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Marcos Balter

(Un)Familiar Music Series: (Re)New Amsterdam | Concert preview

The local new-music community rallies behind a record label.


Since its formation in 2007, New Amsterdam has become one of new music’s edgiest and most loved record labels. In May, the NYC label moved into a new space in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood. On October 29, Hurricane Sandy hit. NewAm’s warehouse and headquarters was flooded with raw sewage, which destroyed all financial records, huge amounts of gear and 70 percent of the label’s CD inventory.

But a relief fund has helped get the rebuilding effort rolling. “We’ve had an amazing response,” says William Brittelle, one of the label’s three codirectors. “In the days after the storm we were questioning whether we’d be able to bounce back in the same form. Now it’s certainly possible, depending on the mold situation. We’re waiting to get assessment of mold and overall toxicity before we can reach an overall estimate of damages.”

Chicago’s new-music community jumped at the chance help the forward-thinking nonprofit. “(Re)New Amsterdam” is coproduced by local composer Marcos Balter and (Un)familiar Music Series curator Doyle Armbrust (who moonlights as violist with Spektral Quartet and classical contributor to TOC). The benefit features numerous A-list acts including eighth blackbird, Ensemble Dal Niente, Fulcrum Point, Spektral Quartet, Gaudete Brass and Fifth House Ensemble. Each group plays what Armbrust calls a “face melting” 15- to 20-minute set. “The new-music community has always been a big family. We watch each other’s back,” Balter says. “And, as family, we see as our duty to take care of our extended relatives in times of need.”

To donate to New Amsterdam’s hurricane relief fund, visit

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