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Ellen McSweeney

Chicago , IL      

ELLEN MCSWEENEY is a Chicago-based artist whose work traverses classical music, new music, songwriting, theater, and literature. Recently honored as one of Musical America’s 30 Professionals of the Year, she is the founding violinist of Chicago Q Ensemble, violinist of the International Chamber Artists, and an annual guest of the Gesher Chamber Music Festival.

In addition to her work as a violinist, Ellen is a writer, singer and songwriter. She recently released her debut solo album, The Wrong Idea, and performed its music at ThreeWalls Gallery and Uncommon Ground DevonAs a member of the cast of Holcombe Waller’s groundbreaking show Wayfindersshe has toured to On The Boards Seattle, the MCA Chicago, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Ellen was also recently commissioned by Portland-based AnyWhen Ensemble to write and perform a prose text with the group.

A dynamic interpreter of contemporary music, Ellen regularly gives world premiere performances with Chicago Q Ensemble. She is a frequent guest artist with Fonema Consort, including on their recent album, Pasos en un Otra Calle, which earned a Best of 2014 nod from the Chicago Reader. Other chamber appearances include ensemble dal niente, Access Contemporary Music, and Singers on New Ground. As an improviser, she has performed on the Links Hall Collision Theory series and the City of Chicago’s Juicebox series.

Ellen holds an M.M. from DePaul University and a B.M. from the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, where she earned a second major in creative writing. Before coming to Chicago, she lived in East Africa, serving on the faculty of the Umoja Arts Centre in Arusha, Tanzania. She is now on the faculty of the Music Institute of Chicago.

Articles by Ellen McSweeney:

NewMusicBox December 11 2012 | By Ellen McSweeney
Scratch That: Solidarity, Grammys, and Drinking

A quick round-up of new music news from the Windy City.

NewMusicBox November 14 2012 | By Ellen McSweeney
Sound Room: The Humans and the Machines

SOUND ROOM was an evening-length performance of electronic music hosted by High Concept Laboratories, an arts service organization which incubates some of the most forward-thinking art in the city. The...

NewMusicBox October 31 2012 | By Ellen McSweeney
Five Rehearsal Secrets of the Spektral Quartet

Every group of people has a different approach to the musical, personal, and organizational challenges of running an ensemble. How does the Spektral Quartet do what they do--namely, learn enormous...

NewMusicBox October 10 2012 | By Ellen McSweeney
What’s a Musician Worth?

We musicians get a lot of conflicting information about what kind of compensation our work deserves. Too often, the message is that if you’re in it for the money, something’s...