A small ensemble with a huge musical vocabulary, Fireworks Ensemble is helping to redefine the chamber music experience with its distinctively American, brazenly inclusive approach to repertoire. Founded in 2000 by composer/bassist Brian Coughlin, Fireworks’ journey began with Coughlin’s rock-inspired version of Stravinsky’s orchestral masterpiece, The Rite of Spring, which quickly drew the attention of critics and a national audience. Since then, the ensemble has expanded its repertoire with programs that combine music from a wide range of styles and time periods into cohesive musical experiences. Dance Mix (700 years of dance music from around the world), Cartoon (music and video inspired by the golden age of animation), None of the Above (the virtuosic instrumental music of Frank Zappa), and American Tapestry (great American folk, rock, jazz, and classical masterpieces), have inspired critics to label the group “adventurous and ahead of the curve” (The Washington Post), “classically-trained but musically fearless” (Time Out New York), and “the bridge between the contemporary classical new music ensemble and the mainstream popular audience” (The Wall Street Journal) and prompted Anne Midgette of the New York Times to write, “Finally labels ceased to matter: this was just music and it sounded like music to keep.”
Fireworks tours throughout the United States each year and has appeared at venues ranging from Carnegie Hall, The Library of Congress, The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and The Chautauqua Institution to rock and jazz clubs such as (le) Poisson Rouge, The Knitting Factory, and Tonic. The ensemble has appeared on radio and television, including Minnesota Public Radio, WNYC’s “Soundcheck”, and NBC’s “The 10 Show.”
Passionate about its work with young people and dedicated to reaching new audiences of all ages, Fireworks has reached thousands of students throughout the country through its workshops, master classes, and residencie. Fireworks has participated in Chamber Music America’s Residency Partnership Program, was an inaugural member of Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections program, and is ensemble-in-residence at the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium.