The powerhouse mixed-chamber ensemble Latitude 49 is dedicated to exploring new sounds, engaging diverse audiences, and holding hands with composers of today. Equally at home in urban clubs, modern art museums, classrooms, and traditional concert halls, Latitude 49’s genre-bending approach blends the finesse of a classical ensemble with the drive and precision of a progressive rock band. Members come together from across Canada and the United States, epitomizing an unconventional family of sounds, instruments, and human experiences.
L49’s work with living composers is at the heart of its mission, yielding over sixty premieres since the group’s founding in 2012. The 2016 release of Latitude 49’s Curious Minds was hailed as an “impressive debut” (Peter Margasak, Bandcamp Daily) featuring a collection of six works described as a “tapestry ...of oft-dazzling hues” (Textura). The ensemble’s extended family of composers ranges from aspiring students to Pulitzer prize-winning masters including Jared Miller, Garrett Schumann, Shulamit Ran, Mark Kilstofte, Pascal Le Boeuf, Loren Loiacono, Marc Mellits, and Chen Yihan to name a few. The 2019-2020 season marks Latitude 49’s debut on New Amsterdam Records with the release of their sophomore album, Wax and Wire, featuring works by Sarah Kirkland Snider, Viet Cuong, Annika Socolofsky and L49’s own Chris Sies.
L49 is known for their vibrant, passionate onstage presence, which the group has brought to performances at the Bowling Green New Music Festival, Ravinia Festival, Chicago Cultural Center, Detroit’s Strange Beautiful Music, Constellation Chicago, the Detroit Institute of Art, and the Ear Taxi Festival in Chicago. Past seasons have seen a succession of specially curated programs, exploring themes through a weaving of music and multi-media: She celebrates the music of seven living women; Labyrinths explores mazes both ancient and modern, literal and imagined; Time Past and Time Present dives into the experiences and mechanisms of memory; This Might Hurt a Little takes a hard look at violence and its cultural permeation; and PLAY! is a playpen in concert form, blurring the lines between performers, composers, and audience members.
Latitude 49 has expanded to foster large-scale collaborations including Love Wounds, a fully-staged production presented in May 2019 with Chicago Fringe Opera, featuring new and established works by Christopher Cerrone during his 2017-2019 Composer Residency. Previous collaborations include performances at (le) Poisson Rouge and The Juilliard School with the Attacca Quartet and a community-focused partnership in Chicago with Chai Collaborative Ensemble to raise funds and awareness for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. L49 welcomes composer Juri Seo as Composer-In-Residence for the 2019-2021 seasons in addition to anticipated premieres of new works by Andrew McManus, Gity Razaz, and Evan Ware.
L49 carries its contagious energy beyond the concert hall, with extensive educational work throughout the country. Previous residencies include Baylor University, Princeton University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The Kenosha Creative Space in Wisconsin has become a frequent home in recent years, hosting the ensemble for multiple educational visits each season. The ensemble has also presented workshops on commissioning and entrepreneurship as part of residencies across the nation at the University of Tennessee Martin, the University of Western Kentucky, Elmhurst College (IL), SUNY Fredonia, and the University of Toledo (OH). Latitude 49’s name is inspired by the border that rests between Canada and the United States, representing a bridge between artists, composers and listeners of today.