Upcoming Premier of Show of Indian Music and Poetry

Chicago Folklore Ensemble’s new show, Gitanjali: Song Offerings, will premier on November 3, 2018, at Second Unitarian Church, 656 W Barry Ave., Chicago, at 7pm.

Gitanjali: Song Offerings is a two-hour show that takes audiences on a spiritual journey via the music and poetry of legendary Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore. In 1912, Tagore published a book of devotional poems called Gitanjali, and the work was so impactful in Europe that he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. However, Western readers of Tagore don’t always know that the poems in Gitanjali were originally lyrics of songs that Tagore composed, songs which are still known and beloved in Bengal today. Gitanjali: Song Offerings presents several poems from Gitanjali paired with the songs sung in the original Bengali, intertwining Tagore’s exquisite verses with the music that brings the poetry its full emotional resonance.

Tagore’s songs were taught to the instrumentalists in the ensemble by Subhajit Sengupta, the founder and lead singer of Chicago’s Bengali folk band Ochin Pakhi. In this show, vocals and narration by Subhajit Sengupta and Swarnali Banerjee, both originally from Kolkata, India, are accompanied by sweeping strings and accordion harmonies. Over the course of the show, the performers share personal experiences that illustrate the enduring power and relevance of Tagore’s creation.

Upcoming Shows This Spring

We will be performing our new show, Where Rivers Meet: Songs and Stories from Masters of Arabic Music, twice this June as part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks series! Both shows will be free and open to the public.

June 16, 2018, 2pm – Marquette Park, 6743 S Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL

June 22, 2018, 6pm – Gompers Park, 4222 W Foster Ave, Chicago, IL

We have a few other free performances of Where Rivers Meet this spring:

April 22, 2018, 2pm – abbreviated show at Oak Lawn Public Library, 9427 Raymond Ave, Oak Lawn, IL

April 28, 2018, 1:30pm – Manchester University, Wine Recital Hall, Winger Arts Building, Manchester, IN

Thanks to several generous small donations from our supporters, we will also be organizing additional free performances of Where Rivers Meet this summer, so stay tuned!

In addition, we have been continuing to perform our kids’ show, Follow the Butterfly, at various Chicago area public schools through our collaboration with Urban Gateways, and we have a few performances of Follow the Butterfly coming up:

April 20, 2018, 10am – Earth Day performance at Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL. Contact Old Town School for ticketing information.

May 6, 2018, 2pm Northbrook Celebration of Cultures, North Suburban YMCA, 2705 Techny Rd, Northbrook, IL

June 21, 2018, 7pm – Schaumburg Township District Library, 130 S Roselle Rd, Schaumburg, IL

June 23, 2018, 2pm – Warren-Newport Public Library, 224 O’Plaine Rd, Gurnee, IL

Where Rivers Meet: Stories and Songs from Masters of Arabic Music

Chicago Folklore Ensemble is proud to announce the premier of our new show, Where Rivers Meet.

Join us for two free shows:

December 10, 2017, 3pm at Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave.

December 17, 2017, 3pm at Skokie Public Library, 5215 Oakton St.

Where Rivers Meet is a show of Arabic music and storytelling that takes listeners down the rivers of the Middle East. String ensemble and storyteller accompany master musicians from Iraq, Egypt, and Palestine who share melodies and memories passed down in song and story.

This show features three artists who live in the Chicago area:

Amro Hosny Helmy, oud player and singer from Cairo, Egypt
Mary Hazboun, singer from Bethlehem, Palestine
Edward Hanna, percussionist from Basra, Iraq

Two Free Shows in June for Night Out in the Parks!

The Chicago Park District is offering dozens of free programs this summer for their Night Out in the Parks series. Chicago Folklore Ensemble will be performing twice!

