"Fulcrum Point New Music Project is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to being Chicago's leader in diverse new music which boldly straddles the barriers between new art music and traditional music from around the world."
Founded in Chicago in 1998 by Artistic Director Stephen Burns, who plays the trumpet and the flugel horn, the 21 member ensemble includes; Andy Baker/Trombone, Scott Burns/Saxophone, Harry Dentry/Dance, Andrew Elbert/African Percussion, Jason Ellis/Bass, Mark Ford/Vocalist, Morikeba Kouyate/Kora, Tina Laughlin/Percussion, Brandon Podjasek/Percussion, Chris Sargent/Piano, Michael Taylor/African Percussion, and Jason Wolf/Percussion.
Their "primary mission is to ensure a future for new art music by actively commissioning innovative new works, presenting vibrant multi-media performances, and generating novel culture collaborations and educational programs".
This past Saturday, I was invited to check out a Fulcrum point New Music Project performance, part of the Logan Center Family Saturday’s program at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. I am so happy I went! It was fantastic! By the time they were done, we had all clapped, sang, and danced.
I had never been to anything like this before, and I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. But I figured you can't go wrong with a combination of Jazz and Afro Beat music in a live performance.
I was late and missed the first song. When I entered the auditorium, I looked around and saw nothing but smiles on the faces of the audience. I thought to myself, I must have missed something really great. As the performance continued and I heard these musicians play, I knew for sure I had definitely missed something great!
Their performance had everything a music lover like me could ask for, incredibly talented musicians playing incredible music. I could be biased because they performed Fela Kuti and Thelonious Monk, but who doesn't love Fela Kuti and Thelonious Monk? Besides, I had never heard of Paquito d'Rivera, and I loved that too!
Musicians played instruments I had never heard before too. One of them, an instrument I later found out is called a "balafon" played by Tina Laughlin and Brandon Podjasek, is one of the most beautiful instruments to ever grace my ears.
The second half was very interactive. And, I got a chance to join in, so to speak, when African artist Morikeba Kouyate asked us to sing along. He's obviously never heard my singing voice, but I sang along anyway. He played an instrument called a Kora, which is a 21 string African harp. I can't even describe what it sounds like, but it's awesome!
The program included a performance by the Woodlawn Elementary Djembe Ensemble accompanied by Michael Taylor and Jason Wolfe (members of the Fulcrum Point New Music Project) playing percussion. They are a very talented bunch of kids!
Then, the show ended with a West African Song and dance performance led by Harry Dentry.
I think it's also important to mention that this was an all age’s performance. It was wonderful to see so many parents sharing their love of music with their children. Be sure to bring your kids with you to their next kid-friendly performance.
Afterwards, they offered free music and dance lessons for the kids who didn't want the fun to end! I thought about taking a lesson, but I was concerned that somebody may have noticed that I was a little older than the other kids. I really miss being 6 sometimes.
I will certainly be in attendance at their next performance. I suggest you be there too! This is definitely something you want to see for yourself!
This event was absolutely awesome for kids, but not all of their performances are best for your little ones. If you're interested in their other kid-friendly events, check out their Sound Tracks program.
At their next event, Fulcrum Point is presenting a live orchestration, 100 musicians strong, screening of the movie "Altered States". This event is part of a city-wide celebration of modern master composer John Corigliano's 75th birthday.
Altered States - R- Rated 1h 41m, April 23rd at the Harris Theater.
Click here to get more information on their upcoming performances.