Messiaen Among the Stars

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Fifth House Ensemble
  • Fifth House Ensemble
In the past few years Chicago has become a hot spot for upstart classical-music ensembles specializing in the work of new composers and worthy but obscure pieces from the past. Some of these groups are adventurous in more than their repertoire choices: last year, for instance, Fulcrum Point presented George Antheil’s Ballet Mecanique (1924) with a lineup that included three giant airplane propellers. (Not everybody is so faithful to the original staging.) Tonight another of the city’s most interesting groups, Fifth House Ensemble, will perform Olivier Messiaen’s chamber-music classic Quartet for the End of Time (1940) in the Adler's Sky Theater, against a backdrop of dazzling celestial images from the planetarium’s vast collection.

Yesterday Eight Forty-Eight host Alison Cuddy spoke with the ensemble’s Adam Marks and the Adler’s Marvin Bolt about this compelling collaboration. Now I've got a tough choice to make about what concert to see tonight: I could bask in the planetarium’s air-conditioning and soak up this multisensory barrage, or I could head to Millennium Park to sweat through the undoubtedly excellent new collaboration between Malian kora player Toumani Diabate and a group of great local jazz players calling themselves the Chicago Transilience Ensemble.

Today’s playlist:

Rocco John Group, Devotion (COCA)
Them Crooked Vultures, Them Crooked Vultures (DGC/Interscope)
Anouar Brahem, The Astonishing Eyes of Rita (ECM)
SLW, SLW (Formed)
David Bowie, Scary Monsters (EMI)

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