Hailey Cohen, mezzo-soprano; Nicholas Ward, baritone; Michael Tran, clarinet; Kimberly Jeong, cello; Florence Mak, piano

Lynx Project

  • Eugenia Cheng; text by Sofia Ghassaei (b. 2003) - In the Mind Garden (2023) (9’)
  • I. La Noyée
  • III. Rhyme of the Lost Mariners
  • Corinne Klein (b. 2002) ; text by Matthew McGrath (b. 2002) - Dare to see the beauty (2023) (6’)
  • Paul Novak (b. 1998); text by Parker Scheu (b. 2004) - many aches (2023) (10’)
  • Matthew Recio (b. 1991); text by Carlos Schaut - How to be Silent (3:45pm)
  • Matthew Recio: text by Carlos Schaut - Letterboard (3:10)
  • Shane Scott Cook (b. 1991); text by Amelia Bell (b. 2007) - other together (3:35)
  • Shane Scott Cook; text by Amelia Bell - etude (4:30)

Lynx Project amplifies diverse voices and connects communities through new song commissions, inclusive concerts, and innovative educational programming. Their Amplify Series commissions composers to set the works of autistic poets who are primarily nonspeaking to music. Now in its fifth year of commissions, the series has commissioned over 40 writers, composers, and performers and generated over four hours of new music.


Chicago-based mezzo-soprano, Hailey Cohen, is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater, and Dance receiving her Master’s in Vocal Performance. In 2023 Hailey joins Cedar Rapids Opera as a Smith Resident Artist where she will perform the roles of Hattie in their production of American Gothical and Logan in Charlie and the Wolf. Additional role highlights include K. in Would You Eat Me?, Sally in The Boy Who Wanted to be a Robot both with Thompson Street Opera, Ember and Asintmah(cover) in Future Perfect with Bellissima Opera, Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel with Vienna Summer Music Festival, Orfeo in Orfeo ed Euridice, and Littler Daughter in Proving Up with the University of Michigan Opera. As an advocate for new opera and art song, she received the Eileen Weiser EXCEL Award to commission Jerrell R. Gray’s song cycle Human Nature in 2020.

Baritone Nicholas Ward is thrilled to be returning to sing with LYNX after most recently appearing on their debut album, beautiful small things. He first performed with LYNX in the early spring of 2020 for the Chicago Premiere of the Amplify Series. He has performed in opera across the country with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Birmingham, Chicago Opera Theater, Union Avenue Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Opera in the Heights, and many more. Recent concert and recital highlights include CCPA’s PianoFest, Opera Birmingham’s Catch a Rising Star series, the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, and the Steinway Gallery in Miami. He is a three-time Regional Finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and the First Place Winner of the Opera Birmingham Competition.

Clarinetist Michael Tran is a soloist, orchestral musician, and educator in Chicago. His engagements have taken him to Carnegie Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Center, and recital halls across the United States. He recently performed on the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series broadcasted on WFMT, Chicago’s Classical Music station. Michael is in demand as an
orchestral musician having performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra, and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

As an active recitalist and chamber musician, cellist Kimberly Jeong has given numerous performances in venues across the United States, Canada, and Europe, broadcasted on Brava TV, CBC Radio, and BBC, and heard on recording projects with Chandos and Linn Records. Jeong holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Yale School of Music, and the Royal Conservatory of the Hague. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University under the guidance of Hans Jørgen Jensen with cognate degrees in Music Theory and Musicology. In addition, she is an Instructor and Chamber Music Coach at Washington University in St. Louis.

Born and raised in Canada, Florence Mak quickly realized that she would not be able to fulfill her dream as an All-Star hockey player in the NHL, given that she has never put on a pair of hockey skates. As a result, she turned her focus to piano and has appeared on stage throughout North America and Europe as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician. Without having the vocal range of a bass-baritone or ability to circular breathe, Florence decided to live vicariously through others by way of musical collaboration. As a result, she received her doctorate in Piano Accompanying and Chamber Music from the Eastman School of Music. She recently held positions as a Collaborative Pianist at Bard College Conservatory of Music and as the Coordinator of Collaborative Piano at Ohio University. Florence is the Artistic Director and a founding member of LYNX Project.


Corinne Klein is a composer and musician currently based in Chicago, IL. Corinne is originally from Green Bay, WI, and has been studying mezzo-soprano voice for 9 years. They are currently attending DePaul University in Chicago, IL studying Music Composition and Music Education with goals of creating an inclusive environment for creative expression in the classroom. Corinne composes as a way to process internal conflict, using the process of composing as a healing mechanism and a form of communication. Corinne’s compositions strive to foster complex emotional experiences through intensely expressive writing. The timbres and sonorities of their music seek to capture specific yet complicated feelings. Corinne is the winner of the 2022 Yale Glee Club Emerging Composers Competition, and has had works performed by the Yale Glee Club at Yale University, the Pyrenean String Quartet with the Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Kyle Bruckmann and Matt Ingalls of SfSound, and various student performers.

Eugenia Cheng is a pianist and mathematician. She is the founder of the Liederstube, an intimate oasis for art song based in Chicago. She is Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and author of popular math books including “How to Bake Pi” and “X+Y: A mathematician’s manifesto for re-thinking gender”. She gives public talks on math and performs concerts around the world, writes the “Everyday Math” column for the Wall Street Journal, and has completed several art commissions. She recently completed her first art song commission, for GRAMMY nominated Laura Strickling’s 40@40 project; other recent compositions include a song cycle about infertility and pregnancy loss, a song cycle about being a woman in the 21st century, and new English lyrics for Schumann’s “Frauenliebe und -leben”, telling the story of a strong contemporary woman. She holds a PhD in pure mathematics from the University of Cambridge. www.eugeniacheng.com

Matthew Recio (G. Schirmer published artist) recently finished his post as the Vanguard emerging composer with Chicago Opera Theater, developing operas with Royce Vavrek and Stephanie Fleischmann. He looks forward to a new commission from Chicago Fringe Opera for the Decameron Opera Coalition. This past year he was a returning resident artist at West Edge Opera, a feature on Laura Stricking’s “40×40” project, and a commission for Queer In(n) dedicated to Chicago elder trans icon, Mama Gloria. He has worked with the Chicago Fringe Opera, Oberlin Conservatory, the Metropolitan Youth Chorus, Fourth Coast Ensemble’s SongSlam and wrote an immersive choral cantata “The Hollow” for Stare at the Sun. He was a winner of the IU Georgina Joshi Vocal Composition prize, the American Prize in choral writing and the first selected commissioned artist for the Cincinnati Song Initiative. Recio has worked with organizations such as BMP, New Voices Opera Company, Cincinnati Camerata, NOTUS and The Crossing. www.matthewrecio.com

Rejecting grandiose narratives, the music of Chicago-based composer Paul Novak is driven by a love of small things: miniature forms, delicate soundscapes, and condensed ideas. His compositions, which draw influence from literature, art, and poetry, have been performed throughout the United States and abroad. Novak was selected for a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and has recently received honors from the ASCAP Foundation and National Association of Composers of the USA. He has received commissions from the American Composers Orchestra, ASCAP and Society of Composers, Inc., Music from Copland House, the Boston New Music Initiative, Blackbox Ensemble, and Kinetic Ensemble. Each of Novak’s pieces immerses listeners in a shimmering and subtly crafted musical world, guided by a sense of empathy for the performers playing his music. Originally from Reno, NV, he is currently a PhD student at the University of Chicago.

Shane Scott Cook is a composer, conductor and multi-instrumentalist whose work often focuses on building community and connection. He draws from his eclectic musical upbringing, and has been performed by New West Symphony, Del Sol String Quartet, New Jersey Percussion Ensemble, Salastina Music Society, Saili Oak, and Shawn Mativetsky. He is an alumni composer fellow of the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, where he is a current cohort member of Composing Earth, a program focused on equipping emerging artists to combat the ongoing climate crisis through their work. Shane recently graduated with his Master of Music in Composition at Butler School of Music at University of Texas at Austin, where he taught aural skills and assistant conducted with the New Music Ensemble. He resides in Chicago, Illinois, where he continues to write, perform and teach music, and is presently teaching himself to play the guitar.


Amelia Bell is a 15-year-old nonspeaking autistic and lives in the Tampa, Florida area. Amelia began writing poetry in January 2021 after finding a way to communicate through spelling in June 2020. Since gaining communication, she has greatly heard and responded to a call to increase awareness around the needs and abilities of nonspeaking autistics. Amelia is driven by the reaching and seeing she has experienced through poetry, which has transformed her being.

Carlos Schaut – I want to be seen. All my life I have felt unseen. Poetry is my creative outlet. The Lynx Project gives an inclusive representation. I am a non-speaking adult living with autism. My group is under-represented in so many areas, especially in art and poetry.

I am Matthew McGrath, a 20-year-old nonspeaking autistic from Montreal, Canada. When I was 15 years old, I learned how to spell to communicate using a letterboard to express what was painfully trapped inside. I am a warrior and I write poetry because it is a form of healing for me. As a sexual assault survivor and a nonspeaking autistic, healing and helping others to feel my words are the reasons I choose to write. People manage their own lives, but music and poetry can move and inspire them to learn about nonspeaking autistics.

My name is Parker Scheu. I am a minimally speaking individual with autism. Many assume that because I don’t readily speak I have nothing intelligent or creative to contribute. Art is a universal language that everyone can understand, just like love. Tell everyone you love the reality of what I share with you now, perhaps you could say it with a poem or a song.

Sofia Ghassaei – I’m a 19 year old minimally-speaking apraxic poet with synesthesia. I tend to write about themes others will really understand, like sorrow, gratitude and love, seen through the honest tint of autism. I yearn to show the world my soul.

About the Rush Hour Concerts

Rush Hour Concerts are made possible through the generosity of the Zell Family Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council Agency and contributions from individual donors.

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