With music that ‘pops’ and ‘squeaks’ off the page, flying to intergalactic sound worlds and leaving brains tingling for days afterward, Playing Out is a showcase of liberated creativity, defying definition and building new musical lexicons through the intersection of experimental jazz, free improvisation, electroacoustic music, and performance art. The program features Pulitzer Prize finalist Wadada Leo Smith and our recent commission of MacArthur Fellow George Lewis, as well as new works written for us from emerging voices such as Katherine Young, Tomeka Reid, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Mead Composer-in-Residence Samuel Adams. Playing Out examines a universe of sonic possibilities in a single program, and shows where music can go when the artistic streams of free improvisation and classical composition merge. Additional options for programming include our commission of rising star Anthony Cheung, featuring flutist Claire Chase.  

Playing Out seeks a democratization of non-commercial music beyond artificial genre boundaries or cultural origins, and confronts an old medium (the string quartet) with new ideas. This confluence of performance practice and culture breeds an innovative realm of musicianship with a wide variety of aesthetic outcomes, and we eagerly dip our toes into an ocean of musical currents to see where the tide may rise next.