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Unfathomable Sadness, Juvenile Delinquency, Craigslist

By Alexander Hough in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 5, 2009 4:40PM

Photo by Doyle Armbrust
Local ensemble Anaphora has put together another can't-miss mix of new music by local and big name contemporary composers for the final concert of this season's Contemporary Series.

Sunday's concert at the Green Mill features three Chicago-based composers who know each other from their studies at Roosevelt University. Anaphora will perform Rich Ortiz's string quartet "Persistence in the Face of Adversity" and will premiere the violin duet "86 Violins" by Sarah Ritch, the group's co-founder and curator.

The third piece by a Roosevelt alum, Sam Krahn's work for clarinet, viola, piano, and voice, is entitled "Missed Connections," and for exactly the reason you're hoping it is: the title and text of the song cycle come from the delightfully entertaining (and rarely useful) Craigslist section of the same name. Soprano Caitlin McKechney will play the part of the horny public transportation user.

Music by more established composers include Osvaldo Golijov's "Yiddishbbuk," an earlier work by the darling of the new music world. Golijov said the inspiration for the string quartet was the final line from a series of apocryphal psalms that Franz Kafka included in a letter to his lover, Milena Jesenská: "No one sings as purely as those who are in the deepest hell. Theirs is the song which we confused with that of the angels." That's an intense statement. Except, at it turns out, Golijov, because he's a smart ass as well as a brilliant composer, made the quotation up.

Anyhow, the origins of the line are less important than the emotional thrust, which underlies the first movement commemorating three children who died at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. The other two movements concentrate on the happier side of Golijov's Jewish heritage: the Yiddish stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer and Leonard Bernstein's (Jewish) relentless advocacy of the music of Gustav Mahler (Catholic/originally Jewish).

The music of Jacob TV, another "in" composer, although one whose popularity is more recent, will also be featured on the concert. "Grab It!", one of his wildly entertaining boombox pieces, is written for live tenor saxophone and a recording of music and excerpts from the frightfully entertaining (and very useful) documentary "Scared Straight!"

This is the final concert of Anaphora's first full season, and in that brief time they've shown an innovative ear for programming that has landed them among the leaders of the Chicago new music scene. The chances to catch them over the summer will be few and far between, so grab a cheap $5 ticket while you can.

Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, Sunday, June 7, 2 p.m., $5, 21 and older