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News and Media

Oberlin Graduate Claire Chase Named a MacArthur Fellow

Oct. 06, 2012

Claire Chase
Claire Chase ’01, a 2012 MacArthur Fellow

OBERLIN, OHIO — Flutist and new-music trailblazer Claire Chase ’01 has been named a 2012 MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which carries a $500,000 award dispersed over the next five years. Commonly know as “genius grants,” the MacArthur Foundation’s annual awards support “exceptional merit and promise of continued creative work.”

Chase is a 2001 graduate of Oberlin Conservatory of Music. That year, she co-founded the revolutionary International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) in Chicago. As artistic director, Chase is redefining the concert environment and developing new audiences for contemporary classical music. In the changing economic climate, Chase is also intent on opening new avenues of artistic expression for the 21st–century musician, as well as providing students in public schools whose music programs have been cut with innovative music education programs.

Now celebrating its 10th season, ICE tours internationally and is currently Ensemble in Residence at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. With a flexible roster of 33 leading instrumentalists, the ensemble also presents series of concerts in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Boston. Over the last decade they have premiered over 500 works and released acclaimed albums on the Bridge, Naxos, Tzadik, and New Focus labels. This year they will perform more than 65 concerts in 10 states and five countries.

One of 23 MacArthur grant recipients this year, Chase states that she is “humbled and honored by this announcement.” She also spoke about how this fellowship can help expand and deepen the work she is already doing.

“I cannot accept this award without acknowledging the extraordinary Oberlin family that has been such an essential part of my life and community since I set foot on campus in 1996: my gifted Oberlin classmates and peers—many of whom are still my closest collaborators in ICE; and my inspired, irrepressibly generous Oberlin mentors and teachers—all of whom remain role models for me to this day."

She further says, “I am especially grateful for the support and guidance over the years of Dean Stull, Brian and Marci Alegant, Timothy Weiss, Gregory Fulkerson, and my beloved flute professors Michel Debost and Kathleen Chastain."

In offering congratulations, Oberlin Conservatory of Music Dean David H. Stull remarks, “Claire is an extraordinary inspiration and her work provides an innovative roadmap for artists who wish to create and perform music in any community. The evolution of the International Contemporary Ensemble has been tremendously impressive and I think Claire’s vision for changing the world of music is only at its beginning. There are many great things to come from her outstanding capacity to advance music and art at the highest level.”

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