Unheard-of Ensemble: Fire Ecologies

Harold Blumenfeld Event

Fire Ecologies
Unheard-of performs Fire Ecologies, a fifty-five minute unique musical and visual experience that explores American landscapes through the lens of climate change. Composer Christopher Stark and video artist Zlatko Ćosić embarked on a journey across the United States capturing audio and video for this multimedia experience. The work incorporates field recordings of the 2020 California wildfires along with sonic and visual imagery from Chris's trip across Montana, Oregon, and California as well as parts of Colorado. Zlatko gathered footage from the American heartland surrounding Missouri as well as long form explorations of nature surrounding St. Louis. Stark created a work that can be experienced both in concert halls as well as in nature from gallery spaces to the Gowanus Canal. 

Christopher Stark, composer
Christopher Stark, whose music The New York Times has called, "fetching and colorful," has been awarded prizes from the Guggenheim Foundation, Chamber Music America, the Barlow Endowment, and the Fromm Foundation at Harvard. Named a "Rising Star" by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, his music and arrangements have been performed by ensembles such as the Detroit Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony, and St. Louis Symphony. In 2012, he was in residence at Civitella Ranieri, a fifteenth-century castle in Italy, and in June of 2016 he was in residence at the Copland House. Recent highlights included performances at the 2016 Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and at the Whitney Museum of American Art as part of the 2016 NY Phil Biennial. In 2018, he lived in Bergen, Norway where he worked with the BIT20 Ensemble; and in 2020, he was a resident artist at the Bogliasco Foundation in Italy as the Aaron Copland Fellow in Music. He is currently living and working in Rome, Italy as the 2022-23 Elliott Carter Rome Prize recipient. His film score for the feature-length film Novitiate premiered at Sundance in January 2017 and was theatrically released by Sony Pictures Classics. His debut CD, Seasonal Music, was released in 2019 on Bridge Records.

Zlatko Ćosić, video artist
Zlatko Ćosić is a video artist born in Yugoslavia whose work includes short films, video installations, theater and architectural projections, and audio-visual performances. Ćosić’s experience as a refugee influenced and shaped the content of his early artistic practice. His work began with the challenges of immigration and shifting identities, evolving to socio-political issues related to injustice, consumerism, and climate crisis. Ćosić's artwork has been shown in over fifty countries in exhibitions such as the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Video Vortex XI at Kochi-Muzeris Biennale, ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, St. Louis International Film Festival, Torrance Art Museum, Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, /si:n/ Video Art and Performance Biennale, Institut Für Alles Mögliche, The Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Kunstverein Kärnten, and the Research Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale. He has received grants including the WaveMaker Grants at Locust Projects, a Kranzberg Grant from Laumeier Sculpture Park, and the Regional Arts Commission Artist Fellowship.

Unheard-of Ensemble
Unheard-of Ensemble is a contemporary chamber ensemble dedicated to connecting new music to communities across the United States through the development and performance of adventurous programs, using technology and interactive multimedia. Unheard-of is committed to the idea that new music belongs in every community, and implements this mission through concerts and educational workshops throughout New York, as well as across the United States through touring. Unheard-of’s scope and impact has grown dramatically since forming in 2014, now a nation-wide community across multiple artistic genres. With an approach that is open and welcoming of all voices, Unheard-of strives to be a vehicle for imaginative voices novel and experienced, experimental and traditional, uncomfortable and accessible.

Unheard-of commissions large-scale multimedia projects, runs its own summer workshop for emerging composers (the Collaborative Composition Initiative or CCI), and self-presents collaborative concerts with community organizations like the Gowanus Dredgers and Tideland Institute. These innovative projects range from concerts aboard rafts in the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, to gallery spaces and concert halls. Unheard-of’s 2022-23 season features new commissions by Nickitas Demos, Lila Meretzky, Adam Mirza, and “Unheard-of plays Unheard-of”, a concert of premieres written by the ensemble. This October the ensemble tours Ohio, visiting Kent State University, Kent State’s Stark Campus, and Oberlin. In November, Unheard-of has a residency at Washington University of St. Louis, visits Illinois State University, and performs on Crosstown Arts’s series in Memphis, Tennessee. Unheard-of’s spring features a four-day guest residency with the Northwestern University composition studio, a concert at Chicago’s Constellation, and a collaboration with Minnesota-based Spitting Image Collective workshopping and premiering new multimedia works written by the collective.

Unheard-of Ensemble’s 2021-22 season took them across the Midwest, Southeast, Texas and their home state of New York. Unheard-of served as the 2021-22 KEAR ensemble-in-residence at Bowling Green State University. They presented tours of the Midwest, visiting the Johnstone Fund Series in Columbus, Ohio, Miami University, Ohio University, and West Virginia University. The group also toured the South with performances at University of Texas- San Antonio, Texas State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Emory University, Chattanooga State Community College, and University of Georgia. In 2020-21, the ensemble presented virtual residencies at Florida State University, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, and the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. To date, the ensemble has premiered over 100 works with commissions.

Unheard-of has received support from the Johnstone Fund for New Music, the Dwight and Ursula Mamlok Foundation, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Barlow Endowment, the Alice M. Ditson Fund, the Aaron Copland Fund, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the New York Women Composers Organization, the Brooklyn Arts Council, and the Puffin Foundation. Unheard-of was a recipient of a Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Grant to commission recent Rome Prize-winner Christopher Stark, as well as a Chamber Music America Ensemble Forward Grant made possible with support of the New York Community Trust.

Their debut album Unheard-of//Dialogues was released to critical acclaim: “a fantastic debut by a group that has been doing more than their part to inject vitality into the new music scene for the last few years” (Jeremy Shatan, An Earful). The album’s eclectic repertoire has garnered the attention of critics from ArtsATL (“Powerfully evocative,”) Steve Smith of National Sawdust Log (“scintillating and evocative,”) and Creative Loafing Atlanta (“mellifluous magic.”)

Credit: Images from video by Zlatko Ćosić

Co-sponsored by Center for the Humanities