fifth house ensemble

“You have to admire the sheer imaginative chutzpah these young performers bring to their envelope-pushing enterprise.”

-John Von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

“Young chamber groups devoted to shaking up the traditional concert experience are blossoming in Chicago, and one of the best is the five-year-old Fifth House Ensemble… They are a talented crew, and they brought spontaneity and hair-trigger responsiveness to the music of Black Violet.”

-Wynne Delacoma, Musical America

The Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble is a versatile and dynamic group praised by the New York Times for its “conviction, authority, and finesse.” Having pioneered the art of narrative chamber music with its signature series Black Violet,The Weaver’s Tales, and In Transit, Fifth House’s innovative programs engage audiences through their connective programming and unexpected performance venues.

5HE is defined by its limitless imagination and energy, and an insatiable desire to bring chamber music to audiences of all types. 5HE harnesses the collaborative spirit of chamber music to create transformative cross-media performance experiences that bring together elements as diverse as storytelling, physical theatre, graphic novels, and fashion design. With humor and joy, 5HE breathes life into repertoire both established and emerging, equally at home on the most prestigious stages and unexpected venues including aquariums, train stations, and bars.

As part of its 2014-2015 season, Fifth House Ensemble (5HE) presents four landmark events: following 2013-2014’s footsteps, the long-awaited return of Black Violet Act II: The Great Exodus of the Tamed, written and illustrated by Ezra Claytan Daniels; a collaboration with Raven Theatre and DJ Ryan Searchl1te that tells the stories of young people at the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center; Verklarte Nacht, a program including the title piece with corresponding video art; and a musical journey in collaboration with the Israeli-Spanish music group Baladino.

On tour, 5HE presents performances of Black Violet Act II: The Great Exodus of the Tamed at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the University of Northern Iowa, and the Civic Music Association. Other performances include the Manchester Symphony Society, Concordia University of Ann Arbor, Carthage College, and three world premieres at Illinois Wesleyan University as part of their Sesquicentennial celebration’s Symposium of Contemporary Music. 5HE also returns to DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana for their second year as Ensemble in Residence.

Having established itself as a regular on the Chicago chamber music scene, Fifth House has performed on some of the city’s most well-regarded series and venues including Ravinia, the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts, Mostly Music Series, Waukegan Chamber Music Society, Pritzker Pavilion, Byron Colby Barn, PianoForte Chicago, Live from the Morse/WFMT, WFMT Impromptu, Sunday Salon Series at the Chicago Cultural Center and Rush Hour Concerts at St. James. In addition to public performances, Fifth House Ensemble reaches out to those unable to make it to the concert stage through its MusiCare series, presenting concerts at the Self Help Center and Children’s Memorial Hospital.

Bringing its signature connective programming from the stage to the classroom, 5HE develops young audiences through curriculum-integrated interactive concerts and residencies for students grades K-12. A member of the Illinois Arts Council’s Arts-in-Education Roster, 5HE has presented performances and residencies at Chicago public schools and the Chicago Cultural Center in partnership with the International Music Foundation, the Chicago Teachers’ Center, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, and Ravinia’s Reach*Teach*Play program. Programs are customized to the curriculum of each school, with the goals of promoting active listening skills and connecting music to a wide variety of subjects. This season’s residency sites include Chicago’s Lowell and Stowe Elementary schools, among others, and explore music and storytelling.

Currently Ensemble in Residence at Carthage College, Fifth House also frequently performs for college audiences, including workshops, residencies, and performances at Yale College, Eastman School of Music, New England Conservatory, Northwestern University, the Miller Theater at Columbia University, DePaul University, and the Colburn School. In 2012, 5HE launched fresh inc, a one of a kind chamber music festival that brings together composers and instrumentalists for side-by-side performances, receiving creative presentation and entrepreneurship training.

Members of Fifth House Ensemble are also active as orchestral musicians, having performed with ensembles including the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Peninsula Music Festival, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Also active as educators, members of Fifth House serve on the faculties of Carthage College, the Merit School of Music, Trinity University, and DePaul University.


“In an era where we risk accountability driving out creativity, it is wonderful to have a program that allows students to learn content at high levels within a fine arts framework. 5HE has demonstrated excellence in using music to do what music does best—reaching minds and hearts.”

-Barbara Kent, Principal, Burley Elementary School