Janet's Stage

Orion Announces 25th Anniversary Season

Wed, Jul 5, 2017

The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, celebrates 25 years of chamber music performance with four concert programs welcoming respected guest musicians who will join Orion’s three founding members—clarinetist Kathryne Pirtle, violinist Florentina Ramniceanu and pianist Diana Schmück—along with longtime cellist Judy Stone. The season features a 25th anniversary world premiere and several favorite Orion works from past seasons.

“We are grateful to our loyal audiences and the thousands of people our music has touched in Chicago and across the country,” said Pirtle. “Throughout the years, we have had the opportunity and joy of sharing our stage with some of the finest artists in music, dance, poetry and visual arts. We are particularly proud of greatly expanding the repertoire for our instrumentation by inspiring and commissioning many composers.” Ramniceanu added, “We are blessed to have made music together for 25 years, growing into the chamber music family we are today. The generosity and support of our funders and patrons has inspired us to do more for our community and reach for the stars. We are looking forward to continuing for many years as we share our love of music.”

Orion performs each concert program at venues spanning the Chicago area, including the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago, the First Baptist Church of Geneva–Chapelstreet Church and the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston. Guest violist Stephen Boe will participate in all four concert programs.

The season opens with “A Beautiful Oboe and Friends,” featuring two additional guests: Alex Klein, oboe, and Robert Kassinger, bass. This program revives two works Orion performed with Klein in 2002: Mozart’s Quartet in A Major for oboe, violin, viola and cello, K. 370/368b and Prokofiev’s Quintet in G minor for oboe, clarinet, violin, viola and bass. The program also includes Mozart’s Sonata in B-flat Major for bass, oboe and cello, K. 292/196c and Schubert’s Quintet in A Major (Trout) for violin, viola, cello, bass and piano. Performances take place September 24 (Geneva), September 27 (Chicago) and October 1 (Evanston).

“Let’s Tango” brings back more Orion favorites, including Bernstein’s Sonata for clarinet and piano (1942); von Dohnanyi’s Serenade in C Major for string trio, Op. 10; Horn’s Black Tango for violin, viola, cello and piano (2002); and Schumann’s Quartet in E-flat Major for violin, viola, cello and piano, Op. 47. Performances are November 5 (Geneva), November 8 (Chicago) and November 12 (Evanston).

“Old Meets New” for the season’s third concert program, featuring a world premiere in honor of Orion’s 25th anniversary by Sebastian Huydts, along with selections from Bruch’s Eight Pieces for clarinet, viola and piano, Op. 83; Klein’s Trio for violin, viola and cello (1944); and Fauré’s Quartet No. 1 in C minor for violin, viola, cello and piano, Op. 15. Performances are March 4 (Geneva), March 7 (Chicago) and March 11 (Evanston).

The season concludes with “Quintessential Quintets,” with additional guest artist violinist Mathias Tacke joining Stephen Boe and Orion for a program including Weber’s Quintet in B-flat Major for clarinet and string quartet, Op. 34; Gershwin’s Lullaby for string quartet (1919); and Dvořák’s Quintet No. 2 in A Major for string quartet and piano, Op. 81. Performances are May 13 (Geneva), May 23 (Chicago) and May 27 (Evanston).

Also during the season, Orion hosts a fall benefit October 7 at Dunham Woods Riding Club in Wayne, Illinois and appears on the broadcast series “Live from WFMT” October 2, 2017 and March 5, 2018. Orion also tours, performing in chamber music series across the country.

For the fifth year, Orion continues its educational initiatives under the banner Janet’s Stage, a one-of-a-kind collaboration with the orchestra departments and chamber music ensembles at partner high schools in Fox Valley, the western suburbs and Chicago. The Orion musicians provide multifaceted, year-long student support. The program offers practical, individualized learning through master classes and chamber music coaching, performances for students and parents at each school, invitations to attend Orion concerts and the opportunity for student ensembles to perform on the Orion concert stage.

Orion also works with ensembles at the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras and presents programs with students from the Chicago High School for the Arts.

The Orion Ensemble performs its 2017–18 concert programs at three Chicago-area venues: the PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago on Wednesdays, September 27, November 8, March 7 and May 23 at 7:30 p.m.; the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston on Sundays, October 1, November 12, March 11 and May 27 at 7:30 p.m.; and First Baptist Church of Geneva–Chapelstreet Church, 2300 South Street in Geneva on Sundays, September 24, November 5, March 4 and May 13 at 7 p.m. Single tickets are $26, $23 for seniors and $10 for students; children 12 and younger are free. A four-ticket flexible subscription provides a 10 percent savings on full-priced tickets. For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit orionensemble.org.

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Orion Expands “Janet’s Stage” Program to Glenbard East High School

Mon, Nov 16, 2015

After two successful years, The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, is expanding its commitment to making chamber music more accessible through “Janet’s Stage,” adding Glenbard East High School in Lombard to its existing partnership with Geneva High School.

Orion’s first session of the year, a master class/performance for three classes at Glenbard East, took place September 23, and the second session occurred at Geneva High School on October 16. Orion musicians will return to each school at least five more times throughout the current school year.

