Outer Ear

Outer Ear is an outgrowth of our enormously successful Outer Ear Festival of Sound, which presented over 200 artists’ works during the past ten years.  No longer limited to a three-week festival framework, the new Outer Ear will present an exciting range of performances, installations, concerts, screenings, broadcasts, and web projects throughout the year at numerous locations throughout Chicago.

Spring 2011 Live in Studio A Series

The new Live in Studio A series features performances by locally and internationally based musicians who push the boundaries of how we think about sound art. Performances are held in the acoustically ideal Studio A recording room in Experimental Sound Studio. With seating for just 25, Studio A is a meditative, intimate environment that invites the audience to listen closely and think about sound in a whole new way.


Recent Performances

Sat, Oct 16th at 8PM - Animal Hospital and Neil Jendon
---Animal Hospital is Kevin Micka's one-man musical recording/performance entity. During performances, Micka buries himself in a pile of electronics-shelves of effects, mixing consoles, amps and delay units-while patiently constructing a layered nest of loops consisting of live drum beats, guitar chords, scrapes, chucks, chimes, and melodies resulting in anything from more conventional songs to meticulously crafted ambient movements on to full on improvisation.
---Over the last 10 years, Neil Jendon’s recordings and live performances have wandered in and out of the spaces of noise, ambience, improvisation and minimalism. His main music-making tools are a modular analog synthesizer, vintage electric organ and guitar.
Sun, Oct 24th at 2PM - Gangwish: Melissa St. Pierre +special guests
---Melissa St. Pierre is a pianist and composer based in Pittsburgh specializing in prepared piano repertoire and exploration.  For this performance she will be performing with her trio, Gangwish.
Sat, Oct 30th at 8PM - Tim Kaiser
---Tim Kaiser creates an ethereal sonic landscape on a series of hand-made electronic and acousto-electric devices. The aural imagery that Kaiser conjures is atmospheric and compelling.
Sat, Nov 20th at 8PM - Will Faber
---Multi-instrumentalist Will Faber will be performing a solo set combining guitars, electronics and percussion, touching on musical styles from diverse cultures and creating a fused sound that is all his own. 
Sat, Dec. 4th at 8PM - Ed Herrmann directs a rare performance on Tom Nunn’s electro-acoustic percussion instruments.

---Tom Nunn has designed, built and performed with original musical instruments since 1975.  His instruments typically utilize commonly available materials, are sculptural in appearance, utilize contact microphones for amplification, and are designed specifically for improvisation with elements of ambiguity, unpredictability and nonlinearity.  For this performance Tom's instruments will be played by Ed Herrmann, Jason Adasiewicz, Adam Vida, and Sam Hertz.


Jacques Demierre and Vincent Barras

>>Saturday, April 23rd at 8PM

In this performance, visiting artists Demierre and Barras take verbal talk as a primary component, drawn from materials found in the work of linguist Ferdinand de Saussure on various ancient and modern languages. The the sonorities of these languages are analyzed, re-elaborated and re-composed, and finally embodied in a score-text. The two artists then take the score to the stage, in a unique language performance. The body is the tool of vocal investigation, used to dig into the primitive sound matter of language.

Jacques Demierre is a pianist, performer and composer from Geneva. His musical and sound work takes various directions: improvised music, contemporary music, sound poetry, sound installation. His compositions and sound realizations are concerned with the activity of listening and with sound space, and develop a very cross and interdisciplinary conception of music.

Vincent Barras is a performer, historian and translator from Geneva. He teaches history of medicine at the University of Lausanne and sound, history of the body at the High Schools of Art and Applied Art in Geneva. He is member of Contrechamps Editions in Geneva and programmer of sound poetry and art language festivals (La Bâtie Festival and Roaratorio in Geneva). He has published various books, essays and articles on body theory, medicine and psychiatry, contemporary poetry and music.

Made possible by generous financial support from Pro Helvetia, the City of Geneva and the Republic and Canton of Geneva.



Kathleen Baird, Taralie Peterson, and Michael Zerang

>>Saturday, April 2nd at 8PM 

--Kathleen Baird: vocals, spike fiddle, acoustic guitar, mbira, slide guitar, harmonium, electric guitar, organ, xylophone, percussion, drums, banjo

--Taralie Peterson: vocals, slide guitar, lap harp, bowed banjo, spike fiddle, cello, banjo, mbira, zither, electric guitar

--Michael Zerang: multiple percussion, zither

Multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Kathleen Baird and Taralie Peterson are collectively know as Spires That In The Sunset Rise, an otherworldly free-folk band from Madison, WI by way of Chicago, IL. Spires' musical palette includes the spike fiddle, cello, bul bul tarang, various drums and bells, ecstatic yelps and cackles, and all manner of plectra. With their unconventional instrumentation and unique vocal technique, they will join forces with Chicago based composer / percussionist Michael Zerang for an evening of extended improvisations. 

Michael Zerang has been a professional musician, composer, and producer since 1976, focusing extensively on improvised music, free jazz, contemporary composition, puppet theater, experimental theater and international musical forms. He has collaborated extensively with contemporary theater, dance, and other multidisciplinary forms and has received three Joseph Jefferson Awards for Original Music Composition in Theater, in 1996, 1998, and 2000. He is also the founder and artistic director of the Links Hall Performance Series.

James Falzone presents "Sighs Too Deep For Words"

>>Saturday, March 19th at 8PM

For solo clarinet and ambient sounds

Being recorded for future release on Allos Documents Records

The work of composer and clarinetist James Falzone exists at the intersection of divergent streams. Equally at home in classical, jazz, improvised and various world music idioms, his career has garnered wide critical and peer respect for the way he traverses and connects these seemingly disparate paths. This performance will be recorded live for release on Allos Documents Records.



Ben Vida

>>Saturday, March 12th at 8PM 

Ben Vida is a composer, improviser and sound artist. In this new work Ben focuses on the control and cross-modulation that is communicated when analog and digital sound synthesizing systems intersect. It is in these moments, when the inner ear activating difference tones are punctured by analog exclamations, that a deeper spatialization is revealed and the listener’s aural perception is expanded.  Peter Margasak of the Chicago Reader calls Vida's synth music "an ear-tingling blast." Read the full review here. 


Jeff Parker 

>>Sunday, March 6th at 7PM 

Famous for his work in the band Tortoise, versatile guitarist Jeff Parker is an experimentalist in the truest sense, willing to explore and cross pollinate genres from hip hop to soul-jazz to electronic to chamber music. This Live in Studio A performance is a unique chance to hear Jeff in an intimate setting.




Joshua Abrams Natural Information Society

>>Saturday, February 26th at 8PM

Bassist and composer Joshua Abrams has been in the thick of Chicago's vibrant music scene for over fifteen years, playing and recording as leader and sideman in projects across the genres. In 2010 he released the "Natural Information" on Eremite which the New York Times called "one of the rough gems of the post-everything musical era" and the Wire picked as one of the top 50 records of 2010 He recently completed his first soundtrack for "The Interrupters" a new movie by Steve James which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.




Fall 2011:

ESS presents "Laughter and Tears" at Pritzker Pavilion -- a large-scale multi-channel sound installation mixed by Lou Mallozzi.  More details coming soon.



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