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New Black Music Repertory Ensemble

Founded in 1999, the New Black Music Repertory Ensemble (New BMRE) is the performance organization of the Center for Black Music Research at Chicago’s Columbia College. An ensemble of up to eighty professional musicians, the New BMRE’s mission is as ambitious as it is unique, drawing from the repertoire the Center’s three earlier ensembles: the nationally acclaimed Black Music Repertory Ensemble (1987–1996), which presented black music in the written tradition from the eighteenth century to the present; Ensemble Kalinda Chicago (1994–1998), which demonstrated the common origins and shared musical traits of Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Latin American music; and Ensemble Stop-Time (1998–2001), which demonstrated the gamut of twentieth-century Black American popular music, ranging from Negro spirituals to ragtime, gospel song, R&B, soul, rap, and all styles and periods of jazz from Jelly Roll Morton to the avant-garde stylings of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). The New Black Music Repertory Ensemble presents musical performances and lecture demonstrations that illustrate the vast range of music from the African diaspora.

The varied talents of its musicians provide authentic performances in many different styles, periods, and genres, and in groupings of instrumentalists and singers ranging from solos and duets to string quartets, woodwind quintets, and jazz ensembles of various sizes. This flexibility has resulted in concerts dedicated to the string quartet, solo vocal songs, compositions based on Negro spirituals, instrumental solos, and compositions based on jazz and blues. From 1998 until his death in March 2004, the New BMRE was under the artistic and musical direction of Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson. The New BMRE String Quartet is Ashley Horne and Rachel Handlin, violins; Reneé Baker, viola; and Edward Moore, cello.