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through music, poetry, performance, and observation
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|Welcome to the January-February 2021 issue of NON:onLINE!
Crossing the Threshold
by NON:op founder Christophe Preissing
We’ve crossed 2021’s threshold,
we’ve inaugurated a new president, and we are starting to get
vaccinated, yet we still have so much work to do. January 6th’s coup
attempt—laid bare the United States' foundation of systemic racism that
we are far from dismantling. Our country's collective denial that this
racism exists has only enabled a narcissistic EX-president and his
sycophants to viciously attack our nation's Capital and our fairly
elected representatives. Appeasement does not work with those who would
commit such acts of sedition. We must guard the hard-won advancements
made by the civil rights movement of the 60s and 70s. And we must
support today's Movement for Black Lives. It is everyone's
responsibility to join efforts to dismantle systems that perpetuate
fascism, tyranny, racism, oppression.
As an organization, NON:op Open Opera Works has refocused its mission and vision
around facilitating radical access, experimentation, and creativity
across communities while working collectively towards a more just
society. To that end, we have organized our programming around the
following three initiatives:
NON:op will be a partner
AGAINST racism and anti-Black violence.
- Unheard Voices.
The Memory Project initiative provides opportunities for meaningful
participation in the creative process from all who care to
participate—in particular those whose voices have not been heard.
Individual programs include Blood Lines, SAY THEIR NAMES, American
Biography, L’s GA : Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and The Gas Heart.
- Individual and Community Experiences.
Our self-guided and community-based sound projects—annual Aural
Neighborhoods community partnership with Open House Chicago and HEAR
BELOW pedway soundwalk, and our statewide Viral Silence: Community
Portraits in Response to COVID-19 project—create long-term partnership
and collaborative opportunities for artists and organizations to work
together to create meaningful and sustainable impact within their
- Artist Commissions.
By commissioning artists of color and artists with disabilities, we
provide economic opportunities for two groups of artists who have been
historically marginalized, and hardest hit by the pandemic. In 2021 we
are commissioning five artists/teams to create work for Viral Silence
and L’s GA.
will be a partner AGAINST racism and anti-Black violence. We will
continue to address the white settler-colonial foundations in our
programming and in all our internal organizational practices as part of
the aim to confront the United States' history of racism and hypocrisy
to create an alternative future.
Please join us.
• • •
To make a donation to NON:op Open Opera Works, visit the SUPPORT page on our website.
To find out more about our program initiatives and how to participate,
please visit our website.
[ SHARE ] HEAR BELOW: My Pedway Soundwalk is coming in March!
For a third consecutive year, NON:op Open Opera Works and Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology
team up to offer HEAR BELOW: a subterranean, site-specific soundwalk
through Chicago’s Pedway system. This year’s COVID-conscious,
self-guided installment of HEAR BELOW, titled “My Pedway Soundwalk”
invites participants to rediscover the act of listening and to share
their experiences using audio, video, still images and text.
What do you hear? My Pedway Soundwalk
invites YOU to discover what listening means to you in these unusual
sonic spaces and to share your experiences with us. My Pedway Soundwalk
will provide simple tools and inspiration to create your own soundwalk,
as well as a platform for sharing your experience. In addition, you can
share your personal soundwalk in real time, live streaming it to the
world on March 20-21 with custom hardware and software tools designed
specifically for HEAR BELOW.
[ INTERACT ] Viral Silence: Community Portraits in Response to COVID-19 – NEW ARTIST COMMISSIONING PROJECT!
is a statewide commissioning and virtual touring program that captures
community experiences and responses to COVID-19. Three commissioned
Illinois artists/teams will collaborate with their communities to create
and present sound compositions and workshops in venues in the three
communities. Virtual audiences will be able to experience each artwork
where it was created, via accessible, simultaneous streaming. Artists
were commissioned in fall 2020, the project kickoff meeting was in
January 2021 and commissioned artists will work with their communities
from February through May, with all three projects presented in June.
The result will be three collaborative processes and compelling
community portraits that will help to heal and bind communities around
memory, loss and rediscovery.
Creative artists and the cultural sector have been especially adversely affected economically by the pandemic. Viral Silence
strives to address the needs of these accomplished individual artists
and offer hope and support to a wide and diverse audience of viewers who
mourn the closure of cultural and performance institutions. The
project’s collaborative creative processes will help to heal and bind
communities around these participatory artworks, and voices, sounds,
communities, and ideas lost to the pandemic will be given new presence
commissions audio works from three sound artists from different regions
of Illinois. Three socially distanced local presentations will be
simultaneously streamed to create a virtual tour so off-site audiences
can experience each artwork within the environment where it was created.
