Saturday, August 10 1:00 – 10:00 PM
Sunday, August 11 1:00 – 9:00 PM
Wilson street between Hermitage and Ravenswood
Beer and Beethoven…
Beer and Shostakovich…
Beer and Reich…
$10 -- all proceeds support the ACM School of Music, a non-profit organization.
Some probably come to Chicago’s ONLY CLASSICAL MUSIC STREET FESTIVAL—Thirsty Ears, now in its fourth year-- more for the music than the beer. That’s okay, but truth to tell, Chicago’s unique non-profit Access Contemporary Music won’t mind at all if you get a buzz. The beer profits are how they make money to keep all the good things that they do going in their music school. On their website you read that their mission is nothing less than “Integrating musical creativity into everyday life through storefront music schools, collaborative events designed to reach new people and commissions that give voice to composers throughout the world.”
Highlights of this year’s festival include a sundown performance from the Sounds of Silent Film Festival-- another trademark annual production by ACM where composers pair with indie filmmakers to show how music and film in shorts can combine to add power to each.
Also, to close out the fest on Sunday, a performance of ACM’s original radio play 1001 Afternoons in Chicago. This radio play features stories by legendary Chicago journalist Ben Hecht, later legendary script writer, from the 1920's. Amos Gillespie and ACM Director Seth Boustead wrote the music and ACM worked with Strawdog Theater to adapt the stories. The original was performed live on WFMT with Rick Kogan as one of the voices, a crotchety old street car conductor.
Seth Boustead says that he tries to keep mixing it up – keeping what is popular about the festival but adding new things. He says, “The first year I think there were around 800 people there. We just did it for one day, about six hours, to see if people liked it. And they did! So we expanded it to two days the following year and it's gotten a bit longer every year since.
“Last year we did Sounds of Silent Films on the street at sundown on Saturday night and it was magical. We're actually buying our own screen and projector so we can do it every year without having to rent.
“These days we attract between 3,000 and 4,000 people. August isn't the best month perhaps as a lot of folks are out of town, but my original idea was that this would be our fundraiser for the school. I was thinking that we aren't a black tie gala type of organization but we are a street fest type of organization. The vast majority of people are from Chicago, from the neighborhood in fact.
“The street is nicely divided by an alley so the music lovers are close to the stage and the folks who just want to hang out, chat and drink beer on a nice street in the summer are usually on the west side. We need these folks too though as we make our money on beer sales! Plus they're still at a classical music festival, still seeing classical music as a cool, fun thing to do on a weekend so I still feel like we're serving our mission. “
Editor’s Note: Some of ACM’s first students are now becoming fully-grown musicians in their own right. More, composers who had their first chances to hear their music performed because of ACM are now being heard worldwide. Stay tuned to these pages for more about ACM and its unique approach to building enthusiasm for contemporary music.
Photos, including all photos in the video, courtesy of Access Contemporary Music.
Music credit-- Selection from music accompanying Across the Whipplewash by Caitlin & Josh Drake
Score composed by Amos Gillespie.
Music performed by:
Hulya Alpakin - piano
Eliza Bangert - flute
Alyson Berger - cello
Nathan Bojko - percussion
Christie Miller - clarinet
Joel Styzens - percussion
Sophie Webber - cello
Jeff Yang - violin
Conductor: Francesco Milioto