October 21, 2004
Vol. 24 No. 3

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    Contemporary Chamber Players begin next 40 years as Contempo

    By Jennifer Carnig
    News Office


    To mark their 40th anniversary as acclaimed performers of modern classical music, the members of the Contemporary Chamber Players have changed their group’s name to Contempo.

    To celebrate the name change and the milestone anniversary, Contempo is performing a special concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26, in the Chicago Historical Society’s Rubloff Auditorium. The performance marks another big moment for the ensemble, allowing Contempo to step off campus and show the rest of the city how it earned its reputation.

    “The move downtown will allow us to reach new audiences and have a broader connection with the entire city,” said Shulamit Ran, Contempo’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Artistic Director and the William H. Colvin Professor in Music and the College. “It’s part of a natural progression, I think. As we move into the 21st century with a fantastic array of performers as our core musicians, having that broader reach and a new name that is more memorable and compact should help make audiences take note.”

    Not to fear, though, because Contempo also will continue to perform on the University campus, where the bulk of this season’s concerts will be held at the Court Theatre, a venue that is “just right for an intimate concert of modern music,” Ran said.

    Ever since the late composer, conductor and Professor Emeritus in Music Ralph Shapey founded the ensemble in 1964, Contempo has been an active and prominent force in new music, as well as a vital outlet for both artists and composers. Since its inception, Contempo has dedicated itself to the performance of works by the University’s own doctoral candidates in composition, as well as countless other composers whose name recognition may not yet equal their talent. As a result, Contempo has performed more than 80 world premieres of works by both established and emerging composers.

    “Our goal is to help people realize how stimulating and exciting new music is,” Ran said. “I think people have a fear of new music sometimes, and that fear is unfounded. There is so much vigorous, exciting music being written today, and that’s what we’re performing. If you come with an open mind, there’s no way you won’t feel rewarded.”

    The first half of the anniversary concert, a double bill, will feature resident ensembles eighth blackbird and the Pacifica Quartet, as well as soprano Valdine Anderson and conductor Cliff Colnot, in a program of 20th-century works. In the second half, acclaimed jazz musician Brad Mehldau will perform a rare solo piano recital.

    “The double bill is an unusual concert format for us,” Ran said. “We’re putting side-by-side contemporary classical music with music that comes from outside of the classical tradition. But when it comes to powerful, creative minds, the label or category doesn’t matter because, whatever it’s called, the audience will respond to both.”

    For more information on the anniversary concert or Contempo, as well as a schedule of upcoming performances, visit http://contempo.uchicago.edu.

    To purchase tickets, call (773) 702-8068, e-mail concert-office@uchicago.edu or, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, stop by the Office of Professional Concerts, 5720 S. Woodlawn Ave.