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Chicago Stories: The Album Campaign


The Plan

In 2017 and 2018, the BBE commissioned six composers to write new music for period (or “early” or “Baroque”) instruments that told the stories of Chicago’s people, neighborhoods, and communities. These were the stories and experiences of real people and communities that make up the fabric of Chicago today. They are the stories of women and immigrants, of people of color and of neighborhoods, of family and special places full of memory.

We need your help to tell these stories.

In 2019, we plan to give encore performances of Chicago Stories as part of Chicago’s Night Out in the Parks Series, which brings free concerts to people all around Chicago. We also plan to do a premier recording of all our Chicago Stories.

We need your support to bring these stories to people across Chicago and the world.


your support = free music FOR others

We believe that music at its best builds community. It’s a gift we share. Your support is your gift to us. It’s only right that we share that gift with the people you care about.

When you support our campaign, not only will you receive a copy of the album, but we’ll donate albums to a community, family, or individual of your choice. No questions asked.

For every $100 (individual) or $250 (business) you give, you can tell us where to send a gift album. The more you give, the more people benefit for your gift.

A children’s ward at your local hospital? Your niece’s junior high school choir? Your local community center? We’ll make that happen. (Up to 40 individuals in a community, or more on a case-by-case basis).

If you don’t have any community in mind, we’ll make a donation on your behalf to a school, community group, or organization in the community where you live and let them know it came from you.

The BBE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.


Important Work for Chicago

Chicago Stories gives a voice to communities that do not have an equal voice in the world of classical music. It takes us out of ours bubbles and exposes us to new ideas and to people we might not ever meet. It puts a human face to issues that Chicagoans and society face. It makes classical music into community.

Your support means we can tell…

The Story of Iman

We meet Iman in the first movement of Eric Malmquist’s work Two Assyrian Songs. Iman was born and raised in Iraq. She is Assyrian, an ethnic group with ancient roots in the Middle East. Many Assyrians have had to leave their homes because of violence and persecution against their people. We learn how her family was imprisoned and tortured because of their ethnic identity and, urged by her family, she escaped from Iraq in the 1980s. Eventually, she made her way to American where she made her home here in Chicago.

Eric Malmquist interviews Iman for his new work. Eric interviewed members of the Assyrian refugee community for his new work, Two Assyrian Songs.

Anna Steinhoff, Laura Osterlund, Brandi Berry Benson, Thomas Aláan, and Eric Malmquist collaborate on the interpretation of Two Assyrian Songs.

Laura Osterlund and Thomas Aláan perform I. Iman from Two Assyrian Songs. The movement tells the story of Iman as she escaped from Iraq.

Iman, her daughter Ennana, composer Eric Malmquist, and singer Thomas Aláan share a picture after the premier of Iman’s story at the Green Mill.

The Stories To Be Recorded

Your support means we can perform and record the following pieces —

  • Two Assyrian Songs, by Eric Malmquist, telling the stories of two Assyrian refugees who made their home in Rogers Park and Lincolnwood neighborhoods

  • Wild Onion Suite, by Regina Harris Baiocchi, about the Great Migration and African American experience in Bronzeville neighborhood

  • Three Songs, by Amos Gillespie, which honor the Alvarez Brothers and the Latin jazz scene of Pilsen neighborhood, a predominantly Latinx immigrant neighborhood

  • Yes. & Really, by Heidi Joosten, about the experiences of women in color leading organizations in Chicago

  • Swedes in Chicago, by Kurt Westerberg, which follows the journey of Kurt’s grandfather and Swedish minster from Stockholm to Chicago

  • Stories of the Bloomingdale Trail, by Ronnie Kuller, an instrumental work that paints scenes of Chicago’s elevated park found in Humboldt Park and Wicker Park


The BBE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.


Supporting Chicago Artists

Your support means we can continue to provide opportunities for local artists to share these incredible stories. Artists like —


Support the Campaign

To support the campaign, follow the link below.


We welcome support at any level.

  • $25 — your name in the album as a supporter

  • $50 — above + a copy of the album

  • $100 * — above + a community receives the album

* For every $100, you select another community to receive the album. The more you give, the more people benefit from your gift.


The BBE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.