“If you’re not pushing for the new, then your genre never develops,” says Anna Munzesheimer, Fulcrum Point New Music Project‘s Marketing/Outreach Coordinator. “You just end up playing Bach at every concert.”
Since 1998, when Stephen Burns started the groundbreaking ensemble, that ethos has driven Fulcrum Point’s vision of expanding the contemporary classical music scene and its reach through innovative multimedia concerts and an alacrity for new ideas. They aim to lead Chicago in creating and making available all kinds of new music.
“We’re more accepting of things that might take people outside their comfort zone.”
“The classics get played over and over. It’s taking concert music to the next level.”
Back then, there wasn’t much going on with new music when Burns was invited to collaborate with Performing Arts Chicago. Their resulting programs grew into this idea of continuing to find new venues and making space for composers and musicians to keep creating and recording.
In 2004, they launched their first independent season and haven’t looked back.
“I think it’s important to recognize past masters, but you can move forward to new ideas and new experiences,” adds Derek, one of their two interns, a recent graduate from Illinois State University who studied music composition.
Four permanent staff oversee the program, curating content, winning grants and seeking opportunities for collaboration with other Chicago creatives.
Registered as a nonprofit since 2001, Fulcrum Point is also a resident company at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. They’ve performed at a wide range of landmark venues like the Field Museum, the Art Institute and Ravinia Festival among other local mainstays.
And partnering with Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Humanities Festival, Snow City Arts Foundation, Merit School of Music, the National Museum of Mexican Art, and the Cook County Correctional Facility has stimulated boundary-pushing music all over the city.
Munzesheimer came onto the team last year to help communicate all this blossoming creativity to Fulcrum Point’s diverse audiences.
In fact, “educating audiences of all ages to imagine the possibilities of music” constitutes one of their primary goals.
They use the income generated by grants, individual donations from supporters, and ticket sales not only to commission new music, but to hold workshops for new composers to develop their craft.
Sometimes they put a special focus on female composers. Sometimes they collaborate with poets. Most of these efforts are Chicago-based, but not all.
For 2017-18, they have commissioned a new electroacoustic piece of music by acclaimed Mexican composer Javier Álvarez in conjunction with The Centre for Music and the Sonic Arts (CMMAS) in Mexico, as well as Chicago Tech Incubator and Latina Girls Code who will launch a daylong hackathon to explore the technology in his work.
The Discoveries Series is both a concert and a workshop that is free to the public.
Discoveries: Hear and Be Heard epitomizes Fulcrum Point. These dynamic workshops allow emerging composers to showcase their work and their process, while the audience is invited to offer feedback and given a glimpse into music’s inner workings.
Upcoming shows are set to be held this spring and summer.
To learn more about Fulcrum Point New Music Project’s efforts to revitalize classical music in Chicago, see a performance, or join a workshop, visit their website or call them at 312-726-3846.