We had a pretty amazing first day, but man, day 2 topped day 1!


After waking up to beautiful sunshine, we started the day off today with an education workshop led by Crystal and Eric.  With a little help from Drew, they explained the different kinds of education and outreach programs we lead, and  even demonstrated some of the activities we lead in education performances!  My favorite activity that they demonstrated involved a jump rope & the speed of its twirl and how that correlated with the tempo of the music.  Festival composer Nick Baskin help Crystal twirl the jump rope beautifully while Drew & Eric played along with the tempo.


After our education workshop, we loaded a bus for our first off site performance!  We headed to Milwaukee and our performing participants left us awestruck with their performances, accompanied by the stunning back drop of the Milwaukee coast of Lake Michigan.  Performances today featured festival participants Danielle Simandl, Rita Andrade, Matt Kline, Rachael Eid-Ries, Jennifer Ellis, Jonathan Hulting-Cohen, Elmyn Johnson, and Jabez Co.  What made this performance even more exciting is that in addition to hearing instrumentalists perform, some composers also had the opportunity to perform on their primary instrument.


Once the performance was finished, we loaded the bus, headed back to campus, and Melissa & Jenny presented our Arts Start Up workshop, complete with an activity that involved crayons and an assignment for our participants.


We had time to squeeze in a rehearsal block this afternoon and a couple of composition lessons before dinner, and this evening, we rounded out the day with a workshop about budgeting with Melissa, Stacy, and Dan.


I heard through the grape vine some of our musicians were planning on rehearsing tonight, so the day isn’t quite done for all of us!  Tomorrow night we end with our first participant led salon!


WOW!  I can’t believe it!  After months and months of planning, lots of staff meetings, and even more emails, the 2013 fresh inc festival has started!  On Sunday, participants from across the country traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin to start the epic journey that is this festival!  After finding their way through the maze that gets you from the dining hall to the music building and back, we all ate dinner, everyone very patiently listened to me give them more information than any one human should have to absorb in an hour, we introduced ourselves, and then we had s’mores!  For those of you who don’t know, s’mores are a tradition for us, and we would have been outside roasting mallows in the pouring down rain if we had to (and if that were possible…)!


After what was hopefully a good night sleep for everyone, we awoke to a foggy morning for Day 1 of the festival!  But despite the limited visibility across campus, our participants dove right into the day with their eyes wide open!  Here’s a little of what we were up to today:

First, we started with auditions.  This festival includes THREE performances for which participants (composers and instrumentalists) can audition to perform!  Karl and Jenny sat through hours of auditions today, and had the extremely difficult, but very exciting task, of programming these concerts.


We took a break in the middle of auditions to have a Skype session with composer JacobTV.  He talked about the influence of pop culture on his music, his experience with copyright issues, dealing angry music lovers turned bloggers, and the opera he’s writing!  The biggest take away from his workshop for our composers is that JacobTV got his big break by writing for accordion!  He found that writing for rare instruments meant his pieces got played, and therefore people started seeking him out to write music for them.  Lesson learned: WRITE MUSIC FOR VIOLA AND BASS!


In between more auditions, we managed to squeeze in a couple of composer presentations.  Composers in residence Stacy Garrop and Dan Visconti each presented some of their works to the composers, and then a couple of our festival composers had the chance to present some of their works to the group for discussion and questions. Over the course of the full two weeks, all 15 composers will get a chance to present their work.  I snuck in while composer (and Rapido! Take Three Midwest semi-finalist) Kevin Wilt was playing a recording of an orchestra piece he’d written that included some pretty awesome oboe solos!


In the afternoon, Chicago actor and director Aaron Todd Douglas joined us for a public speaking and stage presence workshop.  We learned about the various ways that stage fright or anxiety presents itself physically or mentally, ways to work through those times, and the importance of standing in a relaxed, neutral position.  And a bunch of other stuff, too!


In between these workshops and auditions, we were able to squeeze in a few rehearsals.  I snuck past the room where Melissa, Jennifer, and Katie were rehearsing a Debussy Trio for flute, viola, and harp, and it sounded pretty stellar!  One of the pieces I’m most excited to hear rehearsed at the festival is Shostakovich’s Ninth String Quartet.  You might remember that 5HE played this in March, transposed for the Real String Quartet (violin, viola, cello, bass), and it was epic!  Well, since the instrument we have the most of at the festival is viola (4! Well, 5 if you count Clark.), we thought this would be piece would be perfect to do!  Participant Timothy plays the violin part, Clark plays the violin ii part on his viola (which he learned for the March concert), Katie plays the original viola part on viola, and Matt E playing the cello part on bass just like Eric did in March.  The minute or two I got to hear while passing through today sounded pretty awesome!


We rounded the evening off with a faculty salon, and we ended up playing three pieces from last year’s festival!  Our RSQ played Jason Charney’s Ocean Body, Melissa & Jenny played Chelsea Komschlies’ Steam, and our reed trio played Jesse Limbacher’s Air.  Plus, we rounded the salon off with George Crumb’s Voice of the Whale, a 5HE favorite!


Tomorrow morning we have an education outreach workshop with Crystal and Eric, and then we head to the Milwaukee Art Museum for our first performance!