Follow The Butterfly, Revere Park
Traditional music and folktales about respecting the earth; for kids and families.
2509 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago
Friday, June 16, 2017
6-7 PM

The World In Chicago, Elm Park
Music and stories of Chicago immigrant musicians
5215 S Woodlawn Ave, Chicago
Friday, June 23, 2017
5-6 PM

Also, we have another free show coming up as part of Old Town School of Folk Music’s World Music Wednesday series!

The World In Chicago, Old Town School of Folk Music
4544 N Lincoln Ave · Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
8:30 PM

Book Release at Alhambra Palace

The World in Chicago, an evening of story and song! 

Sunday, November 27. 4pm $25
The Alhambra Palace Restaurant, 1240 West Randolph Chicago, IL 60607
Tickets and information


Join Chicago Folklore Ensemble for a show of stories and music collected from master musicians from Serbia, Ghana, Jordan, Argentina, and Thailand! This show will celebrate the release of an illustrated book featuring the oral histories of master musicians.

From the Serbian mountains of blood and honey to the passionate coasts of Argentina, rattling buses tearing through Thai countryside and back to sweet home Chicago, embark on a journey around the world atop a carpet of music and story. String quartet and storyteller come together to narrate the sights, sounds, and emotions stored in the memories of Chicago immigrant musicians.

The Chicago Folklore Ensemble celebrates Chicago’s immigrant communities and helps to share and pass on their stories and music. The ensemble interviews musicians of many ethnic backgrounds, collects their traditional music and oral histories, and adapts them into dynamic arrangements for string quartet and storyteller.

Album Release Concert on October 2


The World In Chicago

Sunday, October 2, 4pm
2nd Unitarian Church, 656 W Barry St, Chicago


Chicago Folklore Ensemble is releasing it’s first album, entitled The World in Chicago! Please join us as we celebrate with an afternoon performance of songs and stories of Chicago immigrants, followed by a feast with food from each country!

The World in Chicago is a delightful fusion of classical and world music! Original arrangements of traditional folk songs are played by string quartet featuring soloists from each country represented: master musicians Baha’a Abu-Taha, oud player from Jordan; Abee Mensah, keyboard player from Ghana; Alba Guerra, singer from Argentina; Phiwan Phonwiang, khaen player from Thailand; and Jovan Mihailović, violinist from Serbia.

Embark on a journey of melody, laughter, tears, and joy, we realize together the human behind each story, the worlds contained in each song.



Night Out In The Parks

We are pleased to announce two free upcoming shows! They are part of Night Out In The Parks, year round events sponsored by the Chicago Park District.

Tuesday, August 16, 4:30pm, Rainbow Beach Park. We’ll be performing Follow The Butterfly, our kids’ show featuring traditional music and folktales about respecting the earth.

Thursday, August 18, 6:00pm, Holstein Park. We’ll be performing The World In Chicago, featuring songs and stories collected from Chicago immigrant musicians.

Hope to see you there!

The World In Chicago as String Quartet

We are pleased to announce Chicago Folklore Ensemble’s first ever solely musical performances! Please join us as we play string quartet arrangements of pieces from our show The World In Chicago – music from Jordan, Ghana, Argentina, Thailand, and Serbia. We will be joined by guest musicians from each country – Baha’a Abu-Taha, Abee Mensah, Alba Guerra, Phiwan Phonwiang, and Jovan Mihailović! They will be beautiful events celebrating the musical culture that immigrants bring to our sweet home Chicago.

Thursday, July 14th, 7pm – Lake Street Church, 607 Lake St, Evanston, IL.

Sunday, July 17th, 4:30pm – St. Philip Neri Church, 2132 E 72nd St, Chicago, IL.

Big news: Chicago Folklore Ensemble has recently been awarded a grant from the City of Chicago’s DCASE to produce an album/book of our work The World in Chicago! Save the date for our CD/book release party with stories, songs, and food from around the world! Sunday, October 2nd, 4pm at 2nd Unitarian Church, 656 W Barry Ave, Chicago, IL.

Here is a preview of the upcoming shows in July! We are joined by Jordanian singer and oud player Baha’a Abu-Taha.