University of Chicago

2016: Celebrating a Big Year

This was a wild ride of a year. I shot tons of fabulous music. Philip Glass signed my photo of Philip Glass playing Philip Glass.  I covered Kurt Elling in the studio and created his latest batch of publicity portraits. Spektral Quartet's album "Serious Business," which includes my cover photo, was nominated for a Grammy. I sat next to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for 15 seconds. I gazed at the Milky Way from the tiny island of Islesford, Maine. And right in the middle of it all, I presented my jazz photography portfolio at the American Embassy in Vienna, Austria.  Thanks to all of you for being a part of a wonderful 2016! Enjoy this gallery of a few of my favorites. 

Contempo Season Opener, October 27, 2015

The 51st season of the University of Chicago's Contempo series opened on October 27, 2015 with a program celebrating its recently retired artistic director, Shulamit Ran. The towering music was given probing and gutsy performances by U of C ensembles-in-residence Pacifica Quartet and eighth blackbird with mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley.  New artistic director Marta Ptaszyn'ska joined Ran on stage as longtime colleagues and friends.  

Photos © Copyright 2015 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved. 

Chicago Jazz: A Photographer's View - Sept 23-Oct 25, 2015

One of the major highlights of 2015 - three of my photos were selected for inclusion in "Chicago Jazz: A Photographer's View" at the University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts.  My pictures were featured alongside some terrific images from around the city, and I had a chance to meet some photographers I've long admired - Stan Lee, Jasmine Kwon, Mark Sheldon, Farrad Ali, and Jack Siegel.  Many thanks to Bill Michel and the Logan Center for a great show and fun evening.  Below, my images from the Green Mill and performance shots of saxophonist Bernard Scavella and drummer Greg Artry.  

Photos © Copyright 2015 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved. 

CAIC's Spring Lieder Lounge

Baritone John Brancy and pianist Peter Dugan gave one of the most beautiful and memorable recitals I've had the privilege to shoot. With poignancy and grace, Brancy and Dugan performed a program of World War I British composers against an evening backdrop from the 9th-floor penthouse at the University of Chicago's Logan Center, a venue perfectly suited for the intimacy of the music.  

All photos © Copyright 2015 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved.

Contempo: Big names, world premieres

Contempo always packs a heavy-hitting and heady mix of music.  This past Sunday seemed extra significant as Contempo gave the world premieres of works by Gunther Schuller and Sofia Gubaidulina - two giants in the world of contemporary composition who were also in attendance.  Add composer and Contempo artistic director Shulamit Ran, conductor Cliff Colnot, and U of C ensembles-in-residence Pacifica Quartet and eighth blackbird, and you've got some of the best in new music.  

Unlike traditional classical music forms, contemporary music is impossible to predict, making it uniquely challenging to photograph.  The usual strategy of waiting for the loud parts doesn't necessarily work since the loud parts may never come, or they come and go in an instant.  Here are some moments that I caught when the shutter sound was (hopefully) masked.  

Stefan Jackiw and Anna Polonsky at Mandel Hall

Back in Hyde Park for UChicago Presents on February 6, this time in Mandel Hall (no relation).  The recently renovated hall is now a brilliant space for intimate chamber music with great acoustics. Here is a gallery of shots from the concert with violinist Stefan Jackiw and pianist Anna Polonsky.

Contempo celebrates 50 years

The University of Chicago's Contempo series is celebrating its 50th year of contemporary classical music this season, and featuring its two ensembles-in-residence: eighth blackbird and the Pacifica Quartet.  Joining them on January 24 was soprano Sharon Harms, trumpeter Stephen Burns, conductor David Fulmer, and a host of players from Chicago's new music community.  It's always fun to photograph these expressive musicians, and I'm looking forward to more in March. 

On stage with Third Coast Percussion

Microphones, music stands, lights, cables, a thousand mallets.  Plus the instruments - some of them large (marimbas, drum kits, cymbals, a gong, a piano), and some of them found objects (pipes, empty whiskey bottles, a string of paperclips).  And the artists themselves: Rob, Pete, Sean, David, all with earpieces plugged in and playing in perfect syncopation.  Third Coast Percussion is a complete sensory experience.  A few weeks ago, they gave me free range on stage at the University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts during their dress rehearsal with one directive: get all four musicians in one frame.  The solution was a multiple exposure frame created in the camera; it also captured the organized chaos of instruments.  

Global Transcendence with Chicago a cappella

The light, the venue, the music - it was all perfect back on October 19 when I photographed Chicago a cappella at Rockefeller Chapel.  The program blended sacred and spiritual music from ancient vocal traditions, performed flawlessly by the ensemble of nine singers.  The late-afternoon autumn light streamed through Rockefeller's giant stained-glass windows; the crystal-clear singing filled the building, making an otherwise huge venue feel intimate, and, well, perfect.