“No performing arts group in the city has more avidly explored the cutting-edge connections among the world of new classical music, pop culture, technology and other fields than the Fulcrum Point New Music Project” (John von Rhein). Since 1998 Fulcrum Point New Music Project has dedicated itself to the advancement of diverse new music through multi-media performances, educational programs, and the commissioning of innovative works. Winners of the prestigious BMI and ASCAP music awards, Fulcrum Point is internationally recognized for its compelling programming which speaks to our time by engaging a broad spectrum of artforms and artists, including visual art, popular culture, technology and literature. While the organization has grown and changed since inception, the founding mission to find insight into today’s diverse world through significant cross-cultural connections has remained a constant guiding force.
“Stephen Burns’ intrepid chamber ensemble has made a mark in Chicago, providing a bracing shot of youthful adrenaline to the local music scene and drawing a loyal audience to the group’s imaginative concerts” (Chicago Sun Times). When Fulcrum Point New Music Project was established, Chicago’s new art music scene was still in an early stage of development. While the city has an formidable reputation as a creative incubator (primarily in the visual and architectural arts), there were only about 4-5 established new music groups and these collectives were primarily focused on an academic contemporary canon, not on the complete spectrum of innovative programming. Minimalists, neo-classicist, neo-romantics, post-modernists, and multimedia artists had few resources for support, nor opportunities for development or presentation in Chicago. Recognition of their creativity was at best sporadic, and the contemporary field was dominated by the aesthetic of giants like Pierre Boulez and Ralph Shapey rather than new artists in development.
Recognizing that this community needed a significant and supportive platform to champion their work, Performing Arts Chicago (PAC) gave Stephen Burns a mandate to create dynamic new programming that would embrace a broad range of styles, experimental opportunities, multimedia content, and significant social events for cultural exchange and community building. Burns seized this opportunity and got to work reinvigorating and galvanizing Chicago’s new music scene. What began as a finite initiative quickly transitioned into a robust organization, building on the energy and potential of contemporary ensemble work.
Now in its 20th year, Fulcrum Point continues to grow on that initial excitement, presenting new work in settings as diverse as the Field Museum, Old St. Pat’s, the National Museum of Mexican Art, Ravinia Festival, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, where the ensemble is a resident company. It continues to advocate for new and established contemporary artists, and has developed sustained partnerships with organizations and individuals across the city and beyond. The contemporary music community in Chicago is now a vital part of the cultural fabric of the city, and Fulcrum Point has been consistently recognized as a major catalyst in that transformation.