Celebrating Chicago’s Waterways

Join us for a staged art song concert that draws inspiration from the land and water that Chicago is built on, featuring an ensemble of five singers, piano and violin.  CFO welcomes Kirsten C. Kunkle, soprano, and citizen of the Mvskoke (Muscogee Creek) Nation, to perform several art songs set to the poetry of her own Native ancestor, Alex Posey, as well as songs that honor the Indigenous tribes of Chicago.

The show also explores the legacy of Jean-Baptiste Point DuSable, the first permanent non-Indigenous settler of the city of Chicago; a Black man who built his house and trading settlement at the mouth of the Chicago river in 1790.  The concert tracks the rise of industrialism in Chicago’s waterways during the 1800s; the reshaping of the city’s waterfront following the Great Chicago Fire; and ushers in the 1900’s with songs of the Great Migration, as Black Americans follow the Mississippi River up to Chicago in search of financial opportunity and social progress.

The event concludes with songs that reflect on our current time, calling audiences to connect with Chicago’s vibrant landscape, the rewilding movement, and conservation efforts that nurture our home for generations to come.

The program repertoire includes works by Indigenous composers Kirsten Kunkle, Ian Cusson, and Andrew Balfour; Haitian composer Justin Elie; gems by prominent African-American composers Florence Price, Margaret Bonds, Harry T. Burleigh, and H. Leslie Adams; settings of American folk songs by Steven Mark Kohn; as well as works from the catalog of Chicago composers Stacy Garrop, John Alden Carpenter, Eric Malmquist, and Ernst Bacon.

Performances will be held at
The Edge Theater 
5451 N Broadway, Chicago



Hillary Esqueda
Jonathan Zeng
Ethan Valentin

Artistic Team

Music Director
Mark Bilyeu
Stage Director
Ross Matsuda
Dramaturg, Composer
Kirsten C. Kunkle
Creative Consultant
Bridget Skaggs
Creative Consultant
Catherine O'Shaughnessy
Lighting Designer
Brenden Marble
Projection Designer
Patrick Starner
Stage Manager
Shelby Krarup
Production Manager
George Cederquist
Featured Nature Photos
Sara Strother
Supported by The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, & the Illinois Arts Council Agency. Chicago Fringe Opera is an Opera America Partner.