Currently, the Chicago Arts Initiative (CAI) is focused on a year-long collaboration with Studio Musikfabrik, a national German youth ensemble fostered by Cologne-based Ensemble Musikfabrik. The first phase of this collaboration was a festival of concerts in Chicago in October 2015 (The International Youth New Music Festival). The next phase is an internet collaboration in Summer 2016, followed by a collaborative concert at the International Courses for New Music at Darmstadt in August 2016.
The students of the CAI have collectively composed and performed pieces with the students from Studio MusikFabrik over the course of the last year, and they're raising money for travel funds to perform those pieces with Studio MusikFabrik in Germany.
The making of the CAI has been a long process, but well worth the investment. We are already 3/4 of the way through the collaborative process with students on the other side of the globe. They've come to the US to work with us, and now it's our turn to meet them in Europe!
The CAI as an ensemble began when members of Musikfabrik encouraged now Artistic Director Jesse Langen to start a youth ensemble, which he did. In 2013, the ensemble gave a concert of pieces composed for them by others and pieces that they composed themselves. MusikFabrik's Thomas Oesterdiekhoff flew from rehearsals in New York to see this concert, and subsequently invited us to join the project we're now raising funds for: a youth ensemble collaboration which will culminate at Darmstadt 2016.
What We Need & What You Get
- We are applying for airfare for 8 students to fly to Germany this summer, amounting to about $10,000.
- For your contribution of $25 or more, we'll send you a digital download of our performance recordings with Studio MusikFabrik!
- For your contribution of $50 or more, we'll send you the above-mentioned recording along with a signed score of one of our collaboratively-composed pieces!
What we've learned so far:
- We've learned that our strengths as an American youth new music ensemble, full of American kids, who can play, compose, improvise, and are encouraged by parents and schools to do everything with a disregard for specialization, we work a bit like a rock band, where everyone does everything, and they do it together. Our German collaborators, on the other hand, approach music from a culture of specialization and perform pieces by adult composers, written for them, at an extremely high level, with intense precision.
- We've learned in or initial meetings with Studio MusikFabrik that youth ensembles can and should be healthy and synergistic expressions of their respective cultures and educational values.
- This process of intercultural exchange and music-making is educationally invaluable.
Risks & Challenges
The biggest challenge for us as an ensemble is in the realm of sustainability, both within the ensemble and in the education and music environment. Within the ensemble, sustainability will be a constant challenge because our group is comprised mostly of high school students, who tend to graduate and leave the area.
- In the education and music communities, the challenges are 1) that there isn't anything like what we're doing in our region, so it doesn't fit into any preexisting framework. 2) Education efforts in the arts are often the last to be taken seriously, so it can be difficult to get the youth ensemble members the kind of opportunities they need and deserve
- We understand both the musical and educational environments well, and we are already identifying and reaching out to promising contacts, in Chicago and nationally, to ensure that 1) the CAI has continuity of recruitment, that 2) other strong and creative music education programs with the potential for new music efforts see what we're doing, and that 3) visionary promoters understand what our students can offer them.
Other Ways You Can Help
Can't contribute? We'll accept free marketing!
- Help us get the word out and make some noise about Sound Send-Off!
- Tag us on Facebook, or share with your community!
- Or perhaps you know people in Darmstadt you'd like us to meet! Connect us!