The inaugural Ear Taxi Festival, an upcoming celebration of contemporary classical music in Chicago, will include two Bienen School new music ensembles among its diverse lineup of performers. Several alumni, students and faculty members are also involved in the festival, which will take place October 5-10, 2016 in various Chicago locations.

The Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and Contemporary Music Ensemble will appear in a concert Thursday, October 6, at 7:30 p.m. at Harris Theater, 205 East Randolph Street, Chicago. Individual tickets or festival passes are available online.

Professor Donald Nally will conduct the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble’s Midwest premiere of Consentby Ted Hearne. Bienen School faculty member Ben Bolter will lead the Contemporary Music Ensemble in the Midwest premiere of Hans Thomalla’s Wonderblock for trumpet, trombone, cello, guitar, percussion, and piano. Thomalla is associate professor of composition at the Bienen School. The Oct. 6 program will also feature the International Contemporary Ensemble and students from the People’s Music School performing music of Anthony Cheung and Marcos Balter.

Grammy-winning composer Augusta Read Thomas (87), an alumna of the Bienen School and former faculty member who held the Harry and Ruth Wyatt Chair of Music Theory and Composition, spearheaded and co-curated the Ear Taxi Festival to celebrate the vibrant and booming contemporary classical music scene in Chicago. The six-day event’s expansive lineup includes more than 50 world premieres, 350 musicians, and 88 Chicago-area composers.

Other Bienen School faculty members appearing at the festival include assistant professor of composition Alex Mincek, whose work Pendulum II: Yap, Yaw, Yawp will be performed by Fulcrum Point New Music Project (Midwest premiere) on October 5; associate professor of composition Jay Alan Yim, who will participate in a Meet the Artists event October 7; and associate professor of saxophone Taimur Sullivan, who will join Amos Gillespie October 9 for a performance of Gillespie’s Lacework (Chicago Premiere).

Composition doctoral candidates LJ White and Katherine Young will also have works performed in the Ear Taxi Festival. White’s Zin zin zin zin is included in an October 9 program and Young’s the moss glows and the water is black, a MusicNOW commission, will premiere October 10 during the festival’s final concert.

Bienen School alumni whose compositions will be featured throughout the festival include Lawrence Axelrod(G82), Patricia Barber (G96), Drew Baker (G07), Marcos  Balter (G08), Eliza Brown (G15), Aaron Cassidy (98), Pablo Chin (G13), Nomi Epstein (G08), Chris Fisher-Lochhead (G16), Fredrick Gifford (G95, G00), Kathleen Ginther (G96), Jonathon Kirk (G08), Julia A. Miller (G93, G05), Janice Misurell-Mitchell (G87), Carolyn O'Brien(G16), Joan Arnau Pàmies (G16), Michael Pisaro (G85, G88), David Reminick (G16), Mischa Zupko (94), and Third Coast Percussion’s Sean Connors (G06), Robert Dillon (02), Peter Martin (G04, G11) and David Skidmore(05). Learn more about these composers.

For more information and a full list of events, visit www.eartaxifestival.com.

See a related Chicago Tribune story: Augusta Read Thomas, contemporary classical catalyst 


  • Donald Nally
  • Ben Bolter
  • Hans Thomalla
  • Alex Mincek
  • Jay Alan Yim
  • Taimur Sullivan