Artists will collect materials within their community, including
recorded and live music, soundscapes, interviews, poetry, etc. and
create original sound/performance works designed to convey the local,
collective response to COVID-19. The result will be three collaborative
works that will help to heal and bind communities around memory, loss
artists are (left to right): Allen Moore, with the Auburn Gresham 21st
Ward, Block Club 21 Community Garden; Expressive Resonance (Ja Nelle
Davenport Pleasure and Keith Moore), with Champaign County youth and the
Urbana Independent Media Center; and Honna Veerkamp and Jay Needham,
with Carbondale Community Arts. Experimental Sound Studio will provide
technical and streaming support.
• • •
To find out more about Viral Silence, the commissioned artists,
and their projects, please visit the Viral Silence page.
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
Donations made to NON:op in 2021 will support this exciting new program.
[ UPDATE ] SAY THEIR NAMES - Research Project Kickoff!
NON:op is excited to share news on the SAY THEIR NAMES
project! Beginning in January, lead researcher, Ronald (Ron) Browne, is
now being supported by a team of four research assistants. The team
includes NEIU interns Nozanin “Noza” Farrukhzoda and Robert (Rob)
Strzok, and community volunteers Safira Newton-Matza and Omid Nolley.
(pictured below from left to right)
born in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and moved to the United States at the age
of 13, is majoring in Psychology and Pre-Physician’s Assistant (PA) at
Northeastern Illinois University. Rob, who is majoring in geography and
environmental studies with a primary focus on planning and development
at NEIU, is working with NON:op’s Christophe Preissing under the
guidance of Associate Professor and GIS Coordinator, Ting Liu, to create
the interactive map and timeline for SAY THEIR NAMES.
Safira is an Oak Park native and recent graduate from the American
University of Paris with a BA in History with a passion for working with
not-for-profit organizations, balancing historical perspectives and
human rights advocacy. Omid is an activist and organizer with a
background in social work. He has devoted his life to advocacy for
marginalized populations and raising awareness of social and economic
Lead researcher and field supervisor (below left), Ronald Browne,
is a retired teacher, reading specialist, and curriculum coach with
Chicago Public Schools. A member of the Chicago Baha’i Community serving
on its Local Spiritual Assembly, Ron is also president of the North
Beverly Civic Association, a community action organization, and
coordinator of the International Human Relations Council, an interfaith,
intercultural social action organization on Chicago's Southwest Side.
The remaining SAY THEIR NAMES
team members (above left to right) include Saba Ayman-Nolley, Project
Coordinator and NEIU Academic Supervisor to the research team, Ting Liu,
NEIU Academic Supervisor for the web development team, and Christophe
Preissing, map/timeline field supervisor responsible for coordinating
the research and web teams on data visualization and implementation of a
user-friendly interface for STN’s interactive map and timeline.
NON:op welcomes all of the researchers and support staff to the NON:op family and thanks them for their work on the SAY THEIR NAMES
project. This set of researchers will work with Ron through the first
week of June. At that time, we hope to demonstrate a proof-of-concept
version of the map and timeline, in order to generate additional
interest and funding for this important work.
• • •
you would like to contribute names or other information to the database
or to assist with this important research, please contact Ron at RonaldBrowne [at] nonopera [dot] org. If you would like to support SAY THEIR NAMES with a donation, please contact Christophe at non [at] nonopera [dot] org.
For more information, please visit the SAY THEIR NAMES project page on our website.
[ UPDATE ] L's GA : Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
Meet our new commissioned artist, A.J. McClenon!
Congratulations to our newest L's GA commissioned artist, A.J. McClenon!
and raised in “DC proper,” A.J. McClenon studied art and creative
writing at the University of Maryland and The New School prior to
receiving a Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of
Chicago in 2014. Alongside artistic experiences, AJ is passionate about
teaching and community collaborations with that goal that all the
memories and histories that are said to have “too many Black people,”
are told and retold again. As a means to uphold these stories AJ creates
performances, installations, objects, sounds, visuals, and writings.
These creations often revolve around an interest in water and aquatic
life, escapism, Blackness, science, grief, US history, and the global
future. AJ is deeply invested in leveling the hierarchies of truth and
using personal narrative to speak on political and cultural amnesia and
In thinking about the 87 years that Lincoln speaks of I began to think
of time travel and going back to 1776 and then to 1689 but also going
forward from 1863 to 1950 and 2037. With 1863 as a center point sounds
would explore histories such as the development of the hydrogen bomb
(1950), the victories of the Wabanaki people (1689), the coal miner’s
strike, Walt Disney’s release of Cinderella (1950), Freedom newspaper
publications (1950), text from “The Counter Revolution of 1776: Slave
Resistance and the Origins of the United States.”
I move into 2037, I will consider sounds of the future with regard to
actions of abolishment and questioning whether modern forms of US
slavery—such as the prison industrial complex—can be abolished in a
system that depends on free labor. I will also explore the cyclical
pattern of land theft and genocide, looking back at the mass genocide of
Indigenous people and the continuation of land theft through
will be articulated with the use of live acoustic and electronically
distorted harmonica sounds, historical footage and readings from
newspaper clippings, prison work songs (sung live or pulled from older
recordings), interviews and music sounds of the future.
To find out more about L's GA : Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, and to view responses and
visit the archives, please visit the L's GA page on our website.
[ OPPORTUNITY ] Apply for an L's GA Commission
NON:op is commissioning new (re)compositions in response to Sal Martirano's L's GA and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The deadline for submitting a proposal is March 1. To find out more and apply for a NON:op commission, visit the L’s GA Commission page. Commission will be announced in mid-March and completed works are due by June 1. Please contact non [at] nonopera [dot] org for more information.
a single frame from Ronald Nameth's three-film composite for Martirano's L’s GA
NON [ NEWS ]
Welcome Our New Community Volunteers and Interns!
In addition to our SAY THEIR NAMES interns and volunteers (see above) we are thrilled to acknowledge and welcome the following individuals to the NON:op family:
Thomas Kernan, L’s GA consultant
Thomas J. Kernan is Associate Professor of Music History at Roosevelt
University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts and is both a Lincoln
scholar and a scholar of American music. Tom’s research has earned him
awards from the Abraham Lincoln Association and Abraham Lincoln
Institute, and a Rudolph Ganz Long-Term Fellowship from the Newberry
Library. Tom came to NON:op with the idea for the L’s GA project in
August of 2020, and he continues to stay engaged as a consultant,
research advisor, and writer. During the Spring 2021 semester he will
teach Martirano’s classic work to both undergraduate students in a
Western art music survey and graduate students in a seminar examining
Susie Renihan, L’s GA editor
Susannah Renihan is a graduate student in the Chicago College of
Performing Arts at Roosevelt University currently completing an MM in
Vocal Performance. She is a Graduate Assistant for Music History
assisting Professor Tom Kernan with the L’s GA project. Her
research interests are in the music of Charles Ives and folksong,
specifically the relationship between his compositions and identity.
Susannah’s work often encompasses editing, writing, reading, grading,
and working with students and faculty one-on-one. She hopes to continue
her studies in Vocal Pedagogy and Musicology with a DMA in the future.
Safira Newton, social media assistant
In addition to her research work on SAY THEIR NAMES, Safira is assisting Jahan Nolley with NON:op’s social media presence and email efforts. Thank you, Safira!
• • •
Thank You to Our Funders
Robert H. and Terri L. Cohn Family Foundation!
For the second year in a row, NON:op Open Opera Works has received significant support from the Robert H. and Terri L. Cohn Family Foundation.
We thank them for their generous donation during these difficult times.
Because of funders like the Cohn Family Foundation, NON:op can continue
to produce engaging, participatory, online experiences that expand the
meaning of arts and humanities and provide opportunities for all persons
to participate in the arts.
Illinois Arts Council Agency
A big thank you to the Illinois Arts Council Agency for
their support of our Viral Silence: Community Portraits in Response to
Covid-19 project with an Arts Tour project support grant. Arts Tour
funding will pay three artists/teams to create and present work in
partnership with local communities in Auburn Gresham, Urbana, and
Carbondale Illinois. The virtual tour will take place in all three
locations during the month of June. To find out more about this exciting
new project, please visit the Viral Silence page on our website.
• • •
Part Time Opportunity
Administrative Assistant –
NON:op is seeking an administrative assistant who will work closely
with the artistic director and board to implement NON:op’s vision. The
ideal candidate will be able to clearly communicate and articulate our
program messaging through our digital channels including Word Press and
MailChimp. The administrative assistant will also be responsible for
maintaining and updating our WordPress website, and be skilled with
image editing software and basic html coding. Excellent organization
skills, a willingness to take direction, and the ability to contribute
original ideas and content are critical. Please contact Christophe non [at] nonopera [dot] org.
• • •
Board and Artist Opportunities
Do you support NON:op's mission? Do you enjoy immersive performances
that are fun AND intellectually challenging? Want to become more
involved? Join our board and artist team as we build a more diverse and
nimble organization to respond to these critical times. Please contact
Christophe at non [at] nonopera [dot] org for more information.
• • •
SUPPORT NON:op by purchasing HPSCHD@50 merch!
Also available are Musicircus T-Shirts, John Cage CDs, HPSCHD@50 buttons, and souvenir programs.
Click here to order and support NON:op and its artists.
Thank you for taking care of each other by staying indoors and practicing social distancing.
We hope you and yours are well and staying safe as we work to create an alternative future.
SHARE. INTERACT. COLLABORATE.
Christophe, Ann, Bill, Yolanda, Theo, Saba, Joshua, and all of NON:op's creatives, volunteers, and interns
NON:op is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Please consider supporting NON:op's program initiatives, creatives, and mission with a donation today.
All donations are tax deductible according to federal guidelines. Thank you.