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Hyde Park & Kenwood Issue: Music

Music venues, festivals, series, ensembles, and more

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Little Black Pearl This community center, which serves youth in predominantly black neighborhoods like Kenwood, Oakland, Woodlawn, and Bronzeville, occasionally hosts music, though at press time nothing was scheduled. See also Art & Museums, Education, and Volunteering.  1060 E. 47th, 773-285-1211, —PM

Marsha's Music Together Music Together, which also has locations in Wicker Park and Lincoln Park, is a music-education program for babies, toddlers, and young kids—basically children who aren't ready for more formal lessons. It's not based on learning scales and keys, or even on learning to play an instrument (beyond basic percussion), but instead teaches the very deepest foundations of musicianship, like keeping rhythm. Kids, parents, and instructors engage in sing-alongs, clap-alongs, and drum-alongs designed to have a more positive developmental effect than your typical preschool racket making—but that seem just as fun. 5485 S. Cornell, 773-288-3815, —MR

Renaissance Society The Renaissance Society is one of the city's best showcases for modern visual art, and cocurator Hamza Walker also presents occasional concerts of improvised and experimental music, some of which—like a memorable Phill Niblock installation in 2001—exploit the acoustics of the space's vaulted ceilings. The next Renaissance Society concert is actually at Bond Chapel (1050 E. 59th) and features electronicist Brian Labycz, percussionist Seijiro Murayama, and bassist Jason Roebke (3/22). See also Art & Museums.  5811 S. Ellis, fourth floor, 773-702-8670, —PM

Robie House Frank Lloyd Wright's historic Robie House recently launched a monthly Emerging Jazz Series; the next show is 3/12 with singer Sarah Marie Young. Tickets, which must be bought in advance, cost $10 and include two drinks. See also Art & Museums. 5757 S. Woodlawn, 708-848-1976, —PM

Rockefeller Memorial Chapel The largest building on the U. of C. campus, designed by Bertram Goodue and built between 1926 and 1928, still hosts ecumenical worship services and can seat up to 1,700. The chapel presents quite a bit of live music, with a pronounced tilt toward choral material; four student choirs (all connected to the music department—see below) perform regularly, along with visiting groups from Chicago and elsewhere. Upcoming concerts include early-music ensemble Chicago Syntagma Musicum (3/7), the Peiyang Chorus from China with the university's Motet Choir (3/12), and the Apollo Chorus of Chicago (3/13).  5850 S. Woodlawn, 773-702-2100, —PM

Summer Breeze Every May the U. of C. Council on University Programming puts on a big student-and-staff-only carnival-slash-concert called Summer Breeze, often with bands (booked by the Major Activities Board) that could fill some of the city's biggest venues—the 2009 lineup was Broken Social Scene, Santigold, and Voxtrot, and bookings in years past have included Guided by Voices, the Roots, Eminem, and Sonic Youth. (The MAB also books student-only shows in the fall and winter—Girl Talk played Mandel Hall in November—but they're less predictable.) Earlier the same day student radio station WHPK (see below) presents a smaller show that's free and open to the public, usually with bands that are more obscure, more obnoxious, or both—last year's lineup, on an outdoor stage at 58th and University, was Thomas Function, Cause Co-Motion, White Mystery, the Names That Spell, and Johnny & the Limelites.  Hutch Courtyard, 5706 S. University, —PM

University of Chicago Folk Festival The prestigious University of Chicago Folk Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary last month with three days of concerts at Mandel Hall—bluegrass, blues, old-timey string-band music, klezmer, Greek and Creole music, and more. The shows are always ticketed, but the fest's daytime workshops at Ida Noyes Hall (1212 E. 59th, 773-702-9737), which cover subjects like hurdy-gurdy, shape-note singing, and 19th-century parlor music, have always been free. —PM

Central Javanese Gamelan
  • Central Javanese Gamelan

University of Chicago Department of Music The U. of C. music department programs public concerts all over campus (and sometimes off it), with both student and nonstudent performers. Most of its 14 student ensembles play classical music, including the University Chamber Orchestra, the University Wind Ensemble, and the New Music Ensemble (which plays at Fulton Recital Hall on 4/17). But there are notable exceptions, like the Middle East Music Ensemble, led by Palestinian oud master Issa Boulos (which plays at the International House on 4/11), and the Jazz X-tet, led by veteran AACM reedist Mwata Bowden (which plays at Fulton Recital Hall on 3/11). Many of these groups often perform with well-known guests and visiting artists, and members of the Newberry Consort, one of the department's several artists in residence, lead its Early Music Ensemble. The Newberry Consort itself plays the Oriental Institute Museum (1155 E. 58th, 773-702-9514) on 3/20. The Central Javanese Gamelan, which is informally sponsored by the school, rehearses and performs with a Chicago group called Friends of the Gamelan, one of the oldest such organizations in the States; both are composed mostly of community members, not students, but they often perform on campus. This year's spring gamelan concert is at Hyde Park Union Church (5600 S. Woodlawn, 773-363-6063) on 4/25. —PM

WHPK Broadcasting since 1968 as WHPK, the University of Chicago's radio station reaches Woodlawn, Hyde Park, Kenwood, and much of the rest of the south side via a 100-watt transmitter (upgraded from ten watts in 1985) atop Pierce Hall, a ten-story undergrad residence at 55th and University. The north side, and the rest of the world, can listen at "The Pride of the South Side," which has its studios in the Reynolds Club at 57th and University, is more a community radio station that happens to be owned by a university than it is a college station—more than a third of the DJs and hosts (including me) are nonstudents. The broadcast schedule is divided into blocks of classical, folk, international, jazz, rap, rock, public affairs, and specialty programming, with several wildly divergent shows within each. Rock (broadly interpreted) airs most weekdays from midnight till noon, with another sliver Fri 9-10:30 PM—that's when Pure Hype, the show I've been involved with for more than 15 years, brings in local and occasionally out-of-town acts to play live on the air. (Next up: Wummin on 3/5.) The station has particularly solid rap programming, notably CTA Radio (Wed 9 PM-midnight) and Bonz and The Essence (which alternate in JP Chill's recently vacated slot, Fri 10:30 PM-3 AM). There's plenty of jazz on weekends, including Jazz for Shut-Ins with Sanchez (Sat noon-2 PM). Specialty shows include the indescribable Blues Excursion with Arkansas Red (Sat 7 PM-midnight) and Sitting in the Park (Sun 7:30-9 PM), where record collector Bob Abrahamian explores classic Chicago and vocal-group soul, often supplementing his playlists with revelatory interviews. 88.5 FM, —John Dunlevy

  • Naiara Testai
  • WHPK

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