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Fulcrum Point kicks off its 20th year by showcasing three of the most influential composers in new art music: Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival Director Marc Neikrug, the Charles Ives Living Award and Grawemeyer Award winner George Tsontakis, and Grammy winner Augusta Read Thomas. Exploring the fulcrum point of tradition and innovation, the audience is invited to engage the composers in a dialogue about their artistic, spiritual and creative process. The composers will be present in person or via skype to answer the questions of curious new music enthusiasts.


All three composers share a place on Fulcrum Point’s sounding board, sculpting and guiding our artistic vision for the past 20 years. The program explores the mystic majesty of Bhutan, Greek mythology, and the colorful canvases of Paul Klee. As the Philadelphia Inquirer gushes of Augusta Read Thomas, we extend to the music of all three of these compositional giants: “it is boldly considered music that celebrates the sound of the instruments and reaffirms the vitality of contemporary classical composition.”


The Program:


“Tiger’s Nest” by Marc Neikrug

The Tiger’s Nest is a Buddhist Monastery perched high on the side of a sheer cliff in Bhutan. Its remote and rather incomprehensible location, combined with its beauty, leave one with a very particular and poignant feeling. The piano trio was commissioned by the Library of Congress at the request of Oliver Knussen to whom it is dedicated.


“Gemini” by George Tsontakis

“Gemini” is one of a few works by George Tsontakis created in two parts; these parts are often equal in length, as well as in importance to the whole, hence the title. However, the composer’s tongue-in-cheek sense of humor is revealed as the two parts are anything but identical–more like mirror images seen with distortion. The antecedent is warmer, yet formally closed and worldly, especially in the fast, taut episode. The subsequent part embodies oneness and is cooler and open. As is typical of Tsontakis’ works, the very end does not bring closure, but rather represents a comma where questions just begin to form.


“Klee Musings” by Augusta Read Thomas

We find Thomas playing a singularly purposeful brand of fun and games in the Klee Musings, for piano trio. With this work, Thomas joins a small, select group of composers spurred by the art of Paul Klee to conjure up sounding counterparts for his quirky, dreamlike pictures.


The Musicians: 

Paula Kosower, cello

Kuang Hao Huang, piano

Gail Williams, French horn

Yuan-Qing Yu, violin


In February 2015, music critic Edward Reichel wrote, Augusta Read Thomas has secured for herself a permanent place in the pantheon of American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. She is without question one of the best and most important composers that this country has today. Her music has substance and depth and a sense of purpose. She has a lot to say and she knows how to say it — and say it in a way that is intelligent yet appealing and sophisticated.”


Marc Neikrug is a unique and multi-faceted artist. A world-renowned composer whose works have been programmed by leading orchestras and opera houses, he is also an esteemed pianist who has performed duo recitals with Pinchas Zukerman for over 20 years.


George Tsontakis is a composer of tremendous technical integrity, not to mention skill. He stands alone among current American composers for this integrity. Each work is as if whatever he needs to say at that time, he has an ethical commitment to say fully and without compromise. Part of his technical skill is an ability to build from small motifs and to transform them endlessly so that they are never merely variations, but always re-envisioned. In this respect, he seems almost to invite comparison to Beethoven.” –Don Mager, Eclectica Magazine


Location: The Promontory


The Promontory
5311 S Lake Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60615

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