Who We Are
Founded in 2011, Civitas is a chamber music ensemble with a threefold mission: to present engaging live performances of new and traditional works; to inspire a young generation of classical musicians; and to bring the healing power of music to those with limited access to live performances.
To that end, Civitas Ensemble performs in hospitals, retirement living facilities, and in the Chicago schools. The Ensemble presents repertoire spanning four centuries of music history and numerous genres and styles. The musicians also nurture relationships with living composers to add new works to their repertoire. In 2016, Civitas Ensemble participated in Chicago’s inaugural Ear Taxi Festival and gave the world premiere of a piece written for them by David Clay Mettens and in 2017 commissioned a new work by Lukas Sommer, premiered in Prague and Chicago as part of the ensemble’s year-long Alla Zingarese collaboration with Czech violinist Pavel Šporcl and Gipsy Way Ensemble. Most recently they recorded and gave the world premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’s Plea for Peace as part of University of Chicago’s symposium on CP3.
Recognized for its quality of performances as well as its community engagement efforts, Civitas Ensemble was invited to perform with Yo-Yo Ma at the 2012 Chicago Humanities Festival, and participate in the panel discussion on the topic of “Artist and Citizenship.” Civitas was named the Artists in Residence for the Chinese Fine Arts Society. Civitas has been invited by the City of Chicago to perform at the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, as part of the City’s Loops and Variations series, and was invited to perform two world premieres at Chicago’s Ear Taxi Festival, a new music festival curated by Augusta Read Thomas and Stephen Burns. Civitas Ensemble’s performance on WFMT was selected for the station’s “Best of Live Broadcasts…” distinction. The Ensemble continues to receive rave reviews from the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Classical Review, and Chicago on the Aisle.
The 2017-18 season marks the seventh year of Civitas Ensemble’s tenure as the Ensemble-in- Residence at Valparaiso University’s Department of Music, where its members perform concerts, coach students in the many aspects of music making, and act as role models for these aspiring young musicians. Concerts highlighting French repertoire will be given at Merit School of Music in October and May, as well as with new cultural partner The Driehaus Museum in November. A series of winter concerts will bring Chinese and Chinese-American composers to the fore with visiting artists from Beijing, and herald the beginning of a second major international collaboration for Civitas.
In 2016-17 Civitas Ensemble presented a season-long exploration of Czech music, culminating in the presentation of a collaborative project with Czech musicians Pavel Šporcl and the Gipsy Way Ensemble, including arrangements by Cliff Colnot and a commission from Lukas Sommer that combining aspects of classical chamber music with traditional Gypsy music. Sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund, concerts were given in Prague and Chicago. Civitas Ensemble’s debut CD, Alla Zingarese, which captured the sonic fruits of this extraordinary collaboration, will be released on July 13, 2018 by Cedille Records.
Civitas Ensemble receives generous support from the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Driehaus Foundation at the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture, Dolores Kohl Education Foundation, Sage Foundation, and The Leslie Fund. Programs are supported in part by the Illinois Arts Council.