Our Mission

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 they commission, perform, and record new music that explores the possibilities of the human voice in an avant garde chamber setting. Known for their “enthusiastic embrace of daring new music” (Chicago Reader) Fonema is driven by a fascination with pieces that foster rich interplay of voices and instruments and that are characterized by deep expressivity. The ensemble is highly committed to presenting works by Latin American composers to US audiences and encouraging musical exchange between these regions.

Fonema Consort was founded in 2011 by singer Nina Dante and composers Pablo Santiago Chin and Edward Hamel. Since it’s founding, the ensemble has premiered over 50 works, and traveled widely across the US and increasingly in Latin America.

Performance Highlights

National performance highlights include appearances with National Sawdust (New York City), the City of Chicago’s Pritzker Pavilion, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Latino Music Festival (Chicago), WFMT’s Thirsty Ear Festival (Chicago), the Frequency Festival (Chicago), Preston Bradley Hall (Chicago), the 113 Composer’s Collective (Minneapolis), the Instituto Cervantes (Chicago), and Bond Chapel (Chicago). Fonema Consort has held residencies and given performances at Oberlin Conservatory, Harvard University, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, UC Berkeley, New England Conservatory, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, North Central College, Drew University and Saint Xavier University.

International performances include an Ecuadorian tour featuring the work of Mesias Maiguashca (Teatro Sucre, Quito; Centro Abraham Lincoln, Cuenca); appearances on Mexican festivals Visiones Sonoras, the Festival Internacional de Chihuahua, Festival Interfaz, and the Foro de Música Nueva as well as at the Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporaneous, the Claustro de Sor Juana and UNAM (Mexico City); appearances at the Universidad de Costa Rica (San José) and the Centro Cultural de España (San José); and a FACE grant-funded performance with chamber choir Voix de Stras’ at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg.

Collaborations

Fonema Consort is dedicated to the commissioning of new works for voice(s) with instruments, and has premiered over 50 new works since 2012. Recent commissions and world premieres include works by Peter Ablinger (2020 premiere), Mathew Arrellin, Pablo Chin, Julio Estrada (2019 premiere), Valeria Jonard, Morgan Krauss, Mesias Maiguashca, Chris Mercer, Fernanda Aoki Navarro, Lewis Nielson, Clara Olivares, Joan Arnau Pámies, Tiffany Skidmore, Zesses Seglias, Iván Sparrow, Francisco Castillo Trigueros, Anna-Louise Walton, Katherine Young, and Bethany Younge.

Albums

Described by the Chicago Reader’s Peter Margasak as “dazzling“, Fonema Consort’s debut album Pasos en otra calle (New Focus Recordings, 2014) features the music of Costa Rican composers Pablo Chin and Mauricio Pauly. Fonema’s 2017 album FIFTH TABLEAU (Parlour Tapes+) was supported by an Aaron Copland Fund for Music grant and featured new works by five rising American composers. The ensemble looks forward to the release of their third album, Vistas furtivas: the music of Juan Campoverde (New Focus Recordings), in February 2020. They have been broadcasted by WFMT and CAN-TV.

Support

Fonema Consort is a recipient of a FACE grant (2013), an Aaron Copland Fund for Music grant (2016), two Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation grants (2016 and 2017), and two Amphion Foundation grants (2018 and 2019). They have received significant project support from the Goethe Insitut of Chicago. The ensemble is grateful to the City of Chicago’s DCASE, the Amphion Foundation, the Goethe Institut, and the Mexican Cultural Institute for supporting their 2019-2020 season.