When: Wed., May 18, 6 p.m. 2016
String ensemble Brooklyn Rider formed thanks to the relationship its four members developed while playing in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. Still a part of that outfit, they appear on the project’s most pointed crossover effort yet, the new Sing Me Home (Masterworks), which includes collaborations with roots singer Sarah Jarosz, jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, and folk-pop singer Rhiannon Giddens. While the players are all rooted in classical music, they have the desire and curiosity to move beyond the Western canon, whether by working with Iranian star Kayhan Kalhor, a master of the kamancheh (a bowed string instrument) or Brooklyn art-pop singer Gabriel Kahane. (“Brooklyn Rider” is a play on Der Blaue Reiter, an influential early 2oth-century German art group that embraced a multidisciplinary ethos within visual and other forms of art.) On 2014’s The Brooklyn Rider Almanac (Mercury), the quartet pour their own expansive thinking into commissioning a wide swath of folks—most of them outside the classical world—to write pieces inspired by other artists from the last half century. Tonight’s concert will focus on a disparate repertoire that includes “Show Me,” a gorgeously airy, Americana-drenched meditation on William Faulkner penned by singer Aoife O’Donovan, and pianist Vijay Iyer’s “Dig the Say,” a piece that simulates the cross-cutting rhythmic ingenuity of James Brown without sounding remotely like him; other composers on the program include Glenn Kotche, Padma Newsome, Christina Courtin, and Carla Kihlstedt. This will be the ensemble’s final Chicago performance with founding cellist Eric Jacobsen, who’s being replaced by ICE member Michael Nicolas.