Early Saturday morning, we loaded the bus, as well as a few cars, to head to Chicago for an epic day of performances!

Our first stop was Make Music Chicago!
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We played in a large room at Roosevelt University in the loop with huge windows on to Wabash Ave.  Our first performer, Jessica Pollack, played her solo outside to help encourage passersby to come in and join us, and we played for a packed room at Roosevelt!

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We had Potbelly for lunch, and the participants were able to wander around for a little bit before we loaded the bus to head to destination number two: Constellation!

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Despite the crazy traffic trying to get over to Western Ave, we made it to Constellation in time for a smooth soundcheck.  Following soundcheck, we had Lou Malnati’s pizza delivered for dinner and had a bit of a break before concert time!

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Our final concert at Constellation was a huge success, and it was great to have an almost full house for our participants — including fresh inc 2013 alum Evan Williams!

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Following the concert, we were able to mingle with our audience members, take some photos, and hang out before we had to pack up the bus and trek back to Kenosha!  

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After breakfast on the final Friday of fresh inc, the participants presented their New Venture Challenges.  During the first day of the festival, participants were split into groups, and each group had to work up a project proposal for one of the performance venues from the festival.

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These presentations are an exciting part of the festival for us because it’s really cool to see our participants start to put the information they’re learning to use!

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After a quick break, we had four members of other chamber ensembles join us up on campus for a panel discussion.

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We’re very grateful that Ryan Muncy, Doug Perkins, Steven Burns, and Rob Dillon made the trek up to Kenosha to talk to us and then join us for lunch!

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Each panel participant talked about the structure of their group, their interactions with composers and their commissioning processes, and projects they’ve worked on.  Melissa helped moderate the session, and I’d say it was a huge success and much appreciated by our participants!  It was also great to have them join us for lunch after the session so we could continue the conversations a little longer.

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After lunch, we had our dress rehearsal for our UWP performance, a couple of composition lessons, and an impromptu salon to play a few more pieces for the group.

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Before dinner, our four fresh inc 2.0 participants, participants who returned to the festival for a second year, presented the projects that they’ve been working on as part of their time at the festival.  We’re all insanely proud of the work Andrew O’Connor, bass, Dani Simandl, violin, Rachael Claire Eid-Ries, viola, and Alex Cooke, composer, did, and we’re looking forward to seeing these projects grow outside of fresh inc!

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After dinner, we had our dress rehearsal for our Constellation Chicago performance, and then we all hit the sack for a busy Saturday!

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The final Thursday of fresh inc 2014 was an intense rehearsal and lesson day for the participants.

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Instrumentalists spent most of the day in rehearsals or lessons and practicing, and some of the fresh inc 2.0 participants had meetings with faculty members to work on their projects.

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The composers had a forum with Stacy and Dan on self promotion, and a coupe of composers gave their presentations as well.

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Following dinner, we had an exciting double Skype session with composers Austin Wintory and Hummie Mann.

Austin went first and talked about how he came to compose music for video games, and he filled us in on his fascinating story of being introduced to music and composition and what got him interested.  He filled us in on current and upcoming projects, and we’re all looking forward to seeing what he’s up to next!

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After we spoke with Austin for a while, we dialed in Hummie Mann.  Hummie talked about his work in film and television composition, his path to where he is now, and upcoming projects!

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It was great to hear some incredible insights from experts in the field of media composition, and this evening’s session definitely opened up many doors in the minds of our participants!


Wednesday morning was jam packed with rehearsals, lessons, and practicing!  After the workshop heavy day on Tuesday, it was nice to get back to the nitty gritty of rehearsing and working on getting our pieces performance ready Wednesday morning.

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After lunch, we loaded the cars and headed to the Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha — one of our favorite days at the festival, and one of the most memorable events for our participants.

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Downstairs, an awesome group of participants gave a performance of Music Can Tell A Story for the younger kids.

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Upstairs, another awesome group of participants lead a Young Composers Workshop for the older kids.

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I could go on and on about the performance and workshop, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves :).

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After the Boys and Girls Club performances, we headed back to campus to finish up the day.  Shortly after we returned, the festival’s three participating harpists joined the composers forum to talk about writing for harp and do some instrument demos.

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Following the harp demo, 5HE’s violinist Drew talked to the composers about writing for young violinists.  Drew has an extensive studio of young students in Chicago, and he’s worked with a number of composers to expand the repertoire available for young violinists.

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The rest of the instrumentalists had the afternoon off to practice or have lessons.

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Following dinner was our final salon night of the festival!

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We had some incredible works performed by participants that they brought to the festival to perform or that they collaborated with others during the festival to put together.

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We also heard performances of pieces that were being rehearsed at the festival before closing day 10. 
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Monday was our day off, so there’s not too much to report!  Faculty members hit up their favorite Kenosha food place — Captain Mike’s, and our participants went to the beach, explored Kenosha, and did some practicing.

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The second Tuesday of fresh inc got us back into the swing of things bright and early!

For the first half of the morning, we had more rehearsals, composition lessons, and composer presentations.

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The second half of the morning found us in a couple workshops.  John Henes returned for a second Alexander Technique workshop with our instrumentalists.  John, who teaches Alexander Technique at Northwestern University, did demonstrations with some of our participants.

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The composers had a workshop with Dan & Stacy on producing and commercial works.

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After lunch, we had one of our most popular workshops — fundraising!  For the first part of the workshop, Kevin Clark, a composer who also works at New Music USA and happens to be an expert on crowd funding, talked about the ins and outs of crowd funding, answered questions, and even highlighted a few of our participants who raised their fresh inc tuition through crowd funding this year!

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For the second part of the workshop, Melissa talked about fundraising through grant writing and individual donations.

We broke the afternoon up with some more rehearsing and composer presentations, and then we all came back together for a workshop on sales and budgets, which was lead by Melissa and 5HE’s program director Anna Duncan.  We were excited to have Anna with us on campus for the day!

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Dinner followed our sales and budgets workshop, and after dinner, Anna and other 5HE faculty members rehearsed with the participants who signed up to go to the Boys and Girls Club the following day.  In one room, Jani, Deuce, and Stacy worked with a group to rehearse 5HE’s Young Composer workshop, and in another room, Clark & Valerie lead the rehearsal on Music Can Tell A Story.  Anna floated between the two rehearsals to give her expertise when needed!

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Stay tuned for an update for day 10, which includes our visit to the Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha!