“Fifth House Ensemble mixes social media narratives and classical music” — In Transit: #undercoverhero Chicago Reader Preview October 20, 2011

Fifth House Ensemble mixes social media narratives and classical music

Posted by Peter Margasak on Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 5:00 PM


  • Fifth House Ensemble

Beginning on Monday, October 24 the superb local classical music group Fifth House Ensemble launches another of its beguiling conceptual, multi-media excursions, which function as subversive means to get people to hear classical music too often ignored outside of high ticket venues. Last summer I caught them do a terrific performance of Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time (1940) amid the astral projections of the Adler Planetarium (which, to be honest, suffered when the visual portion resorted to Ken Burns-style slow motion close-ups of historical sketches rather than twinkling stars). Last year they also did a series of performances of a multi-media work, replete with theater and dance, called “The Weaver’s Tales,” which featured music by Beethoven, Brahms, Carter, and Vaughan Williams, among others.

Their new project “In Transit” takes the shape of four distinct, stand-along events, all presented free in various venues through May of next year. “In Transit” also employs a kind of narrative structure, with the stories told in real-time using social media via imaginary character profiles created by writer Rebekah Scallet (who also wrote “The Weaver’s Tales”), director Robert Quinlan, and animator Jay Nolte. The audience will see the developing tale projected on a screen while the musicians play music selected specifically to fit the narrative arc. The final portion of each concert will allow audience members to tweet their “hopes for the characters and communities involved in the show, allowing the words of the audience to dictate the characters’ actions and bring the story to a close as the music finishes”

Monday’s performance happens at Preston Bradley Hall in the Chicago Cultural Center and includes pieces by Mozart, Villa-Lobos, Cage, and John Elmquist.

Below you can check out a short trailer for the series.

In Transit Trailer from Fifth House Ensemble on Vimeo.

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