Friday, January 13, 2017

Inclusion in Contemporary Classical Music Showcased by Fulcrum Point New Music Project, February 9-10; 2nd Annual "The Black Composer Speaks"

(Elliot Mandel Photography)

Tomeka Reid

2nd Annual The Black Composer Speaks Celebrates Must-Hear African American Composers, Featuring a New Work by Composer Tomeka Reid and Performance from Jazz Innovator Kahil El’Zabar & his Ethnic Heritage Ensemble

Tickets on Sale Now for Chicago and Champaign, IL

CHICAGO (January 11, 2016) – Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Chicago’s leader in new art music led by Founder and Artistic Director Stephen Burns, presents its 2nd annual The Black Composer Speaks concert and discussion series Thursday-Friday, February 9-10, 2017. The Black Composer Speaks champions the unique and complex voices of African American composers, featuring music by three generations of artists whose works range from impressionistic to pop-inspired minimalism culminating in free jazz improv with Kahil El’Zabar’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble. Bridging these diverse musical stylings is a World Premiere by the widely acclaimed Tomeka Reid (2016 3Arts Awardee). A roundtable discussion on inclusion and access in new art music precedes the February 10 concert.

Fulcrum Point New Music Project’s The Black Composer Speaks: Exhortation! opens at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (500 S Goodwin Ave., Urbana) on Thursday, February 9 at 7:30 p.m. Single tickets at Krannert Center range from $10-$34 and are now available at On Friday, February 10 at The Promontory (5311 S Lake Park Ave., Chicago) a roundtable discussion will start at 5:45 p.m. followed by the performance at 7:30 p.m. Single tickets for The Promontory are priced at $25-$35 and are now available at

The “fulcrum point” of each evening is a new work Fulcrum Point New Music Project commissioned from Chicago-based Tomeka Reid, whose music is influenced by both classical and jazz music while including her love of groove and free concepts. She composes for a wide range of instrumentation, from big band to chamber ensemble, while typically finding herself performing in experimental and improvisatory settings. Reid was Chicago Tribune’s 2015 Chicagoan of the Year in Jazz and is currently an ABD doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
The dynamics of Reid’s World Premiere compliments the concert program’s more traditionally-structured works by Guggenheim Fellows Alvin Singleton and Jeffrey Mumford; a funk-inspired piece by violinist/composer Jessie Montgomery (PUBLIQuartet Co-Founder); and an abstract, expressionist piano trio by jazz and orchestral musician (and Guggenheim Fellow) Olly Wilson. Each evening will conclude with an improvisational set in the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) style by Kahil El’Zabar and the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble.

Preceding the February 10 concert at The Promontory, Steve Bynum, producer of WBEZ’s “Worldview” will lead a panel discussion: The Convergence of Experimental Musical Mediums: A Roundtable Discussion on inclusion, access, and aesthetics in music from the Black Diaspora. The conversation will address inclusion, convergence of avant-garde and contemporary musical expression and the artistic diaspora within the context of new music and art with panelists Stephen Burns, Fulcrum Point's Artistic Director; Seth Parker Woods, Fulcrum Point’s Curator of Inclusion and Discoveries; Nathalie Joachim, flutist with Eighth Blackbird; Tomeka Reid, composer/cellist/scholar; and Sadie Woods, curator, DJ, Entrepreneur.

Concert Program:     Tomeka Reid’s “Present Awareness” – World Premiere
Jessie Montgomery’s “Strum
Jeffrey Mumford’s “still air
Alvin Singleton’s “In Our Own House” (2/9) & “Greed Machine” (2/10)
                        Olly Wilson’s “Piano Trio”
                        Kahil El' Zabar and the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble:
·         Kahil El'Zabar, percussion/composition/vocals
·         Corey Wilkes, trumpet
·         Alex Harding, baritone saxophone

As a composer, Tomeka Reid has been commissioned by the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble and has had several opportunities to showcase her work abroad at festivals such as Umbria Jazz, An Insolent Noise and Vignola Jazz. She has been nominated and awarded residencies for composition with the Ragdale Foundation and the 2nd Annual Make Jazz Fellowship hosted by the 18th Street Arts Organization. Reid was selected as a 2012 participant in the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute held at UCLA, was featured as Chicago Tribune’s 2015 Chicagoan of the Year in Jazz and is a 2016 3Arts Award recipient.
More information on Tomeka Reid may be found at

Kahil El’Zabar is an international percussion master who has collaborated with Jazz legends Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Cannonball Adderley, and recipients of this year’s NEA Jazz Masters award, Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp. His illustrious career has included film scores for the movies “Mo’ Money” and “How U Like Me Now,” as well as early arrangements for Broadway show “The Lion King.” In 2014 El’Zabar was a recipient of the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres from the French government.

More information on Kahil El’Zabar may be found at

Created in 1998 by conductor, composer and trumpet virtuoso Stephen Burns, the mission of Fulcrum Point New Music Project is to be a Chicago leader of diverse new music by presenting multi-media performances, generating educational programs, as well as commissioning and recording innovative works. Its programs are inspired and influenced by popular culture, including literature, film, dance, folk, rock, jazz, blues, Latin and world music. Through multi-disciplinary concert performances and educational programs, Fulcrum Point seeks to encourage audiences to make cross-cultural connections between new music, art, technology and literature, gaining greater insight into today’s diverse world.

For more information on Fulcrum Point New Music Project and its programs, visit

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