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[Access Contemporary Music] Let’s Open House!

- Integrating musical creativity into everyday life
Begun in London in 1992, Open House is a simple but powerful concept: showcasing outstanding architecture for all to experience, completely free of charge. Open House initiatives invite everyone to explore their own city, especially hidden gems that are not usually open to the public. 
The Open House concept quickly spread around the globe and there are now Open House organizations and events in 47 cities.  Since its inception in 2011, ACM has worked with Open House Chicago to commission composers to write music inspired by different landmark buildings and to place musicians in the buildings to perform the music every fifteen minutes throughout the day.
We’re very excited this year to also be working with Open House New York.  We’ve commissioned four composers to write music inspired by the iconic Eero Saarinen-designed TWA Flight Center which has recently reopened at the TWA Hotel. 
Please read more about these great collaborations below and we hope to see you at one of them.  Videos will be posted soon!



Open House Chicago – The Forum
Built in 1897, The Forum is home to the oldest assembly and social hall in Bronzeville and contains what may be the oldest hardwood dance floor in Chicago. This imposing red brick building was an epicenter of the “Black Metropolis”, the “city-within-a-city” created by African Americans to provide the retail and social needs they were barred from accessing within broader Chicago.
The Forum hosted leading performers, prominent social events, and some of the era’s most important union meetings and political assemblies, while providing a wide range of hospitality and retail amenities. After remaining vacant for nearly 30 years, The Forum was narrowly saved from city-ordered demolition in 2011 by a neighborhood resident who brought together a team to stabilize the complex and develop a plan for its revitalization.
Trevor Patrick Watkin, the composer for the Forum, says « everything about The Forum is intimidating: its red-brick facade, the sprawling second-floor ballroom, the high ceiling mottled by decades of neglect, and even the modest stage that once hosted great heavyweights like Johnny Long, Milt Hinton, and Nat King Cole.
Similarly intimidating is the fight by Bernard Loyd and Urban Junction to protect it from demolition, a critical first step on the structure’s path toward reclaiming its place as a community touchstone. The Forum’s current state is a sober reminder of the vacant lots across the city where perhaps once stood other structures containing lifetimes of rich stories now lost forever.
Nevertheless, « Arise » is not an epic tone-poem chronicling the Forum’s history as a cultural hub fallen into disrepair. Rather, it celebrates the community that joined together to preserve this structure and safeguard its future. « Arise » also celebrates the assurance of the Forum’s complete restoration, where a new generation may once again gather on the city’s oldest hardwood ballroom dance floor.
The opening trumpet solo was my one indulgence, however. The acoustics of the space are dynamite, and I wanted to showcase them the best way I knew. »


Saturday, October 19
12:00 – 3:00
324 E. 43rd St.

Music by Trevor Patrick Watkin
Performed by:

John Dorhauer, trumpet
RIchard Zili, clarinet
Kelsee Vandervall, cello
Jason Ellis, bass 


Open House New York – TWA Hotel
Closed since 2001, the former TWA Flight Center has been recently reimagined as a swanky hotel with multiple cocktail lounges, including one inside a vintage TWA jetliner, a rooftop infinity pool with views of the runway, museum exhibitions on the flight age and much more. 
ACM, in collaboration with Open House New York, has commissioned composers Seth Boustead, Stephanie Ann Boyd, Anthony R. Green and Ed Windels to write new pieces inspired by the space and we will be performing them in the space on October 20 as part of a very special event.
The designers and architects tasked with reimagining this iconic space will be on hand for a panel presentation and we’ll alternate performances of the pieces and comments from the composers about how the space inspired them, with commentary about the design of the space.
Though there is room for 1,000 people, sadly this event is sold out.  But we’ll post videos in next month’s newsletter!
Read the composers artist statements


Doors Open Milwaukee Videos
We had a great weekend in Milwaukee last month!  Doors Open is a similar concept to Open House and is also now in multiple cities around the globe.  In Milwaukee we worked with three fascinating buildings including the newly opened, fabulously designed new facilities for the Milwaukee Ballet.
Check out the videos below! 

The Grain Exchange
The Grain Exchange Room located in the Mackie Building, showcases beautiful “Simple Italian” architecture, soaring ceilings, hand painted frescoes, gold leaf and over 10,000 sq. feet of usable event space in an outstanding and historical location.
The three story “cathedral of commerce” was closely linked with the early commercial history of Milwaukee, when for a brief time, the city was the world’s largest primary wheat market for trading, exporting and inspecting grain.
Music by Debra Kaye
Performed by: Peter Thomas – cello and Cory Tiffin – clarinet

Milwaukee Ballet
Doors Open participants were among the first guests to see this new 52,000-sq foot, state-of-the-art facility for Milwaukee Ballet’s professional dancers, School & Academy classes and Community Engagement Programs.
Music by Gene Pritsker
Performed by Beth Warne – violin, Julia Richter – flute

WE Energies
Construction of The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company’s (now known as We Energies) Public Service Building began in 1902, as the company replaced horse-drawn trolleys with electric interurban trains.
Electric trains rolled through the building’s first floor when it was completed in 1905. This 112 year old, neoclassic gem, with matched Italian marble walls and a second-floor art deco auditorium, played an important role in changing Milwaukee with trains, buses, electricity, natural gas, steam heat and even appliances sales, serving as the utility’s headquarters the entire time.
Music by Shanan Estreicher
Performed by Orlando Pimentel – clarinet and Heather Yarmel – flute

Submissions Open for Sound of Silent Film Festival
ACM’s popular Sound of Silent Film Festival features newly commissioned music performed live to modern silent films.  We get the films through an international search and submissions are now open!
We’re looking for short silent films (2 to 20 minutes) in all genres, or films without dialogue that can be screened in silence.  Our composers will write a new score for the film and we’ll play it live on March 28th, which marks the fifteenth anniversary of this unique film festival. 

Submit Now
‘Activate ACM’ Campaign Goal Reached

Thank you to the 97 donors who helped us reach our goal in our Activate ACM campaign! 

We embarked on an ambitious campaign to raise $20,000 to help us radically improve our Ravenswood school facility. 

Architect Carly Cannell has crafted a vision of what the space could be that is consistent with our mission of accessibility and includes several space improvements like:

  • Soundproof rooms
  • Better visibility from the street
  • Coffee bar in the waiting area, with any revenue going toward scholarships
  • Increased teaching capacity
  • Better heat and AC flow to rooms and waiting area
  • Cutting edge visual design consistent with our brand identity

We’re so thrilled to have reached our goal and will be announcing next steps very soon.


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