About Chicago Q Ensemble
Praised by Chicago Classical Review for their “expressive, superbly communicative performances,” Chicago Q Ensemble is a string trio committed to challenging the traditional role of the performer, empowering the modern listener, and using the string trio medium as a springboard towards infinite creativity. Their dynamic TEDx talk, "Classical Music's Empowerment Problem," was presented at Rush University in 2014. In 2015, Symphony magazine featured the ensemble as an emerging leader in the field of interdisciplinary performance, recognizing their innovative work in reshaping the perception of what chamber music performance can be.
In 2014, the ensemble was selected as the inaugural ensemble of the American Music Project, giving a major recital of American music, including the world premiere of the foundation's first-ever commission. The ensemble has been presented in concert throughout Chicago, including recitals at the (Un)familiar Music Series, Constellation Chicago, Chicago Cultural Center, Poetry Foundation, Green Mill, Chopin Theater, Northwestern University, DePaul University, and the Music Institute of Chicago. They have been presented by the David Adler Music & Arts Series, Sounds of the South Loop, Chicago Home Theater Festival, Living Loop Festival, and Loops and Variations Series at Chicago's Pritzker Pavilion, among others.
The ensemble has premiered works by Brian Baxter, Seth Boustead, Amos Gillespie, Eric Malmquist, Matthew Pakulski, Kyle Vegter, Amy Wurtz, and award-winning jazz arranger Joe Clark. They have collaborated with artists of all backgrounds, including composer and video artist Patrick Liddell (aka Ontologist), shadow puppet company Manual Cinema, and actress Deirdre Harrison. They have released two studio albums, including the complete string quartets of Amy Wurtz and the music of FJORDS by Kyle Vegter.
Chicago Q Ensemble was the 2011 fellowship ensemble at the Worcester Chamber Music Society summer festival and was the ensemble in residence at the Gesher Festival of Emerging Artists in St. Louis in 2012.
Ellen McSweeney is a Chicago-based violinist, writer and songwriter. She is a founding member of Chicago Q Ensemble, a co-founder of the record label Parlour Tapes+, and the Chicago regional editor for NewMusicBox.
A dynamic and versatile chamber musician, Ellen has given countless premieres with Chicago Q Ensemble and is a member of the permanent roster of the International Chamber Artists. She has also performed with ensemble dal niente, Access Contemporary Music, Fonema Consort, Singers on New Ground, Homeroom Chicago, and the Four Score Festival of New Music. She has appeared on the DePaul Faculty Recital Series, the PianoForte Foundation Salon Series, WFMT, and on multiple series at the Chicago Cultural Center. Ellen recently served as acting principal second violin on Camerata Chicago‘s tour of Europe.
Ellen has been a national finalist in the MTNA Chamber Music Competition and has attended the Apple Hill, Killington, and Aspen Music Festivals. Before coming to Chicago, she lived in East Africa, serving on the faculty of the Umoja Arts Centre in Arusha, Tanzania. She is now on the faculty of the Music Institute of Chicago. Ellen holds a B.M. from the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University and an M.M. from DePaul University.
On her blog and at NewMusicBox, Ellen writes frequently about issues of gender, creativity, work-life balance, and healthy career development for musicians. She recently served as a guest lecturer for the Music Entrepreneurship course at Northern Illinois University. She is a winner of Vanderbilt’s Merrill Moore Award for Poetry Writing and the Vanderbilt Review prize for Best Fiction. Her writing recently appeared in the Playbill for the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center.
Aimee Biasiello is a dedicated performer and educator and a passionate advocate for the viola’s role in chamber music. Aimee is an in-demand chamber and orchestral musician, and also coordinates the chamber music program at Stevenson High School, which was recently named a National School of Distinction in Arts Education by the Kennedy Center. For the past six years, she has coached and mentored more than 100 students annually in the school’s three-month chamber music intensive, a program which has few peers in the Midwest.
Aimee’s passion for chamber music has lead to her play alongside members of the Boston-based QX Quartet and the Grammy Award nominated, Lincoln Trio as well as on the a.pe.ri.od.ic Experimental Music Series, the Music Institute of Chicago’s Faculty and Guest Artist series, the International Chamber Artist’s season, as well as on Chicago Radio Stations WBEZ and WFMT. Aimee has coached with members of the Cleveland, Vermeer, and Cavani Quartets, as well Mimi Zweig, at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. She is also a member of Camerata Chicago’s viola section, and has appeared with with the Green Bay Symphony, South Bend Symphony, Chicago Master Singers, and Ars Viva.
Aimee serves on chamber music and violin/viola faculty at the Music Institute of Chicago and holds degrees in Viola Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Chicago College of Performing Arts. Her principal teachers include Lynne Ramsey, Jeffrey Irvine, Roger Chase, and Desiree Ruhstrat.
Sara Sitzer, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, leads a varied life as an orchestral, chamber, and solo cellist. She has performed recitals all over the world, from the new Frank Gehry designed New World Center in Miami Beach to the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Her performing career has taken her to Israel, Japan, England, Australia, as well as throughout the United States.
Sara joined Chicago Q Ensemble in 2011 after completing a 3 year fellowship with the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida. She is a member of the Elgin Symphony and Firebird Chamber Orchestra (Miami, FL), and regularly performs with the Milwaukee Symphony, as well as Chicago ensembles Ensemble Dal Niente, New Millenium Orchestra, Anaphora and Camerata Chicago. Sara has had the opportunity to perform alongside the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra, as well as with the 2011 YouTube Symphony Orchestra in Sydney, Australia. Additionally, she travels to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia each summer to perform and to serve as cello and chamber music faculty at the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival. Other festivals she has attended include Tanglewood Music Center, Pacific Music Festival, and the Aspen Music Festival.
In 2011, Sara founded the Gesher Music Festival, a chamber music festival that builds multi-cultural bridges to the Jewish experience through the intimacy of chamber music. The festival has now enjoyed three successful seasons.
Sara holds a Master of Music Degree from the University of Wisconsin, where she attended on a Collins Fellowship. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from Boston University as a Trustee Scholar. Her principal teachers have included Uri Vardi, Michael Reynolds, Andres Diaz, Ken Kulosa and Glenda Piek.