Review: Chicago’s two-week Ear Taxi Festival, with world premieres, 100+ performances

Posted on: October 12, 2021

“Maybe the truest measure of a festival’s greatness isn’t its music but the uncomfortable things that music compels us to do,” writes Hannah Edgar in Sunday’s (10/11) Chicago Tribune. “Sprint from venue to venue. Scarf down snacks in precious free moments…. Rinse, repeat…. From mid-September through Oct. 4, Chicago musicians floating variously in the Venn diagram of contemporary classical, jazz, and experimental traditions performed under the banner of this sprawling [Ear Taxi Festival], which last skidded across the city in 2016.… Ear Taxi’s sophomore edition comprised dozens of world premieres, some 600 artists, and more than a hundred performances—much of which was streamed for live and post-concert viewing…. Beyond This Point percussion’s performance of Michael Gordon’s ‘Timber’ on reclaimed wood … transformed the Rebuilding Exchange warehouse on Webster Avenue into a luminescent womb. Through panels and a jovially incisive keynote by composer George Lewis, this Ear Taxi also probingly interrogated the meaning of ‘new music.’ … D-Composed String Quartet wrapped their performance … with a smoldering arrangement of Noname’s ‘Montego Bae’ [and gave a] glossy performance of ‘Break Away’ (2013) by Jessie Montgomery, whose tenure as Chicago Symphony Orchestra composer-in-residence begins in earnest this fall.”