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[Access Contemporary Music] Get Us Across the Finish Line!

 2019 was a big year for ACM with successful events in New York, Chicago and Milwaukee, a sold-out Sound of Silent Film Festival, the reprise of our Thirsty Ears classical music street fest in Chicago, new commissions from twenty-one composers and continued growth in our ACM School of Music.
We couldn’t have done it without individual supporters like yourself, both large and small.  We’ve launched an important end of year fundraising campaign and we’re almost halfway to our goal!
I hope that you’ll take a moment to help us reach our goal with a donation in any amount.  Most of our donations come from small donors so any amount is truly helpful. Plus we have a matching grant from one of our board members for up to $1,000 so your donation goes twice as far.
Your financial support helps us to continue to commission composers, to teach musical creativity in our music schools and to produce exciting events like Sound of Silent Film, our Live at the Davis concert series and of course the Thirsty Ears street festival.
I personally believe in the transformative power of music as I’ve seen it in my own life and I see it every day at ACM.  I hope you’ll take a moment to help us transform a life with music today. 




Seth Boustead
Executive Director
Access Contemporary Music




Board Member Marilyn Caton’s « Magical Moment » with ACM



2019 In Review

Open House New York
ACM collaborated with Open House New York on two fantastic events in the newly reopened TWA Hotel at JFK Airport.  Originally designed by Eero Saarinen as the TWA Flight Center, the building had been empty for years and was in danger of being closed.
Instead it reopened as a swanky hotel with a cocktail lounge in a jumbo jet, an infinity pool overlooking the Jet Blue runway, a design museum and much more.  We commissioned four composers (Seth Boustead, Stephanie Ann Boyd, Anthony R. Green and Ed Windels) to write music inspired by the space.
In June we partnered with musicians from Random Access Music and the New York City Ballet to perform the pieces as part of Open House New York’s annual gala. Stephanie’s piece was chosen by dancers from the New York Ballet to add a live dance element to her piece.  It was stunning.
In October we presented the music again, this time as part of a conversation with the architects and designers who envisioned the new space.  Their insights about the design and renovation process were punctuated with performances of the four pieces.  There were seven hundred people in attendance and you could have heard a pin drop in the room.
Open House Chicago
We collaborated with Open House Chicago for the eighth year in a row to commission music inspired by a landmark space in the city.  This year Trevor Patrick Watkin wrote a new piece for the historic Forum in Bronzeville.
The Forum was an important meeting, gathering and performance space for black residents in Chicago who were shut out of other civic venues and so created their own.
Shuttered for many years and nearly torn down, the venue was saved by the efforts of one highly motivated person and is now on track for landmark status. 

Doors Open Milwaukee
Our fifth year working in Milwaukee for Doors Open was a huge success. We were in three venues this year: the Milwaukee Ballet, the Grain Exchange and WE Energies.
We collaborated primarily with musicians from the Milwaukee Symphony and Milwaukee Ballet and the musicians played the pieces every fifteen minutes for self guided tours.  The music was very well received, the spaces were gorgeous and it was a huge success overall.

Live at the Davis
We produced four dynamic concerts at the Davis Theater, a beloved movie theater on Chicago’s north side, recently renovated and now featuring a full restaurant and bar.   
These concerts are where we bring the music of eclectic composers around the globe to life for a curious and ever-expanding audience.  The four concerts were:

Speaking in Tongues
Speaking in Tongues featured music inspired by and incorporating language.  Works performed included Lee Hyla’s We Speak Etruscan and Martin Bresnick’s Ishi’s Song, both inspired by the languages of bygone cultures. 
We also performed multi-media works by Alex Temple Willingly and Florent Ghys featuring manipulated sound and video recordings from their friends and colleagues.
And the highlight of the program was Steve Reich’s landmark work Different Trains. 
Indigenous Instruments
ACM’s second concert at the Davis this year paired Steven Mackey’s piece Indigenous Instruments with three pieces combining western instruments with actual indigenous instruments from around the world.
The concert featured Peter Sculthorpe’s String Quartet No. 12 « From Ubirr » for digeridoo and string quartet, Jade for string quartet and pipa by Zhu Jian’er and Paul Moravec’s masterful Shakuhachi Quintet for shakuhachi and string quartet.
Our renowned soloists were Tim Porcelli on digeridoo, Yang Wei, a founding member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, on pipa, and world-renowned shakuhachi player James Nyoraku Schlefer.





In September we presented a concert featuring Gabriela Lena Frank’s wonderful chamber work Hilos, or Threads.  Inspired by Peruvian folk stories and music from around the country, this series of miniatures crackles with irrepresible energy.
We also performed Jonathan Russell’s piece Full Faith and Credit inspired by the global economic meltdown of 2008 and we gave the Chicago premiere of Donnacha Dennehy’s sprawlingly ambitious multi-media work Tessellatum.
Tessellatum featured soloists Nadia Sirota and Gabriel Byrne.






Inner Worlds
We closed out the year with a concert of music meant to be played entirely inside the piano. 
Inner Worlds featured music by Henry Cowell, Lois Vierk and Vivian Fung paired with pieces we commissioned from Pierce Gradone, Roger Tréfousse, Randall West, Lisa Neher and Jeff Kowalkowski and Mark Mahoney.
Cameras inside the piano put the image onto the big screen so our audience could see how every sound was produced and microphones brought every sonic nuance to life.
It was like putting the audience inside a grand piano and was our most popular concert of the year.





Thirsty Ears Festival Year 4
This was the fourth year we’ve produced Chicago’s only classical music street festival and we were excited to see our attendance grow to 3,000 people over the two days.
We repeated our Sound of Silent Film Festival on the street at sundown on Saturday night and closed out the fest on Sunday night with a magical performance of our original radio play 1,001 Afternoons in Chicago.
We continued to receive sponsorships from WFMT, Shure, Empirical Brewing and PianoForte Chicago and picked up new sponsors in Loyola University and the Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.

ACM School of Music
Concerts and commissions are an important part of ACM’s mission but the place we’re most able to effect positive change day after day is in our music schools. 
The ACM School of Music serves three hundred students in four locations across Chicago and teaches musical creativity alongside note reading and an appreciation for musical creativity of all kinds.
This year the school grew enrollment by 20% and presented its second public performance of music entirely composed by our students.  We also added chamber ensemble classes and a film scoring class this year.
The storefronts are embedded into communities and most of our teaching, (and rehearsing) is done in the window so even if you don’t take lessons with us, chances are you see musical creativity happening every day.



Sound of Silent Film Festival
We produced our Sound of Silent Film Festival in Chicago for the fourteenth year. Featuring newly commissioned scores performed live to modern silent films, this is one of our most popular events.  
In 2019 we did two shows at the Davis Theater, both of which sold out, and we collaborated with art house ensemble Origin of Animal for the late show. 




Well if you’ve made it this far then you’re definitely interested in ACM’s mission and programs so why not take a moment to donate?  Thank you so much for your support and we’ll see you in 2020!




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