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  • Rockefeller Chapel 5850 South Woodlawn Avenue Chicago, IL, 60637 United States (map)

The world around us is a poetic swirl of the tangible and the intangible, and for Earthbound, Looking Skyward, we bring you sonic encounters with both ends of this spectrum. Have you been to the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel? It is really one of the most breathtaking architectural gems in the city, and regardless of one’s spiritual leanings, it inspires both introspection and awe.

For our South Side episode of Tonia Ko’s Plain, Air (premiered earlier this season at the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve) we move this musical illustration of the Lake Michigan shoreline indoors to enhance its intimate sound world through Rockefeller’s sumptuous acoustics. In the bustle of city life, it can be easy for the natural elements around us to pass unnoticed, and here we have for you an enchanting space – mental and physical – in which to relish the beauty of our natural environment.

Then we turn our thoughts skyward with the US premiere of Gloria Coates’s String Quartet No. 7, “Angels.”

A pre-composition sketch by Gloria Coates

A pre-composition sketch by Gloria Coates

What you will hear are not the docile angels of grocery store sympathy cards, but potent and enigmatic creatures that Gloria conjures with colossal chords from the organ and serpentine slides in the strings. Prepare to be deliciously awash in sound, and considering what might exist outside the realm of sight.

We are delighted to have organist Mary Pan on this bill, performing on the largest instrument in Chicago, built by the illustrious E. M. Skinner.

Interspersed throughout the concert, short pieces by Purcell and Bach offer a centering element between these extremes of earth and sky.


Mary Pan is a recent graduate of the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music, where she studied organ repertoire with Thomas Murray and improvisation with Jeffrey Brillhart. She began her organ studies in 2010 with Patricia Snyder and studied with Renée Anne Louprette as an undergraduate at The Hartt School, University of Hartford.

Ms. Pan is a prizewinner in numerous competitions, including the Albert Schweitzer Organ Competition and the AGO Regional Competition for Young Organists, and a recipient of many scholarships and awards, including the M. Louise Miller Scholarship, the Yankee-Pogorzelski Memorial Scholarship, and the Peter B. Knock Memorial Music Fund. Ms. Pan has served as organ scholar at Trinity Episcopal Church, Hartford, and Grace Church in New York City. She is currently organ scholar at Saint James Cathedral, Chicago.

The commission of Plain, Air by Tonia Ko has been made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


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