Ellen McSweeney is a Chicago-based violinist, writer and songwriter. She is the founding violinist of the string trio Chicago Q Ensemble, a co-founder of the record label Parlour Tapes+, and the Chicago regional editor for NewMusicBox.
A dynamic and versatile chamber musician , Ellen has given countless premieres with Chicago Q Ensemble and has collaborated with ensemble dal niente, Access Contemporary Music, Singers on New Ground, Homeroom Chicago, the Millennium Chamber Players, and the Four Score Festival of New Music. She has appeared on the DePaul Faculty Recital Series, the PianoForte Foundation Salon Series, WFMT, and on multiple series at the Chicago Cultural Center. Ellen recently served as acting principal second violin on Camerata Chicago‘s tour of Europe. Upcoming collaborations include improvised performances with James Falzone and her debut with Fonema Consort.
Ellen has been a national finalist in the MTNA Chamber Music Competition and has attended the Apple Hill, Killington, and Aspen Music Festivals. Before coming to Chicago, she lived in East Africa, serving on the faculty of the Umoja Arts Centre in Arusha, Tanzania. She is now on the faculty of the Music Institute of Chicago.
Ellen holds a B.M. from the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University and an M.M. from DePaul University, where she studied with Olga Kaler and held orchestral leadership positions under Cliff Colnot and Michael Lewanski.
On her blog and at NewMusicBox, Ellen writes frequently about issues of gender, creativity, work-life balance, and healthy career development for musicians. She is a winner of Vanderbilt’s Merrill Moore Award for Poetry Writing and the Vanderbilt Review prize for Best Fiction. Her writing recently appeared in the Playbill for the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center.