Mr Chair looks like a jazz quartet, sounds sometimes like a rock group, but in actuality, is contemporary classical music in the guise of a modern band. Classically-trained musicians, well versed in jazz, Mr. Chair creates a new sound using both acoustic and electric instruments. Members include Ben Ferris, Mark Hetzler, Jason Kutz, and Mike Koszewski.
Their compositions are long-form journeys, telling stories through sound by using and exploring the three pillars of music: melody, harmony, and rhythm. Think cinematic, orchestral, surreal, romantic, emotional, gripping, and always equal parts dissonant and consonant. Their influences are far-reaching, from classical, blues, and rock, to soul, funk, jazz, and beyond. They perform from a library of original works, as well as their own arrangements of iconic pieces from Stravinsky to Bach.
Mr. Chair’s greatest quality is its growing list of collaborators. The list so far includes: singers, dancers, poets, scientists, research labs, visual artists, and more. Through collaboration with colleagues outside of the music realm, Mr. Chair discovers unordinary ways to connect with audiences. They often invite their colleagues to join them in performances, and they work to make every performance a special and unique event.
One notable collaboration is with UW-Madison Vilas Distinguished Professor of Geoscience Dr. Stephen Meyers and his tadada Scientific Lab in two performance lectures Beginnings and The Deep Groove). These fully integrated presentations took place in Dr. Meyers’ Geosci 100 course on the UW-Madison campus, featuring live performance, exhilarating videos, and the commissioning of new music from Mr. Chair. The experiment continues as Mr. Chair and Stephen Meyers bring these interdisciplinary events to clubs and to universities around the world.
Equally comfortable as educators, the members of Mr. Chair have conducted masterclasses with students from middle school to college on the topics of performance, composition, style, arranging, orchestration, interpretation, and the creative process.