consort : a group of instrumentalists and singers performing together
fonema : (Spanish, phoneme) the smallest unit of speech, which distinguishes words according to their sonic quality.
These concepts define the essence of Fonema Consort as we commission, perform, and promote new music that explores the possibilities of the human voice. We are driven by a fascination with pieces that foster rich interplay of voices and instruments and attempt to close the gap between music-making and drama. The ensemble is highly committed to presenting works by Latin American composers to US audiences and encouraging the cultural exchange between these regions.
A Short History
Fonema Consort was founded in 2011 by singer Nina Dante and composers Pablo Santiago Chin and Edward Hamel. Named “Best New Vocal-Oriented Contemporary Classical Ensemble of 2014” by the Chicago Reader, the ensemble has quickly earned a place in Chicago’s new music community, and is building a national and international audience with performances across the US as well as in Europe and Latin American. The ensemble’s upcoming 2017-2018 season includes a residency at Harvard University featuring the work of Julio Estrada, an Ecuadorian tour supported by an Ernst von Siemens grant, and a residency at the Claremont Colleges in California among other events.
Fonema Consort is dedicated to the commissioning of new works for voice(s) with instruments, and has collaborated closely with celebrated composers such as Julio Estrada, James Dillon, and Lewis Nielson; as well as young luminaries such as Bethany Younge, Sivan Cohen Elias and Clint McCallum. They have also collaborated with performers such as Voix de Stras’, Duo X and Miranda Cuckson.
Fonema Consort’s national performance highlights include appearances at Chicago’s Pritzker Pavillion, National Sawdust, the New Music Miami Festival, the first annual Frequency Festival, and the Ear Taxi Festival; as well as collaborations with the Goethe Institut of Chicago, the Renaissance Society, Experimental Sound Studio, High Concepts Laboratory, the Latino Music Festival, the Instituto Cervantes, and the 113 Composer’s Collective.
International performance highlights include appearances on the Visiones Sonoras Festival, MUAC and the Foro de Música Neuva of Mexico City, the Festival Internacional de Chihuahua, and at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg.
Described by Chicago Reader’s Peter Margasak as “dazzling“, Fonema Consort’s debut CD, Pasos en otra calle featured the music of Costa Rican composers Pablo Chin and Mauricio Pauly, and was released in 2014 on New Focus Recordings. The ensemble is a recipient of a 2016 Copland Foundation Grant, which funded the production of an audiovisual album of theatrical works, Fifth Tableau, released in June of 2017 with Parlour Tapes+.
Believing that new music offers a journey of discovery for the performer and listener alike, Fonema Consort hopes that our audience will join us as we explore the edge of musical aesthetics.