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Chicago Stories: Book Two


Director Notes

Dear BBE Family,

Thank you for joining us for Chicago Stories: Book Two. After our inaugural Chicago Stories performance last year, this project has become one of our favorite projects.

If you’re new to Chicago Stories, this is how it works. In January 2018, we commissioned three composers - Regina Harris Baiocchi, Ronnie Kuller, and Kurt Westerberg - to write music inspired by three different Chicago communities. These three performances - Loyola Park, Armour Square Park, and the Den Theatre - are a culmination of a nine-month exploration of the bluesy Bronzeville community, the charming atmosphere of the Bloomingdale Trail, and the Swedes' home away from home in Andersonville. This second installment of the Chicago Stories series has been an incredibly profound experience for us, rich in stories and Chicago history, told in a way that no tour guide can. We hope you will be as moved by the stories set to music as we are, and we thank you for making us a part of your Chicago story today and beyond.

Join us throughout the year for one of our other annual projects - like our summer Folk But Baroque and winter Carols programs - and join us again in 2019 as we explore the many hidden gems in this city in Chicago Stories: Book Three.

Warmest wishes,

Brandi + Thomas




Stories of the Bloomingdale Trail

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


Swedes in Chicago

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.


Wild Onion Suite

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 our in the Parks for sponsoring our Loyola Park and Armour Square Parks performances.

Thanks to the Loyola Park (Francis Clark, supervisor), Armour Park (Fina Arredia, supervisor) staff, and The Den Theatre for hosting us.

Thanks to Raising Cane’s for sponsoring our special park raffle.

Thanks to our promotional partners: Chicago Swedish Museum, Chicago Sinfonietta, Third Coast Baroque, and Gaudete Brass.

Thanks to 3Arts and our 3Arts 3AP donors for helping us make Chicago Stories possible!


3Arts 3AP Donors

Maria Mora
Terrence Miles
Leighann Daihl Ragusa
Michael and Christina Drouet
Laury Libin
Valerie Glowinski
Amy Funk

Michael Miles
Jill Tuinier
Ann Chen
Harold Barnett
Esther Grimm
Sheila Forsyth
Linda Rosencranz
Lam Ho