Tonight, the International Contemporary Ensemble begins its annual weeklong concert series in Chicago at the Hot House. I could make some kind of lame joke about the initials of this well-known avant-garde chamber group and its relation to a "hot" house, but I feel that would undermine the seriousness of this article (it is classical music, after all). So instead, how about some background? ICE was founded in 2001 for the express purpose of promoting new music and young composers while bringing this music to audiences not necessarily associated with modern classical music. Since then, they've performed in Alice Tully Hall in New York and the Miller Theatre at Columbia University. Their debut there was hailed by the New York Times as a "Top Ten Musical Moment of the Year" for 2003. Now, I think a listing of some concerts is due:
09.12.06 – Chicago, IL – HotHouse
Tonight will feature "classic ICE repertoire," including work by John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, Louis Andriessen, "up and coming" Du Yun, and the night closes with Steve Reich's seminal piece "Different Trains."
09.13.06 – Chicago, IL – Elastic
Featuring the seldom-used duo of clarinet and percussion, this night will feature works by Donatoni, Stockhausen, Lobera, and Manoury, as well as new works by young composers.
09.14.06 – Chicago, IL – The Velvet Lounge
This night's performance centers around ICE and Chicago Symphony Orchestra member Katinka Kleijn and several of her musically inclined friends. There will be works by Alvin Lucier, Bruno Maderna, Dai Fujikura, Alexandra Hermentin, and Frederic Rzewski, and a world premiere by Greg Ward written specifically for this performance.
09.15.06 – Chicago, IL – Pressure Billiards and Café
ICE guitarist will be playing both nylon and steel strings tonight for pieces by Mario Davidovsky, Julia Wolfe, Elliot Carter, Toru Takemitsu, and Peter Gilbert. As an encore, he's preparing a new piece by Yngwie Malmsteen called "Dungeons of HELL!!!"
09.17.06 – Chicago, IL – Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
09.17.06 – Chicago, IL – The Hungry Brain
Thankfully enough, modern music fans will not have to make the tough choice of whether they want to see the balls-out craziness of eight piano hands performing pieces by Ligeti, Kurtag, Messiaen, Schoenberg, Brunswick, Bartok, Tsai-Yun Huang, and three (count 'em, three!) world premieres OR some of the more interesting improvised music in America. Your day's plan should look something along the lines of going to the Green Mill at two to see 40 fingers flying, then heading directly over to The Hungry Brain for the 10 P.M. improvised show (you'll need that much time to get there due to Cubs-related IQ-deprived activity... ugh).
09.18.06 – Chicago, IL – Katerina's
And for you classical lovers out there, the final night of the festival will feature works written before 1940 – outside ICE's usual scope. However, these pieces will be subjected to some interesting arrangements and will feature some very special guests from the Lyric Opera Company and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Among the advertised "four + hours of nonstop classical" will be Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto No. 5" as well as other popular favorites. Sorry, no karaoke.