Janet’s Stage is a one-of-a-kind collaboration with the orchestra departments at each partner school, with the Orion musicians—clarinetist and executive director Kathy Pirtle, violinist Florentina Ramniceanu, pianist Diana Schmück and cellist Judy Stone—providing multifaceted, year-long student support. The program offers practical, individualized learning through master classes and chamber music coaching, performances for students and parents at each school, invitations to attend Orion concerts and the opportunity for student ensembles to perform on the Orion concert stage.

Following an in-school performance at Geneva High School, several musicians collectively wrote, “Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come perform for us. We look forward to having you again and being able to work with you in our ensembles. Listening to you play was inspiring and a wonderful experience. Every year your teachings help us to become better musicians.”

Said Geneva’s orchestra director Julie Lawrence, “I have been so pleased to see the many ways my students have grown through this partnership. The new insights into how to rehearse as a chamber ensemble, deeper understanding of the nature of the music being performed and specific technical instruction they have received from working side by side with Orion has been a great advantage for my students. We are grateful to have professional musicians of such a high caliber in our midst through this program.”

Orion created Janet’s Stage to celebrate the life, special leadership and service of longtime former Board Chair Janet Safanda, who passed away in 2012. “This multi-year high-impact program pays tribute to the ways Janet’s special signature has been written on the Ensemble’s development and vision,” said Pirtle. “We are grateful for the significant funding from the community at large to continue and expand this initiative.”

Orion’s 2015–16 season

Orion’s 23rd season, Fantasies and Enchantments, welcomes several respected guest artists and includes a range of compositions from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries; Orion performs every program at three venues including Geneva, downtown Chicago and Evanston. The season began in late September with “French and German Tapestries,” welcoming guest violist Stephen Boe and featuring a world premiere by Jackson Berkey along with works by Mozart and Faure, and continues with “Harp Fantasy” in November and December, featuring the Orion debut of harpist Ben Melsky performing on a program of Ibert, Saint-Saëns, Vaughn Williams, Ireland and Bridge; “American Landscape” in March, presenting work by Berkey, Sowash and Dvorák; and “Musical Enchantments” in May and June, welcoming guests Mathias Tacke on violin and Stephen Boe on viola for a program of Dvorák, Beach and Brahms. For information, visit the Home page.

 

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Orion “On the Go” in 2014-15

Sat, Jan 10, 2015

2014-2015 marks another year of exciting music-making and growth for the Orion Ensemble. We shared a wealth of inspired repertoire from many styles and eras. Besides playing beloved classics by Beethoven, Dvorak and Schubert, we focused an entire concert on jazz in September, as we collaborated with Jim Gailloreto. In addition, we premiered the moving work of Sebastian Huydts that was dedicated to his best friend, Elise, who suffered an epic battle with cancer. We are grateful that the power of music can support us through every moment of our lives.

Our educational partnership program, Janet’s Stage, is now in its second year. This season we are continuing at Geneva and Batavia high schools, and have added Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn. All three of these programs have a dedicated commitment to chamber music.

On Oct. 27 and Nov. 10 we presented concerts and master classes at all three schools. It was great to see the students. They were very receptive to the variety of music and had great questions.

We played a lively repertoire at all schools. For Geneva and Batavia, we performed a movement from the Beethoven Trio, Opus1,
No. 1–which was composed when Beethoven was not much older than the students! Next we presented a few movements from the delightful Milhaud Trio, ending the program with the entertaining Quartet by Peter Schickele, whose last movement describes, “It’s Pirate music–put your back into it!”

Julie Lawrence, orchestra director at Geneva High School said, “This was the most inspiring Monday morning of my life! Such glorious music and performance!”

The continuity of regular coaching has been rewarding for us, as we experience musical growth and inspiration in the groups with whom we work. There are many talented ensembles, including some who are auditioning for elite chamber music competitions such as the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

We want to thank all of you for your tremendous ongoing support of our educational and artistic programming. We could not do this important work without you.

With much gratitude,
The Orion Ensemble

Working with students at one of our Fox Valley partner high school  Batavia HS, Nov. 10, 2014

ORION ENSEMBLE EXPANDS “JANET’S STAGE” AT FOX VALLEY SCHOOLS; Glenbard West in Glen Ellyn Joins Schools in Batavia and Geneva for Program’s Second Year

Thu, Nov 6, 2014

Kathy Pirtle Coaches a String Trio as Orchestra Director Looks on

Working with students at one of our Fox Valley partner high school

Following a successful debut year, The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, is expanding its commitment to making chamber music more accessible through “Janet’s Stage,” adding Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn to its existing partnerships with high schools in Batavia and Geneva.

Orion’s first session at Glenbard West, involving a masterclass/performance for two classes, is Monday, October 27. Sessions at Batavia and Geneva High Schools follow on November 10.

Janet’s Stage is a one-of-a-kind collaboration with the orchestra departments at each partner school, with the Orion musicians—clarinetist and executive director Kathy Pirtle, violinist Florentina Ramniceanu, pianist Diana Schmück and cellist Judy Stone—providing multifaceted, year-long student support. The program offers practical, individualized learning through master classes and chamber music coaching, performances for students and parents at each school, invitations to attend Orion concerts and the opportunity for student ensembles to perform