As you might have noticed by checking out the 2013 performance schedule, we have a ton of exciting performance opportunities at this year’s festival!

Just like last year, we will perform at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Rush Hour Concerts (as part of the Make Music Chicago Grand Finale), and have two final performances, plus well as our salon nights on campus.  And the concerts we’ve added are equally as exciting!  We’ll be heading up the road to Racine, Wisconsin to perform at the Racine Art Museum, and we’ll make an additional trip into Chicago for a performance on the Chicago Cultural Center’s Classical  Mondays series in Preston Bradley Hall.  We’re really looking forward to hearing all of the exciting music our participants have to share with the world this summer!

But how will we decide what to program on these six performances?  I’m so glad you asked!  In addition to the extensive list of repertoire that our participants will be rehearsing at the festival, which includes 15 pieces commissioned for the festival by our participating composers, we are also inviting our participants to audition pieces to perform at the Milwaukee and Racine Art Museums and the Chicago Cultural Center.  On the first day of the festival, participants will have the chance to audition short pieces, including works for toy piano, and our faculty members will have the difficult but exciting task of selecting which pieces will be played on which programs.  This means that not only do you have SIX chances to experience fresh inc in performance, but each of these performances will be distinctly different!  So you should probably try to catch them all!



And we’re back!  Part 2 of your sneak peeks into fresh inc as we get closer and closer to this year’s festival!  This week, our staff has been busy getting scores and parts out to our participants and reserving large motor coach buses to get us to and from our performances in Chicago, Evanston, and Milwaukee.  They definitely don’t teach you how to book motor coach buses in music or theatre school (I went to the latter, although I know most of you went to the former), but when you gotta do it, you gotta learn it!  And it’s actually not that hard!  

Kevin Clark HeadshotAnd here’s your actual sneak peek: three weeks from today, on the first Thursday of the festival, faculty members Melissa Snoza, Stacy Garrop, and Dan Visconti will be joined via Skype by Kevin Clark, a composer and the communications manager for New Music USA, to team lead a workshop on fundraising that will cover grant writing and fundraising for musicians and composers.

They’ll also discuss Kevin’s area of expertise: crowdfunding.  Kevin will share the nuts and bolts and practical steps of using crowdfunding in a number of capacities, and we’ll also see what kind of observations he might have on the larger landscape of funding for artists and why this is such a good option for many of us.

Melissa, 5HE’s flutist and executive director, is our grant writing genius, and both Stacy and Dan have applied for, and won, a number of grants each as well (including with 5HE!).  We’re also excited to hear about New Music USA’s grant giving process and some recent changes they’ve made to their giving strategy.  As some of you might know, 5HE was a recent winner of a New Music USA grant to fund the commission of Caleb Burhans’ chamber opera Excelsior, A New Music USA Commission*, which we premiered in March.  

And lastly, here’s a shameless plug for you!  Speaking of Caleb Burhans’ Excelsior, Fifth House Ensemble is hosting a reprise performance of the piece.  On Sunday, June 2, 2013, 5HE will make its Constellation debut here in Chicago.  Constellation is Chicago’s new premiere new music venue, and this exciting program will also be Caleb’s midwest release party for his new album on Cantaloupe Records.  We hope you’ll join us at 8:30pm on 6/2 for an exciting performance in addition to joining us at as many fresh inc performances as possible!

*Excelsior was commissioned through New Music USA’s Commissioning Music/USA program, which is made possible by generous support form the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Helen F. Whitaker Fund.



Three Weeks Away!

Day6-65Guess what!!  We’re now just under the three week mark until the 2013 fresh inc festival!  Everyone here at Team Fifth House could not be more excited to be heading to Kenosha to spend two glorious weeks working with our fabulous roster of participants this year.  In the past few weeks, 5HE staff has been working tirelessly to prepare for the festival.  I’m going to try to give you a sneak peeks into our preparation as we get closer and closer to June 9, 2013.

Some of the things we’ve been working on in the last weeks and months include:

  • booking a number of performance opportunities to make sure our instrumentalists and composers are heard by as many people as possible
  • drafting a contact sheet so all of our participating composers and instrumentalists know how to get a hold of each other and us
  • selecting and assigning repertoire to musicians, and then split the repertoire into rehearsal blocks (and make sure no one is double booked!)
  • creating a schedule of events for the festival, including working with our guest experts to schedule their workshops
  • collecting parts & scores from participating composers and for the standard rep works we’ll be rehearsing and playing
  • collecting emergency contact forms & travel forms from our participants
  • reserving buses to get us to and from our performances in Chicago, Evanston, and Milwaukee
  • sending out press releases to area media outlets to let them know about our performances
  • updating our outreach workshop scripts to allow for fresh inc participants to join us on an outreach visit
  • and a plethora of other things

And while there is still a lot to do, we can’t wait to be on campus at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and get our hands dirty with some killer music and awesome workshops!  If you haven’t had a chance yet, check out who is joining us for this year’s festival, and mark your calendars for when you can see them perform — you definitely won’t want to miss these opportunities!

Check back in a day or two to hear more about our preparation and planning for the 2013 fresh inc festival, as well as to learn about what will be keeping us busy during the festival!