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gathering | streams

Saturday April 27, 2024 - 7:30pm
St James Cathedral

65 E Huron St | Chicago


The 2023-2024 season is sponsored by the Katherine L. Griem and Anthony G. Montag Charitable Fund in memory of Anthony Montag.


Tyler Taylor

Out of Dust (world premiere)

"Out of Dust" is an exploration of how memories can transform as they cycle back and forth between the conscious and subconscious mind. Oftentimes, I find myself struggling to decipher whether the feeling of a memory is the authentic original, or if it is a version influenced by my current state of mind. I like to think that the music of this piece undergoes similar transformations – maintaining integral aspects while the surrounding context is greatly altered. Is it familiar at this point, something new, or perhaps a sense of déjà vu?



Fernanda Aoki Navarro

Sisyphus (world premiere)

One possible interpretation of the myth of Sisyphus is that death is avoided by filling up life with endless, meaningless, repetitive tasks. Another potential interpretation is that those in power can impose rules that are harder than death. Or that even dying has a steep price for those disempowered. Or that those disempowered don’t own their lives nor their deaths.


Starting a new piece, to me, is a way to attempt to access a tiny window of time in the future, while being entrenched, trapped, blinded, by the present. The present to me, seems bleak: yes, there are birds, beautiful mountains, colors, some kindness, some hope, some beautiful actions, but ultimately, we have a parasitic relationship with nature (and often with one another), which will disproportionately harm those who are disempowered. But we keep going. In the same way. Day after day, sisyphean motion.


Another component of writing this piece is my problematic relationship with the concept of an orchestra. Writing music for orchestra is a conflicting task for me: I tend to associate orchestras with eurocentrism, music for the aristocracy, obedience and homogeneity; "like-sounded” instruments doing their best to conform into a homogeneous, tamed discourse. Sounds that deviate from the norm are othered as “exotic”, “strange”, “animalesque”, ”unpleasant”. Other than that, orchestras are expensive, rehearsals are few, and successful orchestral composers tend to make aesthetic decisions that show servitude to the frail musical taste of most orchestral patrons. Not to mention that the vast majority of orchestral music performed by well-funded orchestras are composed by dead white men from Europe, perpetuating the idea that women don’t belong to the creation of orchestral music. That said, I’m grateful to the Chicago Composers Orchestra for commissioning me this piece, for championing music that defies the status-quo, for their openness and for taking the risk of performing this piece, despite the lack of cozy moments for the audience. 


Considering this background, Sisyphus seemed to be the appropriate muse. The lower strings convey the attempt to ascend, while the percussion, indifferent to the effort, continues its horizontal line impassively, as time does. The economy in the sound palette is intentional – bleak, dry, rock. There are moments of temporary arrivals, hopeful oasis, resting stops that vanish or crumble. Towards the end, rather than the upward effort collapsing into a downward motion, both rising and falling gestures happen simultaneously, finishing the piece in both limbo and oasis.


Brief Pause



Mari Takano | Sarah Plum & Michi Sugiura, violin

Doppelconcerto for 2 Violins & Orchestra (world premiere)

The music draws from many influences, Western as well as Eastern music, very much in analogy to city life in Tokyo with its juxtaposition and mixing of different cultural worlds. The beginning, for example, is inspired by the third movement of my teacher György Ligeti's Hamburg Concerto.


Like the canon in the Hamburg concerto, the music begins with a group of sparkling sounds, like flashes of light, from high-pitched instruments such as Piccolo, high percussion instruments, harp, and violin in the upper register and so on, descending slowly

In the middle section, I was influenced by ensemble performances of koto, a Japanese musical instrument. The ensemble creates layers of sound by "tracing'' many melodies, in a manner that is quite different from the polyphonic feel of Western music.


After the cadence, the music builds up and seems to be coming to an end, but suddenly the two solo violinists, accompanied by only a few instruments, break out of the orchestra.

This part was inspired by the video “Never Catch Me!” by Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus. In this video, two children get up from a church coffin, do a snappy dance, and finally jump into a car and drive away. To me, it seemed like they were moving towards a new world.


Although my work is grounded in contemporary "serious" music, my influences are not confined to it. However, my music is by no means a collage; since the influences are "incorporated" within me, and something new is born from there.


I composed this piece in 2019 before the Covid pandemic started and I am very happy that the piece is now performed, five years later. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the musicians, conductors, and everyone involved, especially Sarah Plum, who commissioned this work and is also the first soloist.


About the Soloists:

Praised as “both an intrepid new music champion and a violin virtuoso” (textura music magazine), Sarah Plum has had a prolific career advocating for new music, commissioning composers and bringing contemporary music to a wider audience. Personal Noise, Plum’s recent CD release of new music for violin and electronics, has been lauded as “a fantastic new release - a must have for everyone who loves meaningful sonic adventures” (Whole Note Magazine).


Plum has been featured at festivals and venues worldwide, including Ankunft:Neue Musik Berlin, Center for New Music San Francisco, Spectrum NYC,  Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics as well as at residencies at the Mannheim University for Music and Performing Arts in Mannheim Germany,  UC Davis, Duke, Cal State Fullerton and James Madison University among others.


Recent concerts include solo recitals at the University of Iowa, Oakland University, Frequency Series in Chicago,  Ear Taxi, SEAMUS, Chimefest at the University of Chicago, NYC Electroacoustic Music Festival and chamber music performances with the Fulcrum Point Ensemble, Zodiac Festival Ensemble in France and at the University of Oklahoma’s String Academy. 


