Time Out Chicago

Sherwood/PianoForteBryant Manning

He’s a California native residing in Manhattan, but Fifth House Ensemble pianist Adam Marks, 30, is eager to move to the heartland, and not just to lose the massive commute. “Big things are happening for us,” he says of his bold Chicago-based ensemble that turned four years old in February. Marks, who will finish his Ph.D. in piano performance at NYU this summer, wants to devote more time to the group, and with 40 percent financial growth over the past year, plans to design Fifth House’s own ten-week university course and an upcoming collaboration with graphic novelist Ezra Clayton Daniels, he has no choice.

On Friday 8 and Saturday 9, Fifth House performs two whirlwind concerts sponsored by the PianoForte Foundation, featuring works from the eccentric composer JacobTV (Jacob Ter Veldhuis). Don’t let the wacky title of the Dutchman’s piano trio, Nivea Hair Care Styling Mousse, blind you to its musical sophistication. Marks observes that the five-movement piece, whose random title stems from the composer’s love of pop culture, “emphasizes the immediate and extreme transitions” between movements that are both rock-inspired and traditionally chamber-sounding.

Elsewhere in the program, JacobTV’s most famous solo piano work, The Body of Your Dreams, pits pianist and boom box together with the latter spitting out clips from an inane Abtronic Pro infomercial. JacobTV has spent a career obsessing over the gratify-me-now commercialization of American culture, and this is his life work’s exemplar.

Always looking to include a visual bonus, Fifth House will roll a slide show of bulked-up models by ensemble bassist and professional photographer Eric Snoza. Throw in Schoenberg’s intense Chamber Symphony and Bartók’s folky Contrasts, and Fifth House is already exceeding its ’08 chamber concerts, which we elected as Chicago’s best of the year.

View the original article on Time Out Chicago's website. Fifth House Ensemble