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A & E

Fifth House Ensemble to presents ‘Americana’ at NIU

Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble will showcase contemporary piano trios during a performance Nov. 7 at Northern Illinois University.
Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble will showcase contemporary piano trios during a performance Nov. 7 at Northern Illinois University.

DeKALB – Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble will showcase contemporary piano trios by Stacy Garrop, Dan Visconti, Donald Crockett and Paul Schoenfield during a performance at Northern Illinois University.

Hear each composer’s unique aural landscape, rich with inspirations of film noir, jazz, pop and folk songs, and explore how these American composers have captured the diverse musical world of the music of our time.

The program for piano, violin and cello will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Recital Hall of the NIU Music Building. Tickets cost $5 for adults and $3 for students and are available at https://www.niu.edu/music.

Chicago composer Garrop’s “Silver Dagger” opens the concert. The piece is based on the Appalachian folk song of the same name. While researching the song’s history, Garrop found dozens of variants revolving around the same “Romeo and Juliet” premise, with different endings. Garrop’s “Silver Dagger” incorporates three of the most prominent examples and weaves them into a compelling new work.

Visconti’s “Lonesome Roads” was inspired by memories of long, cross country car trips and the rumbling, uneven grooves that underscore a constantly shifting landscape. Beginning from the faintest murmurs, the music evokes a vast space that can be alternately lonely, hypnotic or hard-driving and rhythmic.

Crockett’s piano trio, “Night Scenes,” in his own words, is “meant to evoke scenes from imaginary movies or very possibly scenes of the moviegoers themselves” in the context of American cinema. Each of the four movements portrays a different set of characters invoked through a panoply of rhythmic grooves and melodic styles.

In the words of Schoenfield: “The idea to compose ‘Café Music’ first came to me in 1985 after sitting in one night for the pianist at Murray’s Restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Murray’s employs a house trio that plays entertaining dinner music in a wide variety of styles. My intention was to write a kind of high-class dinner music – music which could be played at a restaurant, but might also [just barely] find its way into a concert hall.”

In addition to Fifth House Ensemble’s work on the concert stage, the group reaches 17,000 students annually through its arts-integrated programming, and trains emerging artists nationwide as a curriculum design partner for higher education institutions and through its summer festival, Fresh Inc.

For information, visit www.fifth-house.com.

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