A Welcome from the Artistic Director

Welcome to the inaugural season of Picosa, a chamber music ensemble for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. After years of friendship and collaborations in a variety of contexts from solo recitals, to chamber ensembles, and orchestras, it is a thrill to come together as a new professional ensemble with the shared purpose of creating great music and lifting the human spirit. We are truly privileged to have you join us!

We have many partners this season who have helped to make this season come alive. Our concert venue partners are PianoForte Chicago, with many thanks to Thomas Zoells, and Mayslake Peabody Estate, with many thanks to Janneke Fowers and Kendra Strubhart. All of our programs will be presented jointly at these two distinctive and beautiful spaces. PianoForte Chicago boasts a new concert hall in a modern yet intimate setting in the center of Chicago’s south loop. Mayslake Peabody is an historic estate in the western suburbs on lush grounds befitting a scene from Downton Abbey in beautifully maintained period style, with vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows. Both are the perfect escape from the busyness of life and an opportunity to lose yourself in a spectrum of music.

In addition to great performances, our identity as an ensemble has been formed by three commitments: a commitment to present the works of Chicago composers on every program, a commitment to serve others, and finally a commitment to bring music to the next generation.

For the 2014-15 season, we present the music of four composers who are dear friends and among the most celebrated composers of our time. We begin our season with our concerts on October 27th (PF) and November 5th (MP) with a signature piece for Picosa, Mirage by Shulamit Ran. Shulamit Ran is an Israeli-American composer who won the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 1991 for her work entitled Symphony, dedicated to her teacher Ralph Shapey. Shulamit Ran is the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Music of the University of Chicago and has served as composer-in-residence with both the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Professor Ran is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Our winter concerts on January 3rd (MP) and January 26th (PF) feature a premiere by our composer-in-residence Jonathon Kirk, assistant professor of music at North Central College in Naperville. We were drawn to Jonathon’s compositional work with its organic soundscapes that acknowledge the beauty and complexity of the natural world. In our premiere, Kirk incorporates his own transcriptions of extinct bird song recordings with J. S. Bach’s canons as source code material.

Our Spring concerts on April 20th (PF) and April 29th (MP) are thrilling for us as we present the music of Augusta Read Thomas in celebration of her April birthday. As the centerpiece of the concert, we will present a resetting of Scat for our ensemble. Additional works featured include Traces, Capricci, Circles Around the Sun, and Euterpe’s Caprice. Augusta Read Thomas is a University Professor in the Department of Music of the University of Chicago (one of only six faculty members to hold this distinction) and has also served as the Mead Composer in Residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Professor Read Thomas is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Finally, our summer concerts on June 1st (PF) and June 10th (MP) feature the newly composed work CryptOlogiE by Associate Professor of Music at Wheaton College’s Conservatory of Music, Shawn Okpebholo. The musical material of CryptOlogiE is composed with secret references to Okpebholo’s own family, including numerical references to birthdays, pitch references to initials, and even Morse Code versions of the family name, Okpebholo. Come see if you can decipher the code of this fascinating new work.

A life in music can be described as a gift, and it is with gratitude that we then serve and give to others. Picosa is committed to working together with one organization each year to further their cause. This year, our partner is Hesed House — www.hesedhouse.org — whose simple motto inspires us deeply: Because Everyone Deserves Dignity. Hesed House is a national model for ending homelessness – one person, one family at a time. For more information on our work with Hesed House, and how you can donate please see our Community Partnership page.

Our final commitment is to the rising generation of young musicians. Picosa’s unique program Breaking Ground is an initiative to provide opportunities for aspiring young musicians to perform with us in a professional context. We intend to stay committed to these musicians as they grow through their careers. This exceptional initiative is not an ordinary educational outreach program. In addition to the opportunity this provides these young performers, it also gives our audiences the rare opportunity to hear the world’s truly elite young artists. These performances are simply not to be missed. This year’s Breaking Ground Artist is 12 year old violin virtuoso, Clarissa Bevilacqua. You can read about Clarissa on our Breaking Ground page. Clarissa will be featured in our summer concerts on June 1st and June 10th in a heart stopping performance of Beethoven’s Piano Trio in D Major, Op. 70, No. 1 “Ghost” with cellist Christopher Ferrer and pianist Jeffrey Panko.

Picosa was brought together by a shared love of chamber music and eclectic programming. Each program we present features works from a broad range of styles, genres, eras, and ensemble configurations from solo to quintet. Additionally, the works chosen embrace an expressive depth and power, in addition to their virtuosity and sublime artistry. It has been a joy to create these four programs for you, and we sincerely welcome a conversation with you at the receptions after each concert and beyond. Please join us!

~ Jennie

photo credit: Marc Perlish