Third Coast Mixtape No. 8: Contemporary Classical Music from the Ear Taxi Festival


This mix tape was inspired by the Ear Taxi Festival (ETF), an extraordinary event that, over six days, shined a bright light on Chicago’s contemporary classical art music scene. From October 5 through October 10, the ETF presented the works by 88 local composers performed by over 350 local musicians and ensembles in dozens of concerts that included 55 world premieres. It displayed an astonishing depth, breadth, quality, and vision of local composers and musicians who perform contemporary classical music in Chicago.

Several pieces on this mixtape were performed at the ETF. As of yet, few of the world premieres are available; other works by those composers are included here. Here is the link:

  1. Selene (Moon Chariot Rituals), by Augusta Read Thomas, Third Coast Percussion and the Spektral Quartet

Thomas was the main organizer of the ETF. Her Selene (Moon Chariot Rituals) is the only octet ever written for string quartet and percussion. It is one of several compositions on Thomas’ recent release, Of Being a Bird. Third Coast Percussion and the Spektral Quartet also performed it at the ETF on Saturday night.

  1. Una Voz, un Grito, un Lamento, by Gustavo Leone, Cuarteto Q-Arte

At the ETF, the Avalon String Quartet (ASQ) gave the US premier of Leone’s 4th String Quartet in a concert that was also part of the 11th Chicago Latino Music Festival. The ASQ will be joined by Cuarteto Q-Arte from Bogotá, Colombia, for another Latino Music Festival concert that also includes a performance of Leone’s 4th String Quartet, on Sunday, November 13, at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Fullerton Hall, 2:00 pm, free with museum admission.

  1. Musings, by Marguerite Williams, the Chicago Harp Quartet

The Chicago Harp Quartet gave a wonderful performance on Saturday night at the ETF. Their Soirees D’ete release includes a performance of Musings, a work by quartet member Marguerite Williams. This piece is in three movements.

  1. Perfect Storm, by Shulamit Ran, peformed, Melia Watras, viola

Israeli-American composer Shulamit Ran, based in Chicago, was featured in a NewMusicBox Live event at the ETF. In addition to telling several wonderful stories from her long career, Ran featured snippets of Perfect Storm, a piece for solo viola. Here Melia Watras performs it from her Inspirare release.

  1. Berimbau Sextet No. 1, Kora, Gregory Beyer, Arcomusical

A Berimbau is an Afro-Brazilian instrument comprising a single string on a long slivered bow with a hollowed gourd providing resonance. Arcomusical performed this Sextet at the ETF Saturday evening concert.

  1. Stress Position, by Drew Baker, Marylin Nonkin, piano

Chicago composer Drew Baker ended an amazing Saturday evening concert with the world premiere of NOX, a piece for large orchestra. It can be heard at This mix tape includes the work Stress Position, from a release of the same name. Marylin Nonkin is on the piano.

  1. Oboe Concertino, by Bernard Rands; University of Iowa Center for New Music Ensemble, David Gompper conductor, Mark Weiger, Oboe

Bernard Rands’s Concertino was performed during the new music marathon on Sunday by the DePaul Ensemble 20+, Michael Lewanski, conductor, Andrew Nogal, oboe.


Louis Harris
Louis Harris

A lover of music his whole life, Louis Harris has written extensively from the early days of punk and alternative rock. More recently he has focused on classical music, especially chamber ensembles. He has reviewed concerts, festivals, and recordings and has interviewed composers and performers. He has paid special attention to Chicago’s rich and robust contemporary art music scene. He occasionally writes poetry and has a published novel to his credit, 32 Variations on a Theme by Basil II in the Key of Washington, DC. He now lives on the north side of Chicago, which he considers to be the greatest city in the country, if not the world. Member of the Music Critics Association of North America.

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