Preview: Impromptu Fest Returns with an Expanded Format

After a one-year hiatus, Chicago’s Impromptu Fest returns in an expanded format spread over five days, beginning this Tuesday, September 12. Hosted by New Music Chicago, Impromptu Fest 2023 provides a great opportunity to explore new, classical music being made in Chicago in venues on the near west side and Pilsen. This is the fourth installment of the festival, with the first two taking place in 2018 and 2019. Following a COVID-19 hiatus, the festival returned in 2021, but took another break in 2022.

Over the five days, there will be 15 concerts, all free. With the focus on chamber music, a large panoply of musical ensembles and arrangements, from solo piano to larger ensembles, will be on view. This year's festival features many performers who have not previously performed at Impromptu Fest.

Tuesday's opening day at the Epiphany Center for the Arts is typical. The three concerts feature women performers with Holly Roadfeldt opening on solo piano, the Codex Piano Trio playing next, and the Sapphire Winds concluding the evening. Epiphany Center is also the host of the festival on Thursday, September 14. 201 S. Ashland Ave. Programs on both days are 5-8pm, and they're free.

Wednesday’s concerts move to Elastic Arts. The Juliann Wang Collaborative explores musical styles in ancient and modern China. The ____ (Blank) Expression is an ensemble of winds, saxophone, and harp playing music by local composers. Mark Nagy’s “Station Four” combines new music with modern dance. Elastic Arts, 3429 W. Diversey Ave, 7-10pm, free.

Friday evening and late Saturday afternoon the festival moves to High Concept Labs in Pilsen. Five of the events are concerts featuring a diversity of ensemble arrangements. The first event on Saturday is a panel discussion with various artists tied to High Concept Labs. 2233 S. Throop, free. Click here for more information and concert times.

Picture of the author
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.