Frequency Festival Coming to Constellation Chicago

Source: Constellation Chicago.

Bill Nace & Haley Fohr / Lia Kohl & Macie Stewart
Tuesday: 8:30 PM February 22, 2022 – Constellation

Philadelphia’s Bill Nace (Body/Head) and Chicago’s Haley Fohr (Circuit des Yeux) are two of the most dynamic and distinctive voices in experimental and rock music today. The former has carved out a sui generis strain of guitar that channels noise into a limitless array of possibilities, from pin-drop quietude to a tsunami roar. Haley Fohr is best-known for stunning art-pop project Circuit des Yeux in which her force-of-nature voice is meticulously situated within ever-shifting arrangements that collide post-Nico wanderlust with orchestral grandeur.

Lia Kohl and Macie Stewart are a Chicago-based duo creating freely improvised music that explores rich harmonies, timbres, and textures. Starting from the quartet of their two voices, cello, and violin, the duo’s varied sound centers curiosity and an uncanny receptivity to each other.

Matchess / Jeff Kimmel & Ryan Packard
Wednesday: 8:30 PM February 23, 2022 – Constellation

Sonescent was conceived during a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation in Joshua Tree where Whitney Johnson (Matchess) perceived sound and music in the body, psyche, and beyond. A band comprised of Haley Fohr, Tim Kinsella, Brian J. Sulpizio, Rob Frye, and Kalina Malyszko performed these scores, and the resulting compositions are represented here tonight.

Clarinetist Jeff Kimmel and percussionist Ryan Packard are long-time collaborators who have worked together in many settings, including Packard’s chamber piece For Lying Down and Breathing (released on the Amalgam label in 2020), numerous ad hoc improvisation groupings, as well as performances with experimental music ensemble a.pe.ri.od.ic.

Hanna Hartman
Thursday: 8 PM February 24, 2022 – Renaissance Society
(5811 South Ellis Avenue, Cobb Hall, 4th Floor)

Hanna Hartman is a Swedish composer, sound artist and performer living in Berlin. She has composed works for radio, electroacoustic music, ensembles, sound installations and given numerous performances all over the world. Hartman is a meticulous weaver of sound, and according to an informative Philip Clark feature in the Wire this in 2019 she’s been recording and amassing a huge catalog of hyper-specific recordings going back decades. While it’s fascinating to learn where some of the sounds come from—in the Wire piece she describes rolling a ball in potato starch, noting that you need “exactly the right weight, and you must also have a lot of potato starch,” to say nothing of an excellent contact microphone—that’s hardly necessary to be knocked out by these worlds she creates.

Susan Alcorn / Jordan Dykstra
Friday: 8:30 PM February 25, 2022 – Constellation

One of the world’s premiere exponents of her instrument, Susan Alcorn has taken the pedal steel guitar far beyond its traditional role in country music. Having first paid her dues in Texas country & western bands, she began to expand the vocabulary of her instrument through her study of 20th century classical music, visionary jazz, and world musics.

In Better Shape Than You Found Me is a one-hour piece jointly composed by Jordan Dykstra and Koen Nutters in the year 2020. The two bring together their sounds and structures in very organic ways, merging into a single, intriguing sound world. This concert is the US premiere of the work, and will be performed by cellist Lia Kohl, percussionist Ryan Packard, pianist Jonathan Hannau, and Dykstra.

Tomeka Reid, Sam Bardfeld, Curtis Stewart & Stephanie Griffin playing the music of Julius Hemphiill / Krista Franklin, Ben LaMar Gay, Sam Scranton & Katherine Young
Saturday: 8:30 PM February 26, 2022 – Constellation

In late 2020 New World Records released The Boyé Multi-National Crusade for Harmony, a stunning boxset of previously unissued music by the singular St. Louis reedist, composer, and improviser Julius Hemphill. Among the treasures was a recording of Mingus Gold, for which he created dazzling string quartet arrangements for three of Charles Mingus’ most beloved tunes. Chicago cellist Tomeka Reid has assembled a superb string quartet with violinists Sam Bardfeld and Curtis Stewart and violist Stephanie Griffin to perform that rarely heard piece—its Chicago premiere—along with a selection of other Hemphill transcriptions for string quartet.

Krista Franklin, Ben LaMar Gay, Sam Scranton and Katherine Young—four artists who work between and across media, histories, genres, and practices—perform a set of improvised music. The four jammed over Zoom about play, intensity, noise, early morning rituals, trust, and other things connected to music and collaborative arts. By the end of the hang, there was a feeling in the air and across the ether that something special had happened and that more would be fun. As Ben said at one point in the conversation, “We all create music without our instruments. You know, the music happens way before we touch our instruments.”

Ensemble Dal Niente
Sunday: 8:30 PM February 27, 2022 – Constellation

Ensemble Dal Niente closes the 2022 Frequency Festival with a program centered around Garden of Earthly Desire, Liza Lim’s sensual, labyrinthine chamber work for 11 musicians that made a name for the composer when it was first performed in 1989. The program opens with Murat Çolak’s hypnotic Nefes.Pas.Cira.Isi for piccolo, percussion, and sin wave, and closes with the brand-new musical branchings of Linda Catlin Smith’s chamber work New Vine.