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 pre­mière 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 pre­mière 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.