Sarah Plum moved to Chicago in 2018 and since then has been active in local new music, playing with groups such as Dal Niente Ensemble, Fulcrum Point Ensemble and Access Contemporary Music as well as collaborations with numerous Chicago composers and performers. She is on the faculty at the Music Institute of Chicago, Lake Forest College and Michigan State University. 


Her gold medal at the International Stulberg Competition in 1983 launched her performance career. 


Born in Washington D.C., Michi Sugiura was invited to attend the Curtis Institute of Music by renowned pedagogue Ivan Galamian. Upon graduation, she continued her studies at the Indiana University of Music. Starting with the tutelage of Berl Senofsky, her teachers include Ivan Galamian, Arnold Steinhardt (Guarneri Quartet), Yumi Ninomiya Scott, Miriam Fried, Franco Gulli, and Toshiya Eto.


Ms. Sugiura has received prizes at the Queen Elisabeth (Belgium), Menuhin (UK), Carl Flesch (UK), Montreal (Canada), and Japan International Violin Competitions. Awards at national competitions led to performances with orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Other engagements have included concerts with the BRT (Belgian Radio-Television) Philharmonic Orchestra, Knoxville Chamber Orchestra, Filharmonie Bohuslava Martinu (Czech Republic), Gunma Symphony Orchestra (Japan), and recitals in Tokyo, Washington, and Brussels. She has been heard on RTBF (Radio-Television belge de la Communaute francaise - Brussels), NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation -- national), and WMFT (Chicago) radio recitals. As part of the “Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music” at the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, Ms. Sugiura performed the Corigliano Sonata with composer John Corigliano present. While residing in Indiana, Ms. Sugiura joined the Whitney Piano Trio. Their concerts included performances on the Phillips Collection and the National Gallery of Art Concert Series in Washington D.C., both of which were heard on radio broadcasts. The piano trio received government grants for an educational/concert series serving schools and communities in the Indiana and Kentucky area.


Interested in teaching, Michi Sugiura was a Visiting Associate Professor at the Indiana University of Music. She has performed and given masterclasses in Batumi, Georgia, at the Batumi Music Festival subsidized by the Ministry of Culture of Georgia. She currently resides in Tokyo, Japan, where she teaches and serves on the jury of competitions, including the national Student Music Concours of Japan.


About CCO

The Chicago Composers Orchestra presents music by living composers, extending the orchestral tradition to be open and vibrant, to speak to contemporary live and bring diverse people together.

We envision the orchestra as a powerful vehicle for contemporary music, filled with energy and purpose for composers, performers, listeners, and their communities.




Conductor, Music Director

Allen Tinkham


Violin 1

Hannah Spear* concertmaster

Rebecca Faber

Dan Galat

Raquel Gonzalez

Violin 2   

Katie Klocke*

Tony Krempa

MK Guthrie



Christina Karakos*

Raven Huang

Traci Huff

Noah Jenkins



Meghan Lyda*

Roxanne Fritton


James Hall


Lesley Swanson (piccolo)


Becca Dora



Alessandro Tenorio-Bucci (bass clarinet)


Nyketa Marshall


Stephanie Diebel


Shane Courville


Colin Marusek


Akshat Jain


Sarah Christianson


Lauren Hayes

*denotes principal




Thanks to you, we are able to bring orchestral music by living composers to the Chicago community. The CCO is a non-profit 501(c)3 charitable organization. Support the CCO with a tax deductible on our website.. 


The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE)

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

National Endowment for the Arts

New Music Inc.

The Paul M. Angell Family Foundation




The Cliff Dwellers Arts Foundation

Aaron Copland Fund for Music

The Alice M. Ditson Fund

The Katherine L. Griem and Anthony G. Montag Charitable Fund

Kathleen Guarna

Brandon Harrington

Illinois Arts Council Agency

Rachel Manigault

The Saints

Jayne Swanson



Bruce Oltman




Stephen Anderson

Seth Boustead

Linda Branscome

Cynthia Cheski

Deb DeVoe

Jessica Duffy

  In honor of Lesley Swanson

Geoffrey Fichtl

Kelsey Hanson

Paul Johnson

Wayne Kumingo and Michael LaFauce

Gustavo Leone

Daniel Lory

Geoffrey F. Lory

Josette Lory

Paul Marusek

Gerald Rizzer

Aaron Rodgers

Scott Scharf and Dalia Chin

Eva Sullivan and Layla Doss

Becki and Debu Tripathy

Nicole West



Anonymous (3)

Friends of CCO

Linda Berna

Matthew Corso

Richard Harrington

Christine and Glenn Hayes

Amanda Kim

Ken Leng

Kelly Quesada

Gerald M. Rizzer



Benjamin Babbitt

Aleksandra Ciric

Patrick Cummings

Hans DeKok

Dan Galat

Paul Giallorenzo

Emily Hartung

Billie Howard

Chris Huff

Ilya Levinson

Dr. James Orr

Kelsey Wooley

Amy Wurtz


Board of Directors

Brandon Harrington, President

Kate Guarna, Secretary

Paul Johnson


Lesley Swanson, Executive Director

Randall West, Artistic Director

Jonathan Hannau, Artistic Associate

Allen Tinkham, Music Director

Erica Bittner, Development Director


Interested in sponsoring your favorite section, an upcoming concert, or CCO’s season? Contact for details.





Interested in getting involved with CCO? We would love for you to join us whether as a composer, performer, volunteer or board member, you name it! Email us at


Supporting Organizations

We thank these organizations for their generous support:


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