Best Forward-Looking New-Music Group

Ensemble dal Niente

Critics' Picks

Chicago has produced a wealth of adventurous, technically excellent contemporary-classical ensembles in recent years, but for my money nobody pushes the envelope as fearlessly and relentlessly as Ensemble dal Niente, a large, adaptable collective whose organization follows the model of the International Contemporary Ensemble. In February it presented the Chicago debut of the Georg Friedrich Haas masterpiece In Vain—probably my most powerful concertgoing experience of 2013—and its entire season has been filled with similarly bold music, including work by Chaya Czernowin, Stefan Prins, Lee Hyla, and Marcos Balter. Dal Niente's recent collaboration with Bay Area indie-rock band Deerhoof comes out later this year on New Amsterdam Records, and the group makes its Ravinia debut on Thu 7/4. I can't wait to see what's in store for next season.