Chicago Stories

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$5,153 raised of $5,000 goal
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Brandi Berry Benson's project was funded on June 30, 2018
    • 3Arts matched
    • 103% contributed

In a Nutshell

Chicago Stories is a music project featuring newly commissioned works by Chicago composers inspired by the stories and experiences of fellow Chicagoans and their communities. It all started with a conversation I had with my Bach & Beethoven Experience (BBE) co-director, Thomas Alaan, when we asked ourselves what might be possible if we presented music that was not only brand new, but directly reflective of the people and communities of our city. Along with my esteemed BBE colleagues, we will commission and perform six new works by three Chicago composers about three communities around Chicago, including: 1) those established as a result of the Great Migration on the South Side, 2) the Swedish immigrant community in Andersonville, and 3) our neighbors along the 606 trail. Funds from this campaign will help us produce an inspiring and unique show featuring an ensemble of 12 performers on period and modern instruments—like the harpsichord and viola da gamba with the harmonica and percussion. It will also feature storytellers and opportunities for audience members to share their own Chicago stories. Performances will take place at the Den Theater in Wicker Park on October 7, as well as Armour Square Park (October 6) and Loyola Park (September 29) as part of the Night Out in the Parks series. Your donations are a major part of bringing your fellow Chicagoan’s stories to life through music!


The Full Story...

Chicago Stories is the most personal artistic project my co-director Thomas and I have ever undertaken. In that same conversation when we asked ourselves—what if we produced new music relative to our home city—it occurred to me that some of my favorite composers, like J.S. Bach and Beethoven, made work with a similar impulse. All of them wrote brand new music for and about other people they knew in their cities. Starting with the composers, I will have the privilege to work with two of my fellow 3Arts awardees: Regina Harris Baiocchi (2011) and Ronnie Kuller (2013). Our third composer, Kurt Westerburg, is a colleague at  DePaul University. He was the first composer with whom I experimented writing new music for period instruments, resulting in a work that he composed for my baroque violin and harpsichord.

Each of these composers then chose communities that were personal to them. They gathered stories through their interactions with those communities and will write music inspired by and about them. Regina’s works will take us back in time on the journey of those who moved to the South Side of Chicago as a result of the Great Migration. Kurt will explore the ties between his Swedish family heritage and the longstanding Swedish immigrant community in Andersonville. Ronnie shares the experiences of living along the 606 and the positive impact it has made on that community. The composers also chose a variety of period and modern instruments, including harpsichord, viola da gamba, recorder, baroque flute, baroque violin, sackbut (predecessor to the trombone), harmonica, percussion, and voice.

We have completed the first developmental phase of this project whereby the composers select their community/neighborhood and gather stories. There are three remaining phases: incubators, sketch rehearsals, and the final rehearsal/performance week.  For the incubators, each of the composers will meet with the instrumentalists and vocalists to learn best practices for writing for their instruments and voices and to collaboratively experiment with musical ideas. The next phase is for the ensemble to have a sketch rehearsal of the composers’ compositional drafts. This gives the composers a chance to hear the work with the whole group, check balance between instruments and parts, and deduce what went well and what needs further revising. The composers will then have several weeks to finish revisions and get ready for the final rehearsal week.

We will document and share our experiences throughout the whole process with blogs, articles, and other features through our social media channels and open rehearsals. We will also involve other organizations that are tied to the represented communities such as Friends of the 606, Swedish American Museum, and others, in addition to our partnership with Night Out in the Parks.

Funds from the campaign will go toward artist fees and the commissions. Your donations will help bring the stories of our fellow Chicagoans to life through music and stand as a timeless testament to Chicago-centric art.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25 - Personal shout-out on social media and acknowledgement in the printed program
    ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50 - Above plus an invitation to an open rehearsal
    ($50.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100 - Above plus two tickets to a "Chicago Stories" performance with VIP seating
    ($70.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250 - Above plus a copy of the audio recording of the live performance in the form of a CD or downloadable tracks
    ($190.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500 - Above plus dedication of one of the compositions onstage at the live performance and in the printed program, and a show poster autographed by the performers
    ($400.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $1000 - Above plus an autographed copy of the score of one of the "Chicago Stories" compositions of your choice
    ($750.00 is tax deductible.)
Brandi Berry Benson image
Violinist/Fiddler, Brandi Berry Benson, whose "four-string acrobatics" and "indispensable skill" (TimeOut Chicago) have been praised as "alert [and] outstanding" (Chicago Classical Review), has also been noted for her "riffs…powered ...
  • Update 1: We're off to a great start!! Special thank you to my father-in-law, Ray, and banjo extraordinaire Michael for helping kick us off! :)
    Posted on May 16, 2018
    Update 2: A BIG Thank you to the BBE's fabulous board member Ann Chen and also my awesome climbing buddy Jill! :) Thank you for believing in us!!
    Posted on May 17, 2018
    Update 3: Thank you SO SO much Linda Rosencranz and Sheila Forsyth for your continued support of the BBE!! :) Thank you also Harold and Arnie for your continued support as well!
    Posted on May 21, 2018
    Update 4: A TX-sized shout out to our very own 3Arts ED Esther Grimm for her neverending support and enthusiasm for Chicago art!! Thank you for believing in us!
    Posted on May 22, 2018
    Update 5: We are so grateful to so many people! A major shout out to Lam Ho for his amazing generosity. We can't say thank you enough!
    Posted on May 28, 2018
    Update 6: Also want to shout out to our board prez Joanna Broussard, our BBE traverso player Leighann Daihl for their support and belief in Chicago Stories!
    Posted on May 28, 2018
    Update 7: A very special thank you to the awesome Terry Miles, Maria Mora, and Mike and Christina Drouet for their enthusiasm and support. We are so grateful! Thank you so much again to all of you for getting us to 80% of our goal ALREADY! and we still have just over a month left. We are overwhelmed with gratitude! :)
    Posted on May 28, 2018
    Update 8: We are so floored by the generosity of all of you! Thank you Deborah, and everyone who has made this possible! We are closing in on our goal thanks to all of you who have made this possible!!!
    Posted on May 30, 2018
    Update 9: Thank you so much Valerie for your contribution and to all who have contributed so far! We're closing in on 100%!! Almost there!! Thank you for your generosity!!
    Posted on June 20, 2018
    Update 10: Thank you Gail for your generosity!! We are 6 days and counting from our goal! Thank you all for helping us get closer :)
    Posted on June 24, 2018
    Update 11: Woohoo!!! We've crossed the finish line!! Thank you so much Amy Funk and Betty James for helping us get there! We are SO grateful and want to thank everyone for making this project a reality!!
    Posted on June 27, 2018
    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Michael Miles

    • Ray Benson

    • Jill Tuinier

    • Ann Chen

    • Ann Chen

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Harold Barnett

    • Sheila Forsyth

    • Linda Rosencranz

    • Arnie Brown

    • Esther Grimm

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Lam Ho

    • Joanna Broussard

    • Maria Mora

    • Terrence Miles

    • leighann Ragusa

    • Michael Drouet

    • Deborah Wehman

    • Laurence Libin

    • Regina Harris Baiocchi

    • Rebecca Incledon

    • Mark Beasley

    • Jon Satrom

    • Valerie Glowinski

    • gail hajjar

    • Gloria Berry

    • Amy Funk

    • Glenda Lipsmeyer

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This is our way of helping great projects see the light of day, while introducing our community to some of Chicago’s most brilliant artists.

3AP is funded in part by grants from:

The Field Foundation  Illinois Arts Council