Spreading Joy Through Music

Here are some photos and videos of some of our Chicago adventures in 2015!

Us entertaining Russian ladies with melodies from Russia at Indian Boundary Park:


A Mexican ice cream vendor sings along with us at Indian Boundary Park:


Entertaining Mexican families at Loyola Park:

Halloween adventures on CTA Public Transit:

Performing a Venezuelan song at the restaurant Uncommon Ground:

Performing in the park for Mole de Mayo festival in Pilsen:


Thanks to Marcus Davis for the photos at Indian Boundary Park and to Xiao Lyu and Yunfei Zhao for the CTA video.


Jovan Mihailović Folk Orchestra to perform Nov. 20

Jovan Mihailović Folk Orchestra

Friday, November 20, 2015, 8:00pm

Worlds of Music Chicago

4161 N. Damen Ave

$10 suggested donation


Jovan with his original paintings.

Jovan Mihailović, Sam Hyson, and Lucia Thomas perform as a violin trio, playing traditional melodies from various regions of Serbia and neighboring countries. Jovan – a multitalented artist born in 1934 in Belgrade, Serbia – has been teaching Sam and Lucia the art of traditional Serbian violin.

Supported in part by the Illinois Arts Coucil Agency (IACA) and the National Foundation for the Arts through the IACA’s Ethnic Folk Arts Master/Apprentice Program




Press Release for Chicago Folklore Ensemble Performances



Oral History Meets World Music in a Fusion of String Quartet and Storyteller

Chicago Folklore Ensemble presents the songs and stories collected from Chicago immigrant musicians.

September 9, 2015.

In an upcoming series of concerts, string quartet and storyteller come together to narrate musical and oral histories of Chicago immigrant musicians. The Chicago Folklore Ensemble will premier original arrangements of music and stories collected directly from master musicians hailing from Ghana, Argentina, Thailand, Serbia and Jordan.

The performances of this new ensemble will take place October 15, 7:30pm at the International House at University of Chicago; October 23rd, 7:30pm at the Musical Offering; and November 8, 12:00pm at City Winery.

“In Chicago, we are blessed with such a diversity of cultures at our doorstep,” said organizer Lucia Thomas. “Our vision is to bring together and celebrate these cultures, their music, and the remarkeable individuals who brought their music to us.”

After interviewing and studying under five of Chicago’s musical elders, the ensemble arranged pieces that weave together their traditional songs and personal stories. The elders interviewed include: Baha’a Abu-Taha, singer and oud player from Jordan; Abee Mensah, keyboard player from Ghana; Alba Guerra, singer from Argentina; Phiwan Phonwiang, khaen player from Thailand; and Jovan Mihailović, violinist from Serbia.

The show intertwines drama, humor, and nostalgia with philosophy, history, and culture. Music and oral history humanize the immigrant experience and encourage cross-cultural celebration.

The Chicago Folklore Ensemble is supported in part by the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and by Chicago Artists Month (CAM).

To learn more about the Chicago Folklore Ensemble, visit www.compassroseviolins.com/chicago-folklore-ensemble.


For more information, contact:

Lucia Thomas

(312) 731-7162





Chicago Folklore Ensemble Concerts

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The Chicago Folklore Ensemble is having its premier performances this Fall! Save the dates, and come hear the music and stories of Chicago immigrants.

  • October 15, 7:30pm, International House at University of Chicago (1414 E 59th St).
  • October 23, 7:30pm, Musical Offering (743 Custer Ave, Evanston, IL).
  • November 8, 12:00pm, City Winery, (1200 W Randolph St).

A smaller version of the ensemble will be performing in public libraries in the Chicago area:

  • September 20, 2:00pm, Morton Grove Public Library, (6140 Lincoln Ave, Morton Grove, IL).
  • October 20, 2:00pm, Park Ridge Public Library (20 S Prospect Ave, Park Ridge, IL).
From the Serbian mountains of blood and honey to the passionate coasts of Argentina, rattling buses tearing through Thai countryside and back to sweet home Chicago, we’ll take you on a journey around the world atop a carpet of music and story. String quartet and storyteller come together to narrate the sounds, tastes, emotions stored in the memories of Chicago immigrant musicians.

This project is partially supported by an Individual Artist Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.



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Projects are progressing!

P1010224In addition to our violin duo, please check out the two other projects we’re organizing: The Chicago Folklore Ensemble and the Jovan Mihailović Folk Orchestra. We are excited to share the news that both of these projects now receive institutional support! The Chicago Folklore Ensemble is supported in part by city of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), and our studies in Serbian violin with Jovan Mihailović are supported in part by the Illinois Arts Council Agency and the National Endowment for the Arts. We are organizing concerts for both of these projects. Stay tuned this summer for updates!

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From our house concert in Denver

In February, we took a trip to Denver, Colorado, where we performed a house concert of songs from around the world. Thanks to all who attended and helped with the event! See  additional videos here.


While in Denver, we also had the opportunity to collaborate briefly with El Yesfi Samir (AKA Tito Malaga), a brilliant oud and guitar player from Morocco. We played some of his original compositions with him and Meg York, a wonderful clarinet and flute player:

We also did some playing on the street. Here is us playing some Arabic music – a portion of Alf Layla Wa Layla by Oum Kalthoum – until we were unfortunately interrupted by a cop. Someone from a Denver community arts organization called Free Music for Free People happened to be filming: