Pittsburgh has more going on in new music, and the arts in general, than you would expect for its size (around 300,000 people in the city, and 2.4 million in the metro area). This is due in part to a high density of universities with good music programs, but new music events aren’t confined to the academic year. When summer comes and many cities offer little in the way of classical music besides orchestral pops, Pittsburgh has more modern sounds than you can shake a 4th of July sparkler at.
The 2015 CMA/ASCAP Awards, the “New Music from CMA” commissions’ concert, and the majority of the ensemble showcases at the 37th national conference of Chamber Music America provided a real immersive new music experience—one in which definitions were constantly being expanded and which celebrated diversity and inclusivity.
It was Open House Chicago this weekend. Open House is, apparently, a worldwide celebratory architectural free-for-all phenomenon that started in London. But I’ve only ever experienced it in Chicago. Here, it usually falls in late October, when each rainstorm is a tender rite of passage that strips the city of a bit more color.
I asked my friend and colleague Andrew Tham to join me in attempting to create a new kind of concert review: one that embraced, rather than attempted to deny, our subjectivity; one that could be a bit rough around the edges. What follows is the story of our experience of the Chicago Wandelweiser Festival.