Acclaimed musician Nicole Mitchell and the Black Earth Ensemble will perform Mandorla Awakening: Emerging Worldsat the Creative Music Summit at the Museum of Contemporary Art this spring (photo by Kris Sutton Elias).


Creative Music Summit Bringing Innovative Luminaries to MCA Stage

MCA Stage will present the Creative Music Summit, featuring two acclaimed musician-composers in discussions and film screenings, and distinct concert premieres of their multidisciplinary projects, commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. On May 2, Nicole Mitchell and the Black Earth Ensemble will perform Mandorla Awakening: Emerging Worlds, an electroacoustic concert about two futuristic societies created in collaboration with media artist Ulysses Jenkins. On May 3, Renée Baker conducts her Chicago Modern Orchestra Projects in Sunyata: Towards Absolute Emptiness, a chamber opera and dance piece inspired by Buddhist writings about the afterlife. The concerts and related programs are held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and take place in the Edlis Neeson Theater at the MCA.

Creative flutist, composer, bandleader and educator, Nicole Mitchell is an artist whose music celebrates African- American culture while extending across genres into jazz, gospel, experimentalism, pop and African percussion. Mitchell founded Black Earth Ensemble, Black Earth Strings, Ice Crystal and Sonic Projections. She served as the first woman president of the AACM, and has been a member since 1995.

Professor of art at the University of California at Irvine, Ulysses Jenkins is a recognized video/performance artist whose work has been shown in national and international venues. Recent work includes performing as part of the Getty Research Institute's Pacific Standard Time exhibition, performing at LACE gallery for Los Angeles Goes Live, and a presentation of his multi-media installation, Notions of Freedom was shown in the New Belgrade at the Block Gallery in Serbia.

Violinist and composer Renée Baker conducts her twenty-three member Chicago Modern Orchestra Project in the upcoming concert, with guest artists including Nicole Mitchell, Douglas R. Ewart, Michael Zerang, and The Bridge Network's Jean-Luc Cappozzo. Baker is a composer, conductor, ensemble leader, violinist and violist who composes and performs across cultural boundaries. In 2010, her piece Brass Epiphany premiered at MCA Stage as part of ACCM's 45th anniversary. She has founded or led numerous contemporary music projects, including the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, FAQtet, Mantra Blue Free Orchestra, and Red Chai.

Mandorla Awakening: Emerging Worlds takes place May 2 and Sunyata: Towards Absolute Emptiness takes place May 3. For more information about the upcoming performances, call the MCA Box Office is at 312.397.4010 or visit One free general museum admission is granted with an MCA Stage ticket stub, valid up to seven days after the performance.