NON:op's immersive platform for virtual performance and participation
volume 2:1

Please Join Us
as we investigate alternative futures
through music, poetry, performance, and observation


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table of contents

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Welcome to the January-February 2021 issue of NON:onLINE!
American Revolution
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 communities.
  • 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.
NON:op 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.

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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.
My Pedway Soundwalk will take place during the month of March. Materials will be available mid-February on the NON:op website and the MSAE website. Learn more at our HEAR BELOW page on our website, and revisit last year’s installment through a report by Newcity Stage editor Sharon Hoyer.

[ INTERACT ] Viral Silence: Community Portraits in Response to COVID-19 – NEW ARTIST COMMISSIONING PROJECT!

Viral Silence 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 and life.
Viral Silence 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 and rediscovery.
Allen MooreExpressive ResonanceHonna VeerkampJay Needham
Commissioned 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.

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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)
Rob StrzokSafiraOmid Nolley
Noza, 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 injustice.
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.
Ronald BrowneSaba Ayman-NolleyTing LiuChristophe Preissing
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.

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If 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!
AJ McClenon
Congratulations to our newest L's GA commissioned artist, A.J. McClenon!
Born 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 their absurdities.
Project Description
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.”
As 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 gentrification.
Sounds 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.

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[ 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


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 KernanThomas 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 performer discourse.
Susie RenihanSusie 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 NewtonSafira 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!

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Thank You to Our Funders
Robert H. and Terri L. Cohn Family Foundation!
Thank you!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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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.  
Copyright © 2021 NON:op Open Opera Works, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
NON:op Open Opera Works
2419 N Drake Ave, Floor 1
Chicago, IL 60647