Fifth House Ensemble looks for inspiration in Austin

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The Fifth House Ensemble, a classical concert performance group, asked for inspiration from an unusual source Saturday: Austin residents and visitors.

The Chicago-based musicians collected stories at Austin Town Hall, 5610 W. Lake St., for the group’s upcoming series of free shows in November, called “Caught: The Woods.”

Participants were given prompts and played music to inspire their real stories, all related to feeling trapped. A young boy told a story about being stuck in his mother’s room, while Carolyn Bracks of Lakeview discussed a time she thought she missed the last bus leaving a mountaintop in South Africa.

“It’s neat how completely different stories hinge on a couple of the same things,” said Eric Snoza, the group’s double bassist, during the workshop.

The shows will likely have a puppeteer who will act out stories collected throughout Chicago during the musical performances, said Melissa Snoza, executive director and founding member of Fifth House Ensemble. The group has also collected tales from residents of Humboldt Park, Washington Park and students at area elementary schools, including Lowell.

Six people—both children and adults—attended, all of whom were asked to participate minutes before the workshop. But Bracks said she ended up having a good time.

“It was a cool idea,” she said. “I like thinking about stories related to music and how you can convey the mood through movement.”

Melissa Snoza said the event also helped the group connect to area residents.

“We thought it would be great to get to know our city a little bit more,” she said.

The show is part of Fifth House’s project based on storytelling and musical interpretation, according to the group’s website. “Caught: The Woods” is the community-based element of the three-part project.

While the group has always performed traditional musical concerts, the storytelling aspect was introduced a couple of years after its founding in 2005, Melissa Snoza said.

“(Storytelling) is our sort of signature now,” she said.

But Fifth House Ensemble does not limit itself to Chicago to collect stories. Its website invites out-of-towners to submit stories online until Friday, Sept. 28.

The group will review all recorded stories from their workshops and choose which ones will be acted out at their shows, which will be performed in Austin, Humboldt Park and Washington Park.

Austin’s free show will be held at the town hall Nov. 2 at 6:30 p.m.

Post Photo:  From left to right, Matt Monroe, Melissa Snoza and Eric Snoza. Music is played with a poetry reading to demonstrate the mixture of music with storytelling.

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