Chicago Stories

One City. Millions of Stories.

Chicago is a city of diverse people whose stories span the world and culminate here in amazing ways. Chicago Stories brings the city to life on a personal level, while offering an underlying melody of this melting pot of world cultures.

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Book One :: 2017

 

During the first half of 2017, three BBE composers met directly with Chicagoans to learn about their stories and experiences.


 
 

Composer Eric Malmquist meets with Iman, who in the early 1980s fled Iraq as a refugee, eventually landing in Chicago. Iman is a member of Chicago's Assyrian community. 

Eric Malmquist and musicians meet with members of the Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation (AUAF).

 

The first two lines of Eric's work, Two Assyrian Songs. Entitled Iman, the song is a direct transcript of Eric's interview with Iman. Eric scored the piece for two string instruments (violin and gamba), recorder, and countertenor, but also as a piano/voice arrangement. In this song, Iman tells us how she and her brother escaped Iraq, while her family suffered irreparable harm at the hands of the government - a tragic reality for many within the Assyrian community, which has been displaced from their homeland.

 

Taking the inspirations from these encounters, they worked with our ten musicians to develop wholly new compositions based on those stories.


 
 

Composer Heidi Joosten meets with Baroque oboist, Sung Lee, to learn more about the instrument and what it can do. All our composers met with the different performers in this way to better inform their new music.

Heidi works with BBE players on her new piece, Yes. After meeting with minority women leading nonprofits in Chicago, Heidi wrote the piece to convey common themes of leadership and experiences.

 

(To read what our composers discovered about each of the unique BBE instruments, read any of the blogs below, which were curated by Artistic Director Brandi Berry.)

 
 

We premiered these stories set to music on October 14th at the University of Illinois at Chicago and October 15th at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge.


 

Yes.
by Heidi Joosten

 

Iman from Two Assyrian Songs
by Eric Malmquist

Solo!
by Amos Gillespie

 
 
Click image to read the program.

Click image to read the program.

Together, the BBE family explored the contributions of the Alvarez Brothers and their contributions to the Pilsen Latin jazz scene. We journeyed with members of the Assyrian immigrant community, who found refuge in Rogers Park and Lincolnwood. We scaled the wall with an inspiring group of minority women and watched as they crushed glass ceilings.

 
Taken at The Green Mill, Thomas (center-left) performed Eric's Two Assyrian Songs for special guests Iman (far right) and her daughter Enanna (far left). Iman supplied the text for Eric's first song, and Enanna was Thomas' Assyrian diction coach.

Taken at The Green Mill, Thomas (center-left) performed Eric's Two Assyrian Songs for special guests Iman (far right) and her daughter Enanna (far left). Iman supplied the text for Eric's first song, and Enanna was Thomas' Assyrian diction coach.

 

Photo Album

Select photos from the project.

 

Book Two :: Coming in 2018