Photo Credit: Chesley Bonestell, Saturn-sized booster pushes insterstellar expedi­tion toward Earth orbit, ca. 1964. (Adler Collection, CB-14.) Reproduced courtesy of Bonestell LLC.

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The 50th anniversary of Contempo, the University of Chicago's acclaimed contemporary music collective, opens January 24th with Contempo at 50: Now and Then I.

Says artistic director, Shulamit Ran, "At 50 years, ours is a stunning record of longevity and commitment to scaling musical heights in the present tense. This season we will both honor the founding Contemporary Chamber Players (CCP) in a retrospective and share important new voices, too."  

The program features three world premieres - Wave (in memorium:1952-2014) by Lee Hyla, written for eighth blackbird, The End of It (2014) by John Eaton, recipient of the MacArthur "genius" award, and "agitated, rough," the second movement from Huck Hodge's piano quintet, then, composed especially for this event.  

Now and Then I also includes works by two of Contempo's artistic directors: Concertante No. 1 for Trumpet and Ten Instruments (1984) by Contemporary Chamber Players (CCP) founder Ralph Shapey, who conducted the group from its inception until his retirement in 1993; and Perfect Storm (2010) by Shulamit Ran, who, since her appointment in 2002, has led Contempo down a bold artistic path that included new venues and audiences, and a broadened notion of new music including jazz and other genres. 

Ensembles-in-residence Pacifica Quartet and eighth blackbird will be joined by several guest artists: David Fulmer, conductor; Stephen Burns, trumpet; Anthony Cheung, piano; and Sharon Harms, soprano; Masumi Per Rostad, viola.

Before the concert, composers John Eaton and Shulamit Ran will come together for a roundtable discussion on their works, followed by anever-before-seen, 27-minute film documentary on Contempo. As an anniversary gift to patrons, Contempo will offer a free commemorative booklet, which includes Ran's memories of Contempo's history.

For more information about the upcoming anniversary concert, visit chicagopresents.uchicago.edu.


Members of Contempo: eighth blackbird, Pacifica Quartet and Cliff Colnot, conductor (center, standing). Photo courtesy of University of Chicago Presents. 

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Contempo Celebrating 50 years at University of Chicago

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