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Chicago Stories:
The Concert


From the Directors

Dear BBE Family,

Thank you for joining us for Chicago Stories: The Concert.

Over the last two years, we’ve asked six composers to take a nine month journey with us to explore Chicagoans, neighborhoods, and communities and to write new music based on those experiences. Then working with BBE musicians, they refine those works to learn how to write for period (or “early” or “Baroque”) instruments.

Today, we’re thrilled to present the works of all six composers, and to highlight the stories and experiences of the 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 of special places full of memory.

It’s been our privileged to know and collaborate with Regina, Amos, Heidi, Ronnie, Eric, and Kurt — all extraordinary composers — and to perform alongside Bill, Alexandra, Patrick, Felicia, David, Kate, Matthew, Michael, and Paul. On behalf of them and the BBE, we welcome you to Chicago Stories: the Concert. Thank you for making us a part of your 'Chicago Story’ today, and we hope you’ll be as moved by these stories as we.

If you like what you hear today, you can join us throughout the year for annual and special projects, including our summer Folk but Baroque series and our holiday Carols program. Be sure to check out our newly released albums, A Gaelic Summer and An Appalachian Summer, and lookout for our upcoming album release for Chicago Stories, featuring all the music you hear today.

- Brandi, Thomas, and Leighann for The BBE




Stories of the Bloomingdale Trail (2018)

for traverso, alto recorder, cornetto, viola da gamba, and Baroque violin

by Ronnie Kuller - (bio)

  1. bloomingdale prelude

  2. bloomingdale tango

  3. bicycle waltz

  4. bloomingdale procession

  5. bloomingdale andante


Three Songs (2017)

based on selected poems from “The Wailing Wall” by R. Castellanos

for soprano, countertenor, Baroque violin, viola da gamba, and harpsichord

by Amos Gillespie - (bio)

  1. Soledad

  2. Como el mar ahogada

  3. La noche Caerá

Translations of Spanish Text

  1. I am a child of my own making.
    I was born from my dream. My dream sustains me.
    Alone, alone.

    Don’t go looking for my springs anywhere but in my own blood.
    And don’t try to follow a river upstream back to my beginning.
    Alone, alone.

    In my family there is only one thing.
    There is but one word, the word is:

  2. Thirsty as the sea and as the sea, drowned.
    Of deep salt water, of deep salt water.
    I come from the abyss to my lips
    that are like the tentative attempt of a beach,
    Like sand betrayed, like sand betrayed,
    Crying for the flight of the waves.
    Crying for the flight of the waves.

    My sea is of white scarves
    of desolate springs and the shipwrecked.
    Of deep salt water, of deep salt water.
    My beach is a snail that moans
    because of the furious wind on its walls.
    Thirsty as the sea and as the sea, drowned.
    Like sand betrayed, like sand betrayed,
    Crying for the flight of the waves.
    Crying for the flight of the waves.

  3. My passage will finish sooner than space.
    Night will fall before my toil will end.
    Wild animals will surround me in a maddened patrol,
    my voices will be trimmed by sharpened knives,
    the fetters which subdue fright will be smashed.
    My enemy will not prevail against me
    if I sing my song and dance my dance.


Swedes in Chicago (2018)

for alto recorder, Baroque violin, viola da gamba, and harpsichord

by Kurt Westerberg - (bio)

Translations of Swedish Text

  1. My forefathers were also sailors, or a combination of sailors and farmers. Many in my childhood sailed the great seas during the summer seasons and spent the winters at home. Others would head out on ships that would go to the uttermost parts of the earth and would not come back to the homeland for three or four years. But sailing was a hard an perilous life. So many lost their lives and were never heard from.

  2. We could not only hear the moaning of the sea and the sound of the waves as they broke against the rocky coast but the window-panes in my home became covered with a thin layer of salt during very stormy days. Someone said that this stormy coast made the people strong and sturdy, but also energetic and seriously minded.

  3. In company with my oldest brother and other friends, we left Göteborg, Sweden on the 18th day of May, 1894. It was far from pleasant to leave and bid farewell to near ones and friends, and that experience on the dock I can never erase from my mind. On that dock there have been many welcomes also, but by far not as many as farewells.

  4. To be an immigrant, landing in a big city like Chicago is a great experience even if it is not always pleasant. You begin to realize that you are in a strange land among strange people who speak a strange language. You sometimes feel as though you’re a shipwrecked sailor on a bleak shore.

  5. After working on the harvest, I got work at a brick yard in DeKalb. That was the hardest work I have done in all my life. I had to dig in a deep clay pit without any shelter from the hot sun.

  6. With many others I boarded the train for Chicago late in the evening, and the car in which I rode were what I would say were two classes of people. In the one end of the car was a crowd of picnickers who had sang their worldly songs and carried on a disgraceful conversation. On the other end was a group of young people who, like myself, had boarded the train at the campgrounds. They sang religious songs and praised God.

  7. Arriving back in Chicago, we found that the church had changed from Swedish to bilingual, which was for me was a new experience. Morning services and mid-week prayer meetings were still in Swedish but all others were conducted in English. I found it difficult to break into a new language at my age of forty-nine. But I could give the people my best sermons in Swedish Sunday mornings, and I did so. The response to my Swedish preaching in Austin was very good, the best I have had in any church I served. I gave the Bible in sermons and lectures, and it was much appreciated.


Reach (2017)

for harpsichord, viola da gamba, Baroque violin, and traverso

Yes. (2017)

for soprano, traverso, cornetto, Baroque violin, viola da gamba, sackbut, and harpsichord

by Heidi Joosten - (bio)


Two Assyrian Songs (2017)

for countertenor, recorder, Baroque violin, and viola da gamba

by Eric Malmquist - (bio)

  1. Iman

  2. Ninos

Translation of Assyrian Text

2.You who died with a flower in your hand,
it will light up and spread like a spark.
You who were born with shackles on your hands,
your shackles will give you freedom and good news.

The bells rang, our land was liberated,
the dream of warriors came true.
The stars above twinkled like a diamond,
the darkness of our eyes lifted.

They won’t kill our land,
it will become a grave for terrorists and radicals.
Our history says the people will rise
and become a fence for our land’s border.

In the new land there will be no blood or killing,
no governor to rule with fire and iron.
There will be kindness, freedom of speech,
equal rights and fraternity will be achieved.

In the new land there will be no blood or killing,
no governor to rule with fire and iron.
There will be kindness, freedom of speech,
equal rights and fraternity will be achieved.

(“Rebirth” by Ninos Nirari)


Wild Onion Suite (2018)

for voice, harmonica, sackbut, harpsichord, Baroque violin, traverso, and percussion

by Regina Harris Baiocchi - (bio)

  1. Bronzeville Blues

  2. Mother gives me water 

  3. Capriccio 

  4. Wash-belly Baby

  5. Lifting as they climb



Click on an image to read the performer’s bio.



Thanks to Night Out in the Parks for sponsoring our Loyola Park and Armour Square Parks performances.

Thanks to the staff at Armour Square Park and Chopin Park staff for hosting us.

Thanks to our BBE Family for supporting both the performances and upcoming album recording!