ICE in the house and ice in the punch

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Rebekah Heller plays David Lang

ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) held its second annual benefit, Summer ICE, last Sunday at Longman & Eagle. The guests were a pastiche of Chicago culturati clad in thick-framed glasses and well-fitted button-downs. The event unfolded in perfect parallel with ICE’s interest in melding Chicago’s visual art community and the contemporary music arena (something Claire Chase mentioned in my interview with her).

The front room of L&E provided the DJ booth and stage for ICE performers. And the back room was filled with everything from art to certificates for private performances by ICE members, donations for the evening’s auction. And the bar was . . . busy.

ICE bassoonist Rebekah Heller began the evening with a performance of David Lang’s “Press Release.” To my mind, the piece was a wonderful articulation of convergences—a theme that was present throughout. “Press Release” alternates between two distinct melodies, bass and treble, and Heller’s forceful rendition sounded like two separate voices in dialogue. It seemed an appropriate choice for an evening about creating conversation among distinct cultural voices.

Slideshow: Summer ICE at L&E

By Elly Fishman

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As Heller played, guests poured through the door. Among them, MCA curator Naomi Beckwith, Ellen Alderman of Alderman Exhibitions, New Millennium Orchestra music director Francesco Milioto, and art enthusiast and patron Deone Jackman. The space was abuzz all evening, as there is no better conversation starter than Longman & Eagle libations.

L&E provided an array of cocktails and small bites. The menu included Spring Punch (sour mash bourbon, guava nectar, orange blossom Rx tonic, angostura bitters), Longman Manhattan (Wild Turkey 101 bourbon, Dolin vermouth, angostura and cherry bitters), beef tartare on compressed cucumber, compressed melon and feta with micro basil, and mini meatloaf po’boys.

For a group that began 11 years ago with an annual budget under $700, ICE has had an incredible rise. But no matter the annual budget, it's clear ICE is well versed in knowing how to throw a good party.

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