The Dovetail Series: Maggie Brown + Spektral Quartet


Conceived as an incubator for collaboration and exchange across Chicago’s geographic and cultural borders, the Dovetail Series pairs Rebuild-affiliated artists and musicians with the Spektral Quartet, University of Chicago’s ensemble-in-residence, each playing a solo set and then meeting in the middle for a devised or improvised middle set.

For the July 22nd launch, Maggie Brown and Spektral Quartet reinvigorate the music and poetry of Ms. Brown’s father, superlative Chicago songwriter Oscar Brown, Jr. An unheralded classic, “A Column of Birds” is an achingly beautiful meditation on freedom, and the revelations to be found in plain sight. “The Entertainer” sends the Ragtime hit from which it takes its name into darker territory, with lines like “Scott Joplin, whose music won an Academy Award / 56 years after he was laid in an unmarked grave.” One doesn’t have to look far to see the parallels here to the life of her father, to whose legacy Ms. Brown has dedicated much of her creative drive.

Bookending this collaborative encounter, Ms. Brown performs captivating spoken-word and vocal numbers from her own catalog and Spektral Quartet presents recent commissions from composers Augusta Read Thomas and Sam Pluta.

Dreamed up over dinner with Rebuild founder Theaster Gates and members of the Spektral Quartet more than a year ago, the Dovetail Series endeavors to move Spektral’s South Side music-making beyond the University of Chicago campus where it is ensemble-in-residence at the university’s Department of Music. Rather than simply bringing the string quartet repertoire to a community historically kept at arm’s length from it, this initiative seeks to be a true exchange in which creativity and learning flow in both directions. Plans for concerts throughout the 2017/18 season feature dynamic artists such as the Black Monks of Mississippi, Yaw Agyeman, and Mikel Patrick Avery.

The Dovetail Series is made possible with the generous support of the Paul M. Angell Foundation. This event is free and open to the public. RSVP here.