© 2017 by Andy Hall

Latitude 49 is a dynamic mixed-chamber ensemble exploring new sounds, engaging diverse audiences, and holding hands with composers of today. From its beginnings in Michigan, L49 has grown into a major presence on the new-music scene with performances and residencies throughout the Midwest and beyond.

 

The ensemble’s 2017/18 season is headlined by an appearance as featured ensemble at the Bowling Green New Music Festival, alongside featured composers Sarah Kirkland Snider and Steven Mackey. L49 will also make return appearances at New Music Detroit’s Strange Beautiful Music festival and the Kenosha Creative Space, as well as first visits to Texas and Ohio’s Toledo Museum of Art. Back on home turf in Chicago, Latitude will partner with the Chai Collective in a program exploring and raising awareness of  homelessness. Spring will see the ensemble in New York for an educational residency at SUNY Fredonia. A keystone development of this season and beyond is the beginning of a close collaboration between L49 and  internationally-acclaimed composer Christopher Cerrone, recipient of the 2015 Rome Prize. As composer-in-residence, Cerrone is writing a new work for the ensemble, and arranging his opera All Wounds Bleed, which will be premiered with the Chicago Fringe Opera during the 2018/19 season. Other premieres on the horizon include works from Andrew McManus, Justin Rito, Juri Seo, Chris Sies, and Evan Ware.

 

L49 has become known for a vibrant, passionate onstage presence, which the group has brought to past performances at the Ravinia Festival, Chicago Cultural Center, Constellation Chicago, the Detroit Institute of Art, and New Music Detroit’s annual Strange Beautiful Music, and the Ear Taxi Festival in Chicago, where the ensemble premiered a new version of Pulitzer-Prize winner Shulamit Ran’s “Birkat Haderekh—Blessing for the Road II”.  This past year also saw the release of Latitude’s debut album, Curious Minds, a collection of six freshly-written works that has described as a “tapestry ...of oft-dazzling hues.” In March 2016, Latitude ventured to NYC for appearances at (le) Poisson Rouge and The Juilliard School, where the ensemble joined with the Attacca Quartet for the premiere of Jared Miller’s Fuse. Past seasons have seen a succession of conceptual programs, exploring themes through a weaving of music and other mediums: She celebrated the music of seven living women; Labyrinths explored mazes both ancient and modern, literal and imagined; Time Past and Time Present dived into the experiences and mechanisms of memory. The 2017/18 season will unveil a new program, This Might Hurt a Little, which will address the topic of violence from varying perspectives.

 

L49 carries its contagious energy beyond the concert hall, with extensive educational work at universities throughout the country. During the 16/17 year, Latitude was thrilled to return to Ann Arbor for a residency at the University of Michigan, which involved work with composers and performers through the EXCEL entrepreneurship program. The past year also saw three educational programs at the newly-constructed Kenosha Creative Space. Past seasons have included two years as ensemble-in-residence at the University of Illinois-Chicago, where L49 worked closely with composition students of Prof. Marc Mellits, as well as an appearance as featured ensemble at the 2016 MGMC Composers Conference, jointly hosted by the University of Chicago, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Northwestern University. The ensemble has also presented workshops on commissioning and entrepreneurship as part of residencies at University of Western Kentucky, Concordia College, Elmhurst College and University of Toledo.

 

L49’s work with living composers is at the heart of its mission, yielding over sixty premieres since the group’s founding. But L49 seeks to go beyond the premiere, developing relationships with composers that are lasting and meaningful. The ensemble’s extended family of composers includes Jared Miller, who workshopped a new work with L49 at the 2015 Avaloch Farm Music Institute, and Garrett Schumann, whose work Bound was recently premiered by L49 (and another close collaborator, soprano Megan Ihnen) and featured on icareifyoulisten's Spring 2015 mixtape. This past season, L49 welcomed many new composers into the family, performing works by Mark Kilstofte and Loren Loiacono (winners of L49’s 2016 Call for Scores), Viet Cuong, Timothy Page, Shulamit Ran, Annika Socolofsky, and Phil Taylor.

 

With its name taken from the parallel that serves as the Canadian/American border, Latitude 49 is committed to crossing borders of all kinds, serving as a bridge between the composers and the listeners of today.

Bending genres and uplifting spirits, The Moanin’ Frogs saxophone sextet is redefining what chamber music can be. Rooted in the classical tradition and theatre of the American Vaudeville show, The Moanin’ Frogs’ spirited arrangements, creative choreography, and technically precise performances of jazz, pop, and classical music delight fans across the world.

 

The first touring group of their instrumentation since the early 1930’s, The Moanin’ Frogs demonstrate the full line of saxophones, including bass, baritone, two tenors, alto, and soprano. This gives The Frogs a big, symphonic sound and the ability to perform both highlights from the Vaudeville repertoire and entire orchestral works with only six players. Their name, a contraction of the 1914 and 1916 hit titles, That Moanin’ Saxophone Rag and The Bull Frog Blues, also hints at their ability to hop convincingly between genres: they are at home as concerto soloists and burlesque show musicians, jazz improvisers and primo chamber ensemble players.

 

Recordings of The Moanin’ Frogs are regularly broadcast across the United States courtesy of Detroit Public Television. The ensemble has performed coast-to-coast, including live at the John F. Kennedy Center, as featured performers North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial Conference in IL, and in Beverly Hills, CA. In 2015, The Moanin’ Frogs made their first leap “across the pond,” touring with eight performances in and around the SaxOpen Festival in Strasbourg, France.

 

Committed to inspiring future generations of musicians, The Frogs recently entered into partnership with the Conn-Selmer Division of Education, which kicked off at the 2015 Conn-Selmer Institute. Through this partnership, The Moanin’ Frogs give performances and interactive sessions with students nationwide. Topics include effective individualized practice strategies, listening and collaborating, chamber music skills, playing in multiple musical styles, and life as a professional musician. Sessions include side-by-side performances with attendees and The Moanin’ Frogs.