The 2024/25 CSO MusicNOW Series Programming Curated by Mead Composer-Curators Daniel Bernard Roumain and Jimmy López Bellido

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) announces programming details for the 2024/25 Season of CSO MusicNOW. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s acclaimed contemporary music series continues to celebrate a vision and commitment to new music guided by two Mead Composer-Curators: Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) and Jimmy López Bellido. These influential composers and cultural innovators create two unique programs that blend their own works with those of their peers and inspirational modern creators.

The series features a CSO MusicNOW-commissioned work by DBR in addition to two of his works that are performed on the first program of the season (November 24). Additional highlights include two works by López Bellido, as well as a work by Pierre Boulez in celebration of his centenary on the second program of the season (March 23). The series consists of two Sunday performances at 3:00 p.m., each featuring the opportunity to mix and mingle with the artists and fellow concertgoers following the concert. 

“Daniel Bernard Roumain and Jimmy López Bellido, offer their unique perspectives to the 2024/25 series of CSO MusicNOW,” said CSOA Vice President for Artistic Planning Cristina Rocca. “These creators bring their distinctive styles and personalities to our stage and invite us to follow them on a fascinating musical journey of discovery, with an eclectic fusion of works by some very original voices.”

Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR): Voices of Migration & Innovation (Sunday, November 24, 3:00 p.m.)
Chicago native Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) is a prolific and endlessly collaborative composer, performer, educator, and social entrepreneur known for his signature violin sounds infused with myriad electronic, urban, and African-American music influences. “About as omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets” (New York Times), DBR has worked with artists from Philip Glass to Bill T. Jones to Lady Gaga, as well as institutions including Brooklyn Academy of Music, Kennedy Center, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Sydney Opera House. In collaboration with Anna Deavere Smith, his opera “The Walkers” premiered at Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2023, the first of three works in the new opera Proximity.

His CSO MusicNOW program opens with his String Quartet No. 5 (Parks), written in 2005 and dedicated to the memory of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks and to courageous women everywhere. The program continues with Brittany J. Green’s 2022 work shift.unravel.BREAK, for clarinet, violin, cello and piano. The piece takes on the form of its title as the musical material comes together out of silence and then shifts around the ensemble. Homeland, written by Allison Loggins-Hull shortly after the devastation of Hurricane Maria surged through Puerto Rico in 2017, explores the concept of home during a crisis. Composed for solo flute, Homeland features CSO Principal Flute Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson as soloist. The program concludes with two works by DBR: a CSO MusicNOW Commission and World Premiere and his Voodoo Violin Concerto No. 1 featuring Roumain as soloist. Voodoo was composed in 2002 for solo violin and chamber ensemble and features familiar tropes from jazz, blues and folk music.

“I am looking forward to sharing the Voices of Migration & Innovation program to open the 2024/25 CSO MusicNOW series,” said Roumain. “It is an honor to return to Chicago and collaborate with musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on this program that includes my music and music of fellow composers I admire. I hope audiences will remain open to the exploration and innovation that is happening in new music today.”

Read more about Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR).

Jimmy López Bellido: Inner Dialogues (Sunday, March 23, 2025, 3:00 p.m.)
Jimmy López Bellido curates a diverse program featuring his compositions and works by composers Pierre Boulez, Quinn Mason and Adam Schoenberg. CSO audiences are already familiar with his style and compositions. López Bellido’s work, Aino, was performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a U.S. premiere to critical acclaim in 2023, led by Zell Music Director Designate Klaus Mäkelä. His La Caresse du Couteau (The Caress of the Knife), written in 2004 for string quartet, is a work inspired by a graphic that can be traced back to ancient Greek and Sufi spiritual traditions. The piece journeys through different textures and juxtaposes, toward the end, a slow tonal counterpoint in two parts and a piercing quick-paced atonal texture in the outer voices, representing an inner struggle between two forces. Guardian of the Horizon is written for violin, cello and strings and is meant to be a metaphor for the journey of the soul to the afterlife guarded by the Sphinx. In celebration of the centenary of Pierre Boulez — former CSO principal guest conductor and conductor emeritus — the program opens with his Domaines, a landmark 20th-century work for solo clarinet, performed by CSO Assistant Principal Clarinet John Bruce Yeh. Quinn Mason’s dynamic Weapon Wheel, composed in 2018 for three bass drums, and Adam Schoenberg’s poignant Reflecting Light, for brass quintet, complete the program.

“I am excited to curate Inner Dialogues, for the 2024/25 MusicNOW season, with a program that points toward renewal and rebirth,” noted López Bellido. “This concert follows a trajectory that grows from a single player to an ensemble of 16 performers and features all four instrumental groups of the orchestra. The program invites listeners to explore the musical content and inspiration of each work, which range from intellectual rigor and stylistic exploration to personal loss and spiritual symbolism.”

Read more about Jimmy López Bellido.