We can't do what we do without you.

Mind on Fire was started with a shared sense of responsibility to the Baltimore arts community. As a musician-run family with diverse programming, we rely on your support. Thank you for believing in us! What you give goes directly to the programs, the musicians, the production of shows, and making living art. Thank you for being a part of this community with us.

Mind on Fire is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. This means that all donations made to Mind on Fire are 100% tax deductible. We are inspired that you have decided to choose the arts.

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 If you'd like to support us in a way other than attending our events or donating, please get in touch.

Our Vision

Founded in 2016, Mind on Fire is result of countless late night discussions about the future of classical music, and whether it is a tradition that must be preserved. It is also the result of discussions about the future of classical musicians — although they study a type of historical performance, these musicians are contemporary artists of the time, finding their inspiration from the events happening around them. The ultimate result – Mind on Fire – is a cooperative of highly trained musicians whose goal is to eliminate barriers – between audience and musician, between classically-trained musicians and artists from every discipline, and between any music lover and the tools needed to make the music of their dreams.

Our mission is thus:

“Mind on Fire makes music by living composers and showcases the talents of performing artists, building creative access and collaborative partnerships in Baltimore.”

Mind on Fire, in the simplest terms, is a group of like-minded artists who want to facilitate high-quality music making for our beloved Baltimore. As evidenced by the presence of institutions like the American Visionary Art Museum, Maryland Art Place, and Creative Alliance, Baltimore’s “DIY appreciation” is a hallmark of the culture of the city. The idea that art by untrained artists should be studied, elevated and celebrated is profoundly meritocratic. Mind on Fire seeks to build on that idea by presenting high-quality, compelling performance experiences, by people of all disciplines and skill levels.

How do we do this? Although we are a very young organization (we had our first board meeting a little less than one year ago!), we hit the ground running with our performances, education and collaborative initiatives. We have a bold vision of the future that will involve:

  • creating opportunities for music lovers of all abilities;

  • prioritizing marginalized voices, and making radical inclusivity a cornerstone of our work;

  • creating opportunities for Baltimore musicians to interpret the music of our time and

  • taking the “notated music tradition” out into the community and meet our audience where they are, as opposed to making them come to us.

The History

In the Fall 2016, noting the dynamism and revolutionary roots of modular chamber music groups such as Ensemble Dal Niente, Bang on a Can, International Contemporary Ensemble, and Alarm Will Sound, James Young saw a need for a similar organization in Baltimore. Baltimore, long known for its vibrant experimental music scene and DIY spirit, was primed for the un-cloistering of contemporary classical music.

That previous summer, Allison Clendaniel had experienced the free, giving environment of the peer-to-peer Toronto Creative Music Lab and acquired a strong desire to build the same in the Baltimore community. She was a part of two separate musical worlds in the city and wondered why they couldn’t coexist and strengthen each other.

Jason Charney and Eric d’Alessandro had both recently moved back to Baltimore after some time away, both drawn to the artistic energy of the city. Jason quickly established The Bun Shop Presents, an open venue for eclectic artists normally under the radar. Eric came back with the idea of starting a new chamber salon, focusing on pointed, narrative music of our time.

Stephanie Ray, Lisa Perry, Jeremy Lyons, Peter Kibbe, and Jeff Stern were about to start a group of their own, Pique Collective, to fill the void left by the exit of SONAR and Lunar Ensemble. The time was right.

We had our first organizational meeting in the Winter of 2016-17, and very quickly we began to engage our mission. In late April of 2017 we traveled to the college of William and Mary to lead a composer lab and workshop, establishing a foundation of education.

The very next week we presented our first variety show on May 5, presenting poetry by Janea Kelly alongside the music of Amy Beth Kirsten, a puppet play about Fruits next to an orchestration of a song by the Baltimore-based band, Nudie Suits.

Two months later in July, we participated in the first ever Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's New Music Festival, playing both minimalist classics and hot off the presses neo-expressionistic, electroacoustic music about cerebral domination. October proved to be our busiest month yet, as we collaborated with celebrated Baltimore electronic musician, Dan Deacon. The next day we presented our second mainstage show featuring the electro-acoustic “Vespers for a New Dark Age” by Missy Mazzoli, the synth/drum duo Wume, and somatic artist Ada Pinkston.

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Mind on Fire took its name from George Rochberg’s essay manifesto, L’Envoi, and was created to present new classical music without pretension, as Rochberg said, to be part of “the universal fire that makes solar systems and galaxies” that is all art. That we may present music by members of an established orchestra, — with puppeteers, with bands, with performance artists, visual artists, and poets — without hierarchy.

“This is the symmetry our passions take on to make of our internal fire what we need to translate our mortality into the immortality of the beautiful.”
George Rochberg, L’Envoi