CUBE Contemporary Chamber Ensemble passes the torch and the flame burns bright

CUBE Contemporary Chamber Ensemble passes the torch and the flame burns bright
A pop-up performance in Curtiss Hall photo/Bruce Oltman

On Saturday, CUBE Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, founded in 1987 by renowned composer, music teacher and oboist Pat Morehead (among other renowned musicians), and whose husband, renowned pianist and conductor Phil Morehead, also steered the organization during its whole lifetime, symbolically passed itself onto a new generation that will lead the group into the future.

The Moreheads, who live in the South Loop, and who sooner or later want to retire to a peaceful country house in Canada, didn't want to disband CUBE.  They didn't want to kill their baby.  They knew that after more than a quarter-century, CUBE still had much to offer.  There's the CUBE name, of course--and a history.  And a treasury at stake.  And many of the board members wanted to remain active, offering guidance and institutional knowledge to whoever could take over.

The Moreheads got excited a while back when they saw an innovative arts group called Renegade Stage perform a Bach Cantata.  Could CUBE have a new and satisfying future if these youngsters would get involved?  Arrangements ensued--and it happened.  The Moreheads brought the "kids" in.  And they let go.  And all seems well.

Two of the new leaders--singer, composer, producer and CUBE's new artistic director Hope Littwin, and actor and CUBE's new executive director Kroydell Galima--presided over the first official new CUBE fundraiser in quaint Curtiss Hall at the Fine Arts Building at Congress and Michigan on Saturday night, a stone's throw from the Moreheads' home at Harrison and Dearborn.  The night was filled with fresh and quirky overtones of the future.

Like pop-up performances that occurred throughout the evening.  And four hands piano of both Debussy and Bizet; pianist Jeff Richards, who provided two of those hands, also used his hands to make a fabulous Greek bean soup that was the star of the food table.

There was that Bach Cantata, too--and poignantly, Pat Morehead played the oboe.  There was a new vocal quartet specially commissioned by CUBE.  And some dance.

And there was a Carmen medley.  One of the singers, Johanna Moffitt brought her new and very small dog to the party.  She had her only one day and she was cuddled all evening by Moffitt, as well as many of the guests.

The Carmen medley provided a taste of the new CUBE's debut performance in late March and early April--La Tragedie de Carmen, a take on the Peter Brooks adaption of Bizet's famous opera.  Littwin, a student of soprano Patrice Michaels, will sing the role of Carmen.

CUBE, as everyone saw at the fundraiser, is still classical.  But also new.  It will carry on the tradition of providing new classical music in Chicago.  And more.  Its followers can rest assured that things will only get better.  The way the "kids" comported themselves on Saturday was...heartening.  Illuminating.  Amusing.  Entertaining.  Uplifting.  And sentimental.  They showed they have what it takes.

Everyone who was there saw the dawn of a new CUBE Contemporary Chamber Ensemble.  In fact, CUBE's official name has been changed to CUBE Collaborative Arts Ensemble.  Through the silent auction and the raffle--for everything from Julius Meinl coffee to exercise classes to restaurant gift certificates to art pieces and antiques--the hearty bean soup, the aforementioned performances, throughout it all...youth and new, young and future were all the names of the game.

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