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Since I’ve joined Trade Winds, I have started to approach my teaching in a way that encourages the student to be themselves at the instrument and on the page. It is more moving to hear a musician who has embraced their identity than one who might have been subject to a more constraining, restrictive ideology of music teaching.
— Jonathan Hannau

Jonathan Hannau

Pianist and Composer

Jonathan Hannau is a Chicago-based composer and pianist interested in the surreal, abstract, and colorful possibilities of music. He actively embraces and explores the concepts of narrative, drama, and stark expression while pushing them down the rabbit hole of timbre. Starting his musical career as a classically-trained pianist, his exposure to experimental and avant-garde music as an undergraduate sparked an interest in composition. In 2014, he was the winner of the Kleinman Composition Competition for his chamber piece Petite Counterpoint. Quirky, eclectic, and vibrant, his compositions have been performed by the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Ursa Ensemble, Dal Niente, Origin Brass, 20+ New Music Ensemble at DePaul, Lakeshore Rush, and Lake Effect Quartet.

An avid pianist and performer of new music, he currently plays in two Chicago-based groups: Ursa Ensemble, which performs contemporary and classical music during its concert season, and his newest project with composer Kelley Sheehan, Plucky Plunkers: a toy piano duo. His solo project titled the Rocking Chair Series involves commissions of solo piano works to be presented alongside an interview with the composer. This is done in an effort to create an inviting atmosphere for the audience as they listen to a wide variety of musical styles and expose them to the ideas that composers think about while writing.

Jonathan completed his graduate studies at Roosevelt University and undergraduate studies at DePaul University where he studied composition with Stacy Garrop, Kyong Mee Choi, Kurt Westerberg, Christopher Jones, Seung-Won Oh, and piano with Jelena Dirks.


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