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"…a stretched string is a thing of beauty…"
Harry Partch


Arcomusical is back and ready to start 2021 with some joyful new music! On Thursday, February 25th, at 2PM CST, we invite you to join us for an hour-long concert of six world premieres. Since May 2020, Arcomusical has been working slowly and steadily with a group of wonderful student and faculty composers at the University of California-Davis. The result is a set of six brand new works for Arcomusical like nothing we’ve ever before played. These works have stretched our minds and spirits to reconsider what is “possible” for our instrument and our ensemble, and we are sincerely grateful for it.

Please mark your calendars and plan to join us for our first major event of 2021, and check out brand new music by these talented musical voices:

Orkun Akyol
Jacob Lane
Joe Peterson
Sarah Wald
Juan Diego Diaz Menezes
Paul Engle


UC-Davis Composers (clockwise from top left): Orkun Akyol, Jacob Lane, Joseph Peterson, Sarah Wald, Juan Diego Diaz, Paul Engle.
2020 in the Rearview Mirror…

Like all performing arts organizations, Arcomusical was severely impacted by the pandemic’s omnipotent shadow. Although that shadow’s reach is clearly planning to extend well into 2021, we are determined to realize the points of light that are in our near- and long-term future. In this newsletter, we want to tell the story of what 2020 meant to us, elucidating a set of the year’s highlights.

Last Performance now one year ago…

Our last in-person performance was on February 2, 2020…a bright, crisp, snow-laden afternoon at the Cherry Valley Public Library’s community gathering space. Ethan Martin, Tony Cable, and Gregory Beyer performed solos, duos, and trios for a full, attentive, and warm community of music lovers that gather for the wonderful arts series that the library hosts monthly. As at all of our performances pre-pandemic, we followed our hour-long performance with another 30-minutes or more of hands-on experimentation for audience members to try their hand at playing a berimbau, asking questions that led to engaging conversations, and more.

Solo, duo, and trio performance at the Cherry Valley Public Library with audience participation after the show!
Chamber Music America Residency Partnership Program Recipients!

On a bright note, toward the end of 2019 we partnered with DePauw University and were selected to receive a Chamber Music America Residency Partnership Program grant to develop a community engagement residency program that would have unfolded in October 2020!

Although our plans, like all of our other performance plans since March 2020 were postponed due to the pandemic, we are planning to realize those plans in the second half of 2021.

Emigre & Exile - Arcomusical's Third Album!

Despite the pandemic, our major plan for 2020 has been the recording of our third album together, “Emigre & Exile,” featuring Matt Ulery’s epic six-movement work of the same name. Despite the setbacks of the pandemic, we continued to gather virtually almost weekly for rehearsals that we conducted by submitting recordings of our individual parts and assembling them in a digital audio workstation for subsequent group discussion. While this was no substitute for in-person rehearsals, it allowed each individual member to prepare their parts and keep their focus on the music to be recorded. Mid-year, Gregory Beyer transformed a portion of his living space into a beautiful live room for recording, and Beyer became both engineer and producer for the album, inviting each member of the ensemble one at a time to track their parts.

Excitingly, this album will feature the timbres of other instruments beyond the berimbau. Matt Ulery’s bass adds an extra layer of depth to his nearly 26-minute composition, and Gregory Beyer’s latest composition, “fios e linhas” is a solo berimbau feature supported by keyboard percussion quartet.

Top Row: Elena Ross in session, the live room, Greg and Matt Ulery at days' end!
Middle: Raychel Taylor in session.
Bottom Row: Ethan Martin in session, the control desk, Matt Ulery in session. 

This past year we lost our in-house designer of Arcomusical caxixi. That challenge became a special opportunity to create a fair-trade partnership with one of our oldest mentors and contacts in Brazil, Mestre Valmir Damasceno of FICA-Bahia. Mestre Valmir is respected worldwide as one of the greatest practitioners of capoeira Angola and one of its foremost musicians and berimbau and caxixi luthiers. We turned to Mestre Valmir to request a set of caxixi and baquetas and decided to pay him exactly what we had been paying Dan Eastwood. Given the currency exchange at the moment, this opportunity served not just to find a new source of excellent instruments for Arcomusical and our customers, but to provide very real financial support for Mestre Valmir. Sadly, the pandemic in Brazil has been just as bad as the United States and in some ways worse in Brazil. The impact of inept and despotic leadership is sadly profound. Given the inability for capoeiristas to safely practice their craft due to the pandemic, Mestre Valmir lost his cherished space on the fifth floor of the Ester Moura Franco Building on Rua Carlos Gomes in Salvador. It was a space that Mestre Valmir had cultivated well over two decades. I remember first meeting him and visiting his space in 1999 when I first travelled to Brazil for research.

So, if you are looking for new baquetas and caxixi, look no further! Please visit our online store to purchase Mestre Valmir’s baquetas and caxixi. His instrument building business name is GungaOgum, the merging of two names: gunga (the name of the lowest and largest berimbau) and Ogum, the name of Mestre Valmir’s guiding spirit, the Candomblé Orixá, the Yoruban god of iron and of battle. These are strong instruments, superbly built and with an excellent capacity for sound. Arcomusical is proud to feature GungaOgum caxixi and baquetas and to support a wonderful friend and mentor.

Viva Mestre Valmir! Viva!

The most beautiful collection of caxixi and baquetas, made by the master, Mestre Valmir.
Greg and Mestre Valmir playing berimbau together in the FICA-Bahia space on Rua Carlos Gomes.
Check out our website for caxixi and baquetas made by Gungaogum!

There is simply too much to include about 2020 in a single newsletter, so this is volume one. We'll add to our story, looking both to the recent past as well as the future, as 2021 continues to unfold!

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Thank you for reading!

Copyright © 2021 Arcomusical, All rights reserved.

3925 South Pointe Dr Unit F
DeKalb, IL 60115

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Arcomusical · 3925 South Pointe Dr Unit F · DeKalb, IL 60115 · USA

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