Ensembles with ambitious crossover agendas have come and gone in this town, but Fulcrum Point, a new chamber group founded by conductor and ace trumpeter Stephen Burns, may outlast them all. Most of the seven members who'll be on hand for its debut this weekend also play in the American Concerto Orchestra--another Burns brainchild--which displayed uncommon exuberance last March in its own first Chicago appearance. Burns has shown himself to be a meticulous, energetic conductor who draws the most eloquent articulations from his players, and his programming for Fulcrum Point already looks promisingly irreverent: the theme of this concert is "selling out." The centerpiece is Stravinsky's music from L'histoire du soldat, which tells the Faustian tale of a violinist who trades his instrument to the devil for a magic book that can make him rich. Stravinsky composed the piece in 1918 when he needed a popular success because the Bolshevik revolution had cut off funding from Russia. Also on the roster are David Baker's 1994 Homage a l'histoire, Meyer Kupferman's Images of Chagall, and Michael Daugherty's Dead Elvis, all of which reference the Stravinsky one way or another. Homage is a postmodern update, and Kupferman uses Stravinsky's instrumentation to stitch together jazz, klezmer, and circus music in a crazy-quilt tribute to Stravinsky's fellow Russian expat Chagall. Though Dead Elvis also adopts L'histoire's instrumentation, Daugherty--a fortysomething University of Michigan professor known as new music's shock jock--closes it with a counterpoint between snippets of 50s rock and variations on a medieval Dies Irae. Sunday, 3 PM, ballroom, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 112 S. Michigan; 773-722-5463. A preconcert talk with Burns, Daugherty, and architect Stanley Tigerman begins at 2 PM. TED SHEN
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Michael Daugherty uncredited photo; Stephen Burns photo by J. Henry Fair.