The Expo with
Fifth House Ensemble

Join us for the second annual EM Expo, a day-long symposium devoted to giving you a peek under the hood of some of the most forward looking and inventive young ensembles in the country. This year, we’re excited to welcome Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble, a versatile and dynamic group praised by the New York Times for its “conviction, authority, and finesse.” 5HE harnesses the collaborative spirit of chamber music to create transformative cross-media performance experiences that bring together elements as diverse as storytelling, physical theatre, graphic novels, and fashion design.

Fifth House members will lead a jam-packed day of workshops, interactive discussions, and hands-on activities, all focused on the nuts and bolts of launching a successful arts start-up. Below you’ll find a full schedule of the day’s activities, which will include a performance of their multi-media production Black Violet: Act I.


Fifth House Ensemble Bio

Founded in 2005, the Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble is a versatile and dynamic group that has established itself as a regular on the Chicago chamber music scene. Fifth House has participated in some of the city’s most well-regarded series including the Rush Hour Concerts at St. James and Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts, in addition to regular appearances on WFMT. Other recent projects include a performance of Olivier Messiaen's “Quartet for the End of Time” at the Adler Planetarium's historic Sky Theater, a couture music program for the Driehaus Fashion Awards for Excellence, and a composer portrait of Galina Ustvolskaya at NYC's Miller Theatre. Currently Ensemble in Residence at Carthage College, 5HE's innovative educational endeavors have resulted in performances and residencies at Chicago public schools and the Chicago Cultural Center in partnership with the International Music Foundation, the Chicago Teachers’ Center, and Ravinia’s Reach*Teach*Play program. Fifth House Ensemble's mission is to tap the collaborative spirit of chamber music to create engaging performances and interactive educational programs, forging meaningful partnerships with unexpected venues, artists of other disciplines, educational institutions, and audiences of every type.

Black Violet

Black Violet is the landmark collaboration between Fifth House Ensemble and graphic novelist Ezra Claytan Daniels. Slides are projected throughout the concert, telling the tale of Violet, a black cat during the last great plague of London. This gripping story is inspired by, and timed specifically to the music.


9:30 – 10AM // Breakfast and Mingle // Pierce Hall 

10:00 – 11:00AM // Session #1 - Roundtable Discussion - Transitioning from College to Career // Pierce Hall

In this roundtable discussion, ensemble members share their experiences making the transition from students to professionals in the music field. Topics include finding freelance and teaching opportunities, building a full career from multiple income streams, the orchestral audition process, networking and self-promotion.

11:00AM– 12:00PM // Session #2 - Arts Start-Up // Pierce Hall

For those students who are interested in starting their own ventures, this discussion provides tools and ideas for getting started. We discuss the steps we took in forming Fifth House Ensemble, a not-for-profit charitable organization, and our sister company, Amarante Ensembles, LLC, a for-profit entertainment business. After an interactive exercise designed to help participants find their artistic voice, we share our philosophy of arts as service, and ways to create business and funding structures that support your artistic vision. Topics include selecting a business structure, networking, marketing via the web and other sources; the art/business work balance and resources for continued learning.

12:00 – 1:00PM // Lunch // SB113

1:00 – 2:00pm // Session #3 Breakout Sessions:

  • Curriculum-Integration on Stage and in the Classroom (SB313): 5HE’s Director of Educational Programming demonstrates live examples of the ensemble’s  curriculum integrated programming. Feel like a kid again as you participate in small and large-group activities, presented in the same way as they have been in classrooms and assemblies throughout the Chicago area and nationwide. We share our philosophy as teaching artists, techniques for engaging students with limited musical backgrounds in composition activities, and practical examples of how to design lessons that create connections between musical concepts and core curricular subjects.
  • Funding Your Dreams (SB315): An extension of Arts Start-Up, this workshop guides participants through the basics of strategically planning income streams in both for and not-for-profit business models. The discussion includes budget planning, an introduction to foundation, corporate, and individual giving, and the anatomy of a grant proposal. Learn to create a broad base of support for your artistic vision while planning for future growth.

3:00PM // Performance – Black Violet // Pierce Hall

4:30 – 6:00PM // Session #4 - Putting Your Audience Center Stage // Pierce Hall

As classical musicians, much of what we focus on has to do with crafting programs. Mostly Mozart? Basically Beethoven? Russian Night? Symphony…Fantastic! We know how to create thematic connections between musical works, but is that what it takes to engage new audiences in our art? This workshop teaches the basics of psychographic audience analysis through hands-on, interactive activities and case studies. Understanding audiences allows artists put the public at the center of not only their marketing efforts, but also their program design itself.

Date: September 22, 2013 - 9:30:AM
Price: Free to NEC community, including students, staff, faculty and alumni. $10 for community members
Location: Pierce Hall

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