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About Us

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ABOUT ACM

OUR VISION

A world in which everyone regardless of social status, creed, ethnicity, sexual orientation or placement in the gender spectrum has equal access to high quality creative music performances, performers, composers and teachers.

WHO WE ARE

OUR MISSION

WHO WE ARE

OUR MISSION

To bring musical creativity to life every day through performances of the music of diverse living composers, collaborative events designed to reach new audiences, innovative commissioning projects that foster the creation of new music and through storefront music schools that teach musical creativity.

HISTORY

OUR STORY

2004

ACM was started in 2004 by composer Seth Boustead. ACM’s first program was Weekly Readings in which we read through, recorded and posted a new piece by a living composer every week.

2005

We started our Sound of Silent Film Festival the following year.  The fest features newly commissioned scores performed live to modern silent films from around the world and is one of our most popular programs.

2006

Composer Alive came out of the Weekly Readings program. We commission a composer to write a new piece and send it in installments.  Each installment is rehearsed and recorded in public and posted to our site.

2007

We started the ACM School of Music in 2007 to teach musical creativity, and an appreciation for musical creativity, to students of all ages.  Convenient storefront locations bring musical creativity into a wide variety of communities.

Today the ACM School of Music teaches musical creativity to more than 300 students in three storefronts in Chicago and virtually.

2008

Our documentary film Composer Alive: Eastern Expressions is shown on PBS. The film follows our collaboration with composer Xiaogang Ye and details the creation of his piece Datura from the first installment, through our trip to Beijing to the final concert in Chicago.

2008 Continued

We started the High School Composers Workshop to create an opportunity for young composers to work with professional musicians and composers. The workshops ran for seven years.  Some of our notable alumni include Annika Socolofsky and Patrick Owen-Leary.

2009

The High School Composers Workshop moves to Roosevelt University

2010

We open two new locations for the ACM School of Music in Chicago’s Avondale and Rogers Park neighborhoods.

2011

We begin a longstanding collaboration with Open House Chicago to commission new music inspired by landmark buildings.  We place musicians in the spaces to perform the music every fifteen minutes for self-guided tours.  This program has since spread to cities around the world and eventually led to Songs About Buildings and Moods.

2012

We produce the Sound of Silent Film Festival in New York, our first production outside of Chicago. There are two sold-out shows at Anthology Archives in the East Village.

2013

We collaborate with Strawdog Theater to create a new radio play inspired by stories of Ben Hecht called 1001 Afternoons in Chicago.  We perform the piece live on the radio and release it as an album.

2014

We begin a collaboration with Doors Open Milwaukee, we take the Sound of Silent Film Festival to Austin for two sold-out shows at Richard Linklater’s Austin Film Society, we continue our sold-out concert series at Architectural Artifacts in Chicago.

2015

We take the Sound of Silent Film Festival to Mexico City for two sold-out shows at Cineteca Nacional, in Chicago the festival moves to the storied Music Box Theater, we commission Agniezska Stulginska for our Composer Alive project.

2016

We launch the Thirsty Ears Festival, Chicago’s only classical music street festival.  We start a three-concert series of international composers at the University of Chicago, we commission dozens of composers for projects in three cities

2016

Late Night at National Sawdust is a collaboration with Open G Records and the syndicated radio show Relevant Tones and features conversation and music broadcast live on WFMT and around the country.

2017

ACM launches the Concept Lab series at Spectrum in New York City.  It then moves to the renowned Cornelia Street Cafe and, when they are forced to close, to the Rockwood Music Hall.  Concept Lab is a series featuring exclusively works in progress and sound experiments.

2018

We celebrate Philip Glass’ 81 birthday with pianist Jenny Linn as part of a live Relevant Tones broadcast at Le Poisson Rouge in Manhattan. Later the same year we produce a live Relevant Tones broadcast from Lincoln Center

2019

The ACM School of Music enrollment surpasses 300, our Live at the Davis concert series is attracting large crowds, attendance at the Thirsty Ears Festival tops 3,500 and we commissioned a record (for us) 25 new pieces

2020

Covid hits and we have to close the school. We use this time to remodel our main location to include digital learning platforms, a production studio and a cafe. We acquire the rights to the Relevant Tones podcast.

2021

The school reopens, then closes again, then reopens.  We launch a new video series called Songs About Buildings and Moods. We celebrate the tenth anniversary of Relevant Tones with a three-day festival at Roulette in Brooklyn.

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

STRATEGY

OUR STRATEGY

Changing the image of classical music and present it as a living tradition – not dead European men in wigs. When classical music is seen as thriving and relevant, audiences grow. ACM has developed a strategy to address both of these challenges and revitalize classical music.

All of ACM’s programs have been created to serve one or more of these three strategic elements, from our ACM School of Music, to the Thirsty Ears classical music street festival to Sound of Silent Film, Open House and more.

01

Go where the people are, make contemporary music visible.

02

Raise musical literacy in general. There are many extremely intelligent individuals who don’t know basic things about music. This has to change.

03

Humanize the composers who create the music. Show off the diverse elements of today’s classical music and change the perception about who can compose and perform classical music. We have to widen the definition of classical music to include the diverse faces of today.

TEAM

MEET OUR TEAM

SETH BOUSTEAD

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

TREVOR PATRICia Watkin

DIRECTOR OF artistic activities

Bergundy Harris

Director of Operations

CHRISTY BENNETt

DIRECTOR OF PERSONNEL & DEVELOPMENT

David Wetzel

Technical Director

CHRIS RAMAEKERS

Music Director

BOARD

MEET OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS

MARilyn CATON

president

BRANDON HARRINGTON

Treasurer

Jessica Richardson

Secretary

Dominic Johnson

Director

Jesse McQuarters

Director

George Thiruvathukal

Director

Anna Cho Walker

Director

Aubree Weiley

Director

Luis Cerro

Director

Susan Doig

Director

ARTISTS & COMPOSERS

Meet Our Artists & Composers

  • Joenne Dumitrascu

    Violinist | New York City

    Agnieszka Stulginska

    Composer | Warsaw

    Gabriela Ortiz

    Composer | Mexico City

    Tatev Amiryan

    Composer | Chicago

    Isak Björn Hedlund

    Composer | Sweden

    Angel Bat Dawid

    Composer | Chicago

    William Jason Raynovich

    Composer | Chicago

    Chris Ramaekers

    Music Director | Chicago

    Regina Harris Baiocchi

    Composer | Chicago

    Henry Zheng

    Violinist | Chicago

    Amy Wurtz

    Pianist/Composer | Chicago

    Ford Fourqurean

    Clarinetist/Composer | New York City

    Alyson Berger

    Cellist | Chicago

    Jane O’Leary

    Composer | Galway

  • ARTISTS & COMPOSERS

    MEET OUR ARTISTS & COMPOSERS

    ACM works with musicians and composers around the world to bring musical creativity to life every day.

    BRANDON HARRINGTON

    Treasurer

    Kimerly Schelter

    Secretary

    Tony SCott-Green

    Director