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Fri, Jun 24


McLean County Museum of History

NON:op + pt.fwd present "Six Words"

Using archival research, community dialogue, and collaborative music-making, "Six Words" engages directly with Central Illinois residents, non-profits, and youth organizations to reflect on our collective experience of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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NON:op + pt.fwd present "Six Words"
NON:op + pt.fwd present "Six Words"

Time & Location

Jun 24, 2022, 7:00 PM CDT

McLean County Museum of History, 200 N Main St, Bloomington, IL 61701, USA

About the event

On Friday, June 24 at 7:00 p.m., NON:op Open Opera Works, pt.fwd, and the McLean County Museum of History are pleased to co-host the premier performance Six Words, a newly-commissioned musical work by Edward Breitweiser. The event will be presented at the Museum, and is free and open to the public.

Using archival research, community dialogue, and collaborative music-making, Six Words will engage directly with Central Illinois residents to reflect on our collective experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. Six Words will take the McLean County Museum of History’s COVID-19: The McLean County Experience as a starting point to ask local residents about their pandemic experiences, and to preserve them for future generations.

Breitweiser will collaborate with local non-profits and youth organizations—including the McLean county Museum of History and pt.fwd—to create a communal space for telling and hearing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Bloomington-Normal area. These diverse experiences will be shared in a concert-length public performance at the Museum of History, featuring music and words by area residents who contributed to the project.

The Museum continues to monitor the conditions that surround the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and how these conditions will impact our ability to hold future in-person programs. As long as current health and safety guidelines from the CDC and State of Illinois allow for in-person programming at that time, we plan to host this program in-person at the Museum. Please visit for updates on this and other upcoming programs.

Live stream available at: ESS on YouTube

All pt.fwd concerts are free and open to the public. pt.fwd is an independent non-profit program that organizes contemporary music and sonic arts performances in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois.

How Six Words Will Work

  • Community Input: On Saturday May 7, Breitweiser will facilitate a free public workshop in partnership with the McLean County Museum of History and local youth organizations. The workshop will leverage resources from The Museum’s “COVID-19: The McLean County Experience” project and will ask participants to write brief reflections on their pandemic experience. Together, the group will select six shared themes to unify their writings.
  • Synthesis: Following the workshop, Breitweiser will compile themes and writings as the foundation of a new musical work. During this time, Breitweiser will compose a concert-length piece inspired by the writings.
  • Public Performance: On Friday, June 24th at 7pm CST, Breitweiser will present a performance of Six Words in a free public concert at the McLean County Museum of History. This performance will include workshop participants, who will recite their writings to live music. The performance will be live-streamed via Experimental Sound Studio’s live-stream channel. Performance attendees will be encouraged to submit written responses to “COVID-19: The McLean County Experience”.

In conjunction with the performance, Breitweiser will participate in public discussions hosted by NON:op.

Following the June performance, Breitweiser will explore recording Six Words and releasing copies of the composition and accompanying texts. Workshop and performance materials will be donated to “COVID-19: The McLean County Experience”.

About the Artist

Edward Breitweiser is an artist, musician, and writer. Incorporating models from various intellectual traditions and bodies of knowledge, Breitweiser organizes particulars (custom software, handmade electronics, audio/visual signals, text, networked distribution channels, improvisational music, performative activities) into arrangements whose products are the macro-result of the emergent interactions of all components at once.

His works have been presented at Festival MusicAlp (Courchevel, France); Network Music Festival (Birmingham, UK); the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago); Illinois State University Galleries (Normal, IL); MobileHCI (Stockholm); Salle Cortot (Paris); threewalls (Chicago); the Giorgio Cini Foundation (Venice); Illinois Wesleyan University (Bloomington, IL); the Fuse Factory (Columbus); the McLean County Arts Center (Bloomington, IL); and Sixty Inches From Center (online). Breitweiser is the founder and Director of pt.fwd, a non-profit program that presents performances of contemporary music and sonic arts in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. Breitweiser studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA ‘12), l’École Normale de Musique de Paris (’08), and Elmhurst College (BFA ‘09).

About NON:op and Viral Silence

Six Words was commissioned by NON:op's program Viral Silence: Community Portraits in Response to COVID-19. Viral Silence is a statewide collaborative community commissioning and virtual touring program that captures local experiences and responses to COVID-19. This second year of programming partners three new artists and Illinois communities: JoVia Armstrong, composer and sound artist, with Chicago’s Austin neighborhood and Saint Martin's Episcopal Church; Edward Breitweiser with pt.fwd and the McLean County Museum of History; and X, an indigenous futurist, who will create a geolocated augmented reality soundscape app.

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 offers hope and support to a wide and diverse audience of viewers who mourn the closure of cultural and performance institutions. The project’s participatory processes and resulting portraits help to heal and bind communities around memory, loss, and rediscovery.

Viral Silence is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency and a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

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