Chicago Fringe Opera to Present ‘Chicago Currents: A Celebration of Chicago’

By David Salazar

Chicago Fringe Opera is set to present “Chicago Currents: A Celebration of Chicago” starting on March 19, 2023.

The production is a full-length, staged art song concert for five singers, piano, and violin. Audiences will hear soprano Kirsten C. Kunkle, who is also a composer and dramaturg for the work, soprano Dana Campbell, mezzo-soprano Bridget Skaggs, tenor Aaron Short, and baritone Keanon Kyles.

Ross Matsuda directs. Mark Bilyeu will perform at the piano with Catherine O’Shaughnessy as a creative consultant; Skaggs is also serving as a creative consultant on the project.

The program will feature music by Indigenous composers including Kunkle, Ian Cusson, and Andrew Balfour; Haitian composer Justin Elie; works by African-American composers Florence Price, Margaret Bonds, Harry T. Burleigh, and H Leslie Adams; settings of American folk songs by Steven Mark Kohn; and other songs by Chicago composers such as Stacy Garrop, John Alden Carpenter, and Ernst Bacon.

The performances aim to spotlight the legacy of Jean Baptiste Point Sable, the first non-Indigenous settler of Chicago, “a Black man who built his house and settlement at the mouth of the Chicago river in 1790.”

Chicago Fringe Opera will present the showcase for a total of four performances with the final one scheduled for March 25, 2023.