For this Ear Taxi Festival Spotlight Concert, Fourth Coast Ensemble presents the world premiere of “A Brush With Our Time,” from composer Andrea Clearfield and librettist Doreen Rao. Commissioned by FCE, this piece for four voices, shakuhachi, percussion, and piano is based on the poetry of Zen artist Kazuaki Tanahashi, and explores the tension between peace and conflict. The four singers will move freely throughout Newberry Library’s modular performance hall, immersing the audience in Clearfield’s “vivid and galvanizing” sound world (Opera News), while Tanahashi paints four large-scale enso calligraphy works on canvases stationed throughout the performance space. The program begins with excerpts from Leonard Bernstein’s Mass and will be staged by Chicago director George Cederquist.
Fourth Coast Ensemble is a classical vocal quartet specializing in the unique style and repertoire of vocal chamber music. Celebrated for its “horizon-expanding programming,” (Chicago Classical Review), Fourth Coast Ensemble embraces a repertoire that spans the history of the genre, from Schubert and Brahms to composers of the present day. The ensemble has earned a reputation of excellence “built on the quality of its small roster of artists” (Vocal Arts Chicago) – soprano Sarah van der Ploeg, mezzo-soprano Bridget Skaggs, tenor Ace Gangoso, and bass-baritone David Govertsen.