The Chicago Ensemble’s adventurous “Discover America” new music series concludes April 20!

The fourth and final program in The Chicago Ensemble’s adventurous series of new music concerts takes place Saturday, April 20 at 2:00 pm at Pianoforte 1335 S. Michigan Ave. Winning works in the Ensemble’s “Discover America” competition make up the program.

Winning works in the Ensemble’s “Discover America” competition make up the program. Click here for the Discover America Program Book for the entire series with composer bios, photos, and description of their pieces.

Of the six works to be performed, three are by young composers: Ryan Dodge’s Somavine for flute, bass clarinet, cello, and piano was written when the composer was at Juilliard as a collaboration with a Juilliard student choreographer. Douglas Fisk’s Banjo and Shadows for baritone and piano, comprises restrained, yet quite haunting settings of five poems by the famous Chicago poet Carl Sandburg. Mr. Fisk is co-director of the Composers/Pianists Concert Series, on which composer/pianists perform their own works. Their concerts have been presented in New York’s Merkin Hall. Elliot Roman’s energetic, quasi-minimalistic Two of Wille’s Dances was written when the composer, now a student at Manhattan School of Music, was barely out of high school.

Sungji Hong and Michael Schelle are composers whose works have been performed extensively. In fact, Ms. Hong, born in Korea and now on the faculty of the University of North Texas, has had performances in 42 countries. Her Bisbiglio, for flute, clarinet and piano is a fine example of her “utterly luminous” (Fanfare Magazine) style. Mr. Schelle has been Composer in Residence at Butler University in Indianapolis for 30 years. His works have been performed by the Chicago Symphony and many other organizations. Chords that Rhyme with your Eyes is a gentle meditation for clarinet and piano. It is a comment on the fragility of life following the composer’s recovery from serious illness.

Gerald Rizzer, the Artistic Director/Pianist of The Chicago Ensemble, appears on this final program of the “Discover America” series ex officio, having reviewed 430 submissions to the ensemble’s competition and chosen the winning works. He is represented as a composer by three songs for baritone and piano on poetry by A. E. Housman. “I am drawn to the themes of nostalgic regret that run through Housman’s poems,” says Rizzer, who has recorded two CDs of his piano pieces and has written for musical theater.

Performers appearing on this program with Mr. Rizzer are Ryan Cox, Baritone; Shanna Gutierrez, Flute; Elizandro Garcia-Montoya, Clarinet; and Andrew Snow, Cello. All have appeared on programs of diverse repertoire heard on The Chicago Ensemble’s regular concert series. The group is in its 42nd season of subscription concerts, a longevity few chamber series equal.

The Chicago Ensemble’s “Discover America” competition was launched in 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ “discovery” of America. The four programs of this year’s ambitious series are introducing Chicago audiences to winning works selected from the latest round of the competition.

The Chicago Ensemble is in its 42nd season. Often praised for its unusually diversified repertoire, The Chicago Ensemble has also had a long commitment to the discovery and encouragement of contemporary composers.

Individual tickets are $30. Each program has a different combination of piano, strings, woodwinds, and voice.

Dates of the remaining programs are:
Discover America: April 20
Eclectic: June 4/9

For full details, view the current season.

The group’s Artistic Director and Pianist is Gerald Rizzer. The Chicago Ensemble presents “Chicago’s most venerable and reportorially adventurous chamber music series,” according to Lawrence Johnson in Chicago Classical Review.

Programs I, II, III, and IV are presented Sunday afternoons at 3:00 at International House on the University of Chicago campus and Tuesday evenings at 7:30 at Fourth Presbyterian Church, a block from the Water Tower on North Michigan Avenue. Programs A, B, C, and D are presented Saturday afternoons at 4:00 (2:00pm April 20) at PianoForte in the south loop. Concerts are preceded by a complimentary reception. Gerald Rizzer offers verbal commentary about each piece.

Tickets are $30 ($10 students). For further information, contact The Chicago Ensemble at (773) 558-3448 or

Purchase tickets online at Brown Paper Tickets.


Sample our music.

Listen to our music: Alexandra Gardner: Red Earth from Crows (1998) Winner Discover America VII.


Workshop for Adult Amateur Chamber Music Players

Date: Sunday, May 12, 2019 10:00am to 5:00pm
Location: Pianoforte 1335 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago Illinois
Application Deadline: April 1, 2019

The workshop is open to piano, string, and woodwind players who have some proficiency at their instrument. Both seasoned chamber players and those who are new to playing chamber music will benefit from this workshop. We will match you up with others of comparable experience, or you may enroll with a group with whom you already play.

Coaches for the workshop are experienced, long-time members of The Chicago Ensemble, which performs its highly regarded chamber series at two Chicago locations. There will be a morning and an afternoon coaching session, with lunch provided.

Cost of the workshop is $120 for individuals whom we match up with other players.
Cost of the workshop is $100 per person for members of already constituted groups.

For full details and to apply, please download the application.
For further information, contact The Chicago Ensemble.


Financial Contribution to Support the Chicago Ensemble

If you wish to make a contribution to The Chicago Ensemble, please contact us:

Phone: (773) 558-3448


Address: PO Box 409048, Chicago, IL 60640


(The Chicago Ensemble will not have to pay a processing fee to PayPal if you indicate that you are making a gift. This is accomplished by marking the button on the PayPal form noting that it is being sent as a gift to a friend. Additionally, please note that while the recipient name should say The Chicago Ensemble, your receipt may come from the email of Bonniejean Alford, who is our website/social media manager.)


Social Media

Please follow the Chicago Ensemble on Social Media, on Facebook and Twitter. Let’s Trend this amazing 42nd season with the following hashtags: #TheChicagoEnsemble #42ndseason #MusicalAdventure #DiscoverAmerica #ChamberMUSICwithFRIENDS


An Overview of what's to come in the 42nd Season

Closing out The Chicago Ensemble’s 2018-19 eclectic series is a program presented Tuesday June 2 at Fourth Presbyterian Church and Sunday June 9 at International House. This program holds music for oboe, string quartet and piano by Mozart, Saint-Saëns, British composer Arthur Bliss, and American composer Walter Piston.

For recent media coverage on The Chicago Ensemble, view this article:

Ticket Information for Performances

For tickets or to receive a brochure:
Phone: (773) 558-3448
Online: Click the event date on our season details page to buy tickets, or visit our Brown Paper Tickets overview page.
Or see our order form to print out and mail your order.

Single Tickets: $30 general, $10 students
Ticket includes free reception beginning 30 minutes before each concert.

Each program in The Chicago Ensemble's concert subscription series is presented at Fourth Presbyterian Church, a block from the Water Tower, and at International House, on the University of Chicago campus. "Discover America" concerts are presented Saturday afternoons at 4:00pm (2:00pm on April 20) at Pianoforte in the south loop.

A complimentary reception precedes each program. The Artistic Director, Gerald Rizzer, introduces the works on the program with informative comments.

Not sure of your schedule? Tickets are good for any concert, whenever and wherever you want to experience The Chicago Ensemble.