved for over four decades with the Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, where he studied trombone and music composition beginning in the early 1970’s. The AACM, of which Mr. Lewis is a member, is dedicated to “nurturing, performing, and recording serious, original music” by African Americans.

In recent years, Dal Niente has enjoyed a growing relationship with Lewis, resulting in the composition of two bold new works written for the ensemble. Assemblage for nine instruments was composed for Ensemble Dal Niente in 2013 and premiered at the Bowling Green New Music Festival. The piece invites listeners to “catch the bus and go along for the ride,” constantly shifting timbres, tempos, and textures throughout its action-packed 16 minutes. In the words of the composer, “Both the title and the content of Assemblage refer to a type of visual artmaking that recombines and recontextualizes collections of natural and human-made objects. Artists such as Noah Purifoy, Betye Saar, John Outterbridge, and David Hammons, adopted and extended the assemblage process, recycling and reframing both the quotidian urban detritus of modern civilization.”  In 2014, Lewis wrote The Mangle of Practice, a duo for violin and piano, which received its premiere at the Library of Congress by Dal Niente musicians MingHuan Xu and Winston Choi. The work explores a “push-pull” dynamic between the instruments that reflect the constant friction between humanity and materialism. Upon collaborating on these two new works, both Lewis and Dal Niente felt that a professional studio recording should be made. Together, the artists identified two complementary works to appear as part of a portrait recording: Hexis and Mnemosis. The septet Mnemosis was composed for New York’s Talea Ensemble in 2012 and draws inspiration from “conceptions of time, history and memory in Western philosophy.” Hexis is a colorful and intensely rhythmic sextet commissioned by the San Francisco Contemporary Chamber Players in 2013.

The proposed portrait album with Dal Niente bears special significance in that it will be the first album devoted to George Lewis’ music that exclusively features fully-notated music performed on acoustic instruments, and will be the first published recordings of all four works. George Lewis’ music demands frequent recorded documentation because it is exceptionally varied and continues to navigate the “bleeding edge” of what music can be. Through this recording project, Dal Niente will make a major contribution to American musical culture by providing a medium through which Lewis’ recently composed work will reach a wider audience in the United States and beyond.

Project Media

George Lewis: Assemblage
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Video artist Alejandro Acierto created a video to accompany George Lewis’ “Assemblage” for an Ensemble Dal Niente concert on September 4, 2014. The audio track was recorded on October 30, 2014 at a live performance at the Library of Congress by Ensemble Dal Niente. With the availability of the Library’s content in mind, Alejandro used public domain video footage recorded by NASA as his material for the video. “Assemblage”, written by George Lewis for Dal Niente, will appear on the proposed recording project.

George Lewis: The Mangle of Practice
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This recording is a live performance by Ensemble Dal Niente artists MingHuan Xu, violin and Winston Choi, piano on October 30, 2014 at the Library of Congress. “The Mangle of Practice” is a Library of Congress commission, and this recording is of the work’s World Premiere. The piece is inspired by an essay of the same name by sociologist Andrew Pickering, and explores the “push-pull” dynamic between humanity and materialism. This work will receive its first commercial recording as part of the proposed recording project.

George Lewis: Mnemosis
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This is a live recording of Ensemble Dal Niente performing “Mnemosis” by George Lewis on February 28, 2016 at Constellation in Chicago. Written for New York’s Talea Ensemble in 2012, this intensely colorful sextet “draws inspiration from two conceptions of time, history and memory in Western philosophy: Nietzsche’s notion of the eternal recurrence, and Wittgenstein’s conception of Unzeitlichkeit.” “Mnemosis” will be one of the four pieces by George Lewis on the proposed recording project.

Start and End Dates



Chicago, Illinois

3 updates
Last update on September 6, 2017

Associated Event

September 24, 2017 | Chicago, IL
Archived Events

Project Created By

Chicago, Illinois
Ensemble Dal Niente is a 22-member Chicago-based contemporary music collective that presents and performs new music in ways that redefine the listening experience and advance the art form. The programming, brought to life by a flexible repertoire-based instrumentation, seeks to challenge convention and create engaging, inspiring, and immersive experiences which connect audiences with the music…


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