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. 

Jonathan recently finished working with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago fellowship and CSO Composer in resident Samuel Adams on a new large chamber ensemble work for the Civic Composers Project.


Quirky, eclectic, and vibrant, his compositions have been performed by the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Ursa Ensemble, Dal Niente, Disquiet Music Ensemble, 20+ New Music Ensemble at DePaul University, Lakeshore Rush, Lake Effect Quartet, and the CCMP players of Boston Conservatory.

An avid pianist and performer of new music, he currently plays in three Chicago-based groups: Ursa Ensemble, Disquiet Music Ensemble, both of which perform contemporary and classical music during their concert seasons, 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. While at DePaul he was the recipient of the George & Rita Flynn Endowed Scholarship in composition. Additionally, while at Roosevelt, he served as a teaching assistant in music theory specializing in 20th century techniques. Jonathan maintains the position of music director for the Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist church and associate pianist for the St. Vincent DePaul Catholic church. He also serves as piano and composition teacher at Access Contemporary Music and accompanist for the Chicago Academy of the Arts as well as the Old Town School of Folk Music.
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A personal blurb about me: In my spare time I generally can be found in a coffee shop or having a drink with a friend at the bar. I am always happy to hang out with new people, and think laughing is one of the most important experiences to have in life. I like to play video games, ride my bike around the city, and explore neighborhoods I have not been in yet. My fiancée and I have a “too smart for her own good” beagle mix we rescued in October named Macy Lu and recently acquired a new rescue we have named Hildegard von Borken. Please feel free to reach out to me as I am always happy to meet new people!