Chicago, IL – On May 13 and 14, Constellation Men’s Ensemble (CME) will perform the
world premiere of Robert Maggio’s “Man Up/Man Down,” a 27-minute choral score
dissecting masculinity in America, drawn from real-life examples. The work will be the centerpiece in an evening of world-premiere music for tenor and bass voices exploring ideas of the human experience today: how we relate to one another, the masks we wear, and the lines that connect and divide our most vulnerable selves.
Composer Maggio crowdsourced definitions of masculinity both current and desired from hundreds of Americans and used their responses to form a portion of the score text. He says the responses were a mix of surprising, poignant, and hopeful. His favorite: “I can be a high-heeled, tattooed, glitter bombed, wig-wearing defiance of Dads gone-by.” Maggio describes composing the score as an “engaging” and “intense” process. “I found the subject matter so compelling, and the individual texts spoke to me on such a deep level,” he says. CME Executive Director and Tenor Ryan Townsend Strand is hopeful that the audience,
too, will be drawn into the score on a personal level.
“Through music, we want to open a door for new conversations focused on examining
the young men in our lives, and questioning how best to bring up a new generation of
compassionate and emotionally available humans,” Strand explains.
In addition to the Maggio premiere, CME will perform world premieres by Ephraim
Champion, Jeffrey Derus, Leo Discenza, and Kari Watson.
A portion of concert proceeds will benefit Chicago nonprofit Center on Halsted, which is
dedicated to building and strengthening community and assuring the health and
wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people. More than 1,000 Chicagoans visit the center each day.
Center on Halsted CEO Modesto Tico Valle says the concert’s theme of “humanhood” is
central to his nonprofit’s mission.
“It’s important that we raise all voices up and that we create safe spaces here at the
center because we are all human first,” Valle says. “So many males have been
stereotyped and raised to never shed a tear and I think we need to raise a new
generation of caring, loving human beings. I think masculinity needs to be defined as
someone who is humble and gentle and embracing, and who goes outside of their
comfort zone to be inclusive and caring and loving.”
Constellation Men’s Ensemble is an award-winning vocal ensemble committed to
programming distinct concert experiences in the Chicagoland area. This will be its
fifth-annual NOVA concert series, NOVA standing for New Original Vocal Art.
WHEN & WHERE:
Friday, May 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Guarneri Hall – Chicago
Saturday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Guarneri Hall – Chicago
*Livestream online available for both concerts*
Suggested donation of $25. Purchase tickets at constellationensemble.org.
Constellation Men’s Ensemble
ABOUT CONSTELLATION MEN’S ENSEMBLE
Constellation Men’s Ensemble is a Chicago-based vocal group dedicated to creating
distinct performances in unique spaces, empowering the next generation of singers
through educational engagement, and expanding the repertoire for men’s vocal music
by commissioning new works from both emerging and established composers. CME
won the American Prize for Choral Performance in 2019.