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New work: Stories of the Bloomingdale Trail, premiering at Chicago Stories Book Two

Last winter I was commissioned by the Bach and Beethoven Experience to write new music for early-music instrumentation. It’s been a real joy to work with the musicians of this fantastic ensemble and to learn about their fascinating instruments and to try to adapt my idiom to their language.
The resulting 5 pieces comprise Stories of the Bloomingdale Trail, and are being premiered as part of BBE’s Chicago Stories Book Two together with exciting new work by Regina Baiocchi and Kurt Westerberg.

There are two chances to hear this music for free through Nights Out in the Parks!

Loyola Park // September 29 @ 6:30 PM

Armour Square Park // October 6 @ 6:30 PM

And one chance to see it… for not-free!

The Den Theatre
1331 N Milwaukee Ave.
October 7 // 7:00PM

tickets available here

Happy Autumn!
Ronnie

ESCARGATOIRE at Moe’s Tavern with Merel and Tony and Les Vikq, Friday July 13

Escargatoire can hardly wait to play this show with new friends from Texas, Merel & Tony, and our longtime hometown friends Les Vikq!

July 13th @ Moe’s Tavern with Merel & Tony with The Woe Woe Woes and Les Vikq
2937 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
​showtime is 9:30pm
​$5, 21+

Mucca Pazza vs. Chicago Sinfonietta, Round II: Happily Ever After

So excited to make it to the first performance after working on this show for over a year and a half!!!

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In September 2014, absurdist marching band Mucca Pazza experienced a monumental – but glorious! – defeat at Orchestra Hall at the hands of the Chicago Sinfonietta. Together, they played Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and recounted the history of the French invasion of Russia; Mucca Pazza, in its role as Napoleon’s Grand Armée, was ultimately vanquished by the cold Russian winter. C’est la vie, c’est la guerre.

Much like Napoleon, Mucca Pazza remains undaunted, and they’re gearing up for a rematch with the Sinfonietta this May. The sparring ensembles will perform selections from Prokofiev’s gorgeous Romeo and Juliet, including Prokofiev’s original, rarely-performed, censored-by-Stalin happy ending!

In addition to the Prokofiev, the May performances will feature the premiere of a brand new orchestral arrangement of Mucca Pazza’s unreleased tune War of Amusements, (composed by Mucca Pazza percussionist Andy Deitrich and orchestrated by the group’s Artistic Director Ronnie Kuller), a joyfully ridiculous medley of celebrated endings from the standard orchestral repertoire, beautiful video work by Jim Newberry and Mark Comiskey, and a custom-painted matryoshka toy theater brought to life by puppeteer extraordinaire Diane Mair.

Praise + Punk: The Ending of All Endings performances:

Saturday, May 12, 2018, 8PM @ Wentz Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave Naperville, IL 60540
Monday, May 14, 2018, 7:30PM @ Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60604

Tickets and detailed program information can be found at the Chicago Sinfonietta website.

THE DRAG: a music video

From Unquenched: Music From Baudelaire In A Box Episode 9
Available at: theateroobleck.bandcamp.com
composed by Ronnie Kuller
translated by Mickle Maher
original poem “L’avertisseur” by Charles Baudelaire
Videography by Cat Jarboe. Additional editing and snake wrangling by Patrick Murray.
Snake images used with kind permission of Joseph Farah. See more of his beautiful reptile and amphibian photos at: www.reptilesofcolorado.com

Unquenched: Baudelaire In A Box Episode 9 will be performed in its entirety at 8pm on May 20th, 2017 at Township!

three new songs

Mister Tom Musick and I unveil three new songs this Thursday night at Weegee’s Lounge.

the king of rain

We recorded all of the excellent tunes from Theater Oobleck’s Baudelaire in a Box Episode 8: The King of Rain. You can pre-order here or come buy a CD in person at our Hideout Riverwalk Show on Monday, September 14th! Why not come on out and celebrate Rosh Hashanah in style?!

king of rain

featuring Emmy Bean, Sad Brad Smith, Chris Schoen, Troy Martin, Joey Spilberg, and myself

magical beasts

I had fun playing violin on a lo-fi living room recording of this gorgeous new tune by Magical Beasts. You can still pre-order their vinyl LP for 8 more days, I played piano on a few of the songs.

sit down waltz

We made a video for The Sit Down Waltz during my 3Arts Ragdale Residency Fellowship!

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Composer & Producer: Ronnie Kuller
Director: Chris Hefner
Dancers: Meghan Strell, Sharon Lanza, Donnell Williams, Vanessa Valliere
Music Performed by: Mucca Pazza
Photographed by: Andrew J Morgan
Choreographed by: Vanessa Valliere

Here’s a piece I wrote about the video for Belt Magazine:

My 3Arts Residency Fellowship at Ragdale was magical. I was living in a storybook, surrounded by friendly deer, indignant chipmunks, and the liquid trills of tree sparrows, with a composer’s studio of my own, and a meadow to frolic in, and all the time in every day just to write music… with the exception of one day: the day of this film shoot. On this day, I was in a producer’s panic: running around, coordinating cheerleaders, making sandwiches, babysitting, and watching my friends make a gorgeous piece of art as a response to a tune I’d written. 

We’d come up with the concept of filming in the Ragdale House almost as soon as we started talking about making this film, which was months before my residency, before I’d ever even seen the place. As soon as I arrived and saw how beautiful it was, I lost my mind a little bit. The wallpaper! That yellow and blue kitchen! And the sunroom, where I ended up doing much of my composing work. 

The entire week of the shoot, the forecast predicted rain, rain, and rain. Miraculously though, the precipitation on this particular Sunday manifested instead as a glorious fog that settled softly onto the wetlands behind the house, transforming it into a blanketed dreamscape. Not the kind of thing we could have planned for; it was a lucky fog.

I wish I’d figured out how to write something appropriate about how to me Vanessa’s choreography mirrors the dance of self-recrimination and the myriad spirals of self-doubt that accompany the artistic process. It’s a waltz of self-censorship, of doing it wrong, but doing it anyway.(And, just to be clear: the cheerleaders are doing it wrong. It’s “The Sit Down Waltz,” and they blithely stand atop chairs, twirling around.)

That’s one of the things that work so well about Ragdale – you’re in the company of all of these brilliant creative people making things, and all of them are just making it up! And everybody questions whether they made it up correctly, and revises, and revises again, and twirls around with the question of whether they’re actually frauds, and find a way to keep going and make the thing that only they can make. And the beautiful surroundings of the house comfort you while you’re waltzing with the existential questions and finding your way through your circular decision-making process. 

One last note: The Ragdale House is gorgeous and beautifully restored – but the walls are very thin. All of the artists in residence at the Ragdale House during the filming of this video were probably inconvenienced, and I’d like to thank each and every one of them for their understanding and forgiveness of all the commotion we caused.

MUCCA PAZZA ON TINY DESK

MUCCA PAZZA PLAYED A TINY DESK CONCERT

tiny desk awesome photo

Mucca Pazza on WNYC Soundcheck

 

Mucca Pazza played live at the WNYC studios, and Gary Kalar and I had to answer some tough questions with the benefit of a) very little sleep and b) 25 of our dear friends semi-silently watching us. Thanks John Schaefer for having us on and for being so fun to talk to!

http://soundcheck.wnyc.org/story/mucca-pazza-in-studio/