Ellen McSweeney is a Chicago-based musician and writer. She is the founding violinist of Chicago Q Ensemble, a string quartet dedicated to new music, interdisciplinary collaboration, and innovative programming. In the 2011-12 season, Chicago Q Ensemble released two albums of contemporary music and completed a major collaboration with shadow puppet company Manual Cinema. They have premiered works by Joe Clark, Matthew Pakulski, Patrick Liddell, Eric Malmquist, Brian Baxter, Kyle Vegter, and Amy Wurtz.
As a chamber musician, Ellen has been heard with ensemble dal niente, Access Contemporary Music, Singers on New Ground, Homeroom Chicago, the Millennium Chamber Players, the Four Score Festival of New Music, and the DePaul Faculty Recital Series. During 2010, she was guest violinist with the Palomar Ensemble, giving performances of contemporary chamber music at the Chicago Cultural Center, the Green Mill, and live on WFMT. Ellen recently performed at the PianoForte Foundation Salon in a piano trio with David Moore and Matt Agnew, and performed with solo string quartet in Camerata Chicago‘s performance of Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro.
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, Ellen 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.
Ellen is the Chicago regional editor for NewMusicBox. She is a winner of Vanderbilt’s Merrill Moore Award for Poetry Writing and the Vanderbilt Review prize for Best Fiction. Her indie folk duo, Elk, will record their debut EP in September.