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Double Play: The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE)

The 30-member group returns to the MCA for its first concert with the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho.

The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) has built robust satellite communities in both Chicago and New York by playing underground gigs at nightclubs and galleries. (Its membership is divided between both cities.) But it wasn’t until this year that ICE found a larger home at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. “I think the function of a new music ensemble is to repattern an audience to buy something not knowing what they’re going to get,” says Claire Chase, a flutist and cofounder. “They’re going to be part of something that’s happening right now.”

On November 19th, the 30-member group returns to the MCA for its first concert with the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. Imagine the enormous range of tones found in nature—wind blowing through a tunnel, rain falling on an aluminum roof, the pings of a pocket full of change—and you have something that resembles (but does not do justice to) Saariaho’s aesthetic. “You can’t really compare Saariaho to anyone,” Chase says. “It’s otherworldly.” And very right now.

GO: ICE plays Nov. 19th at the MCA, 220 E. Chicago Ave.; 312-397-4010, mcachicago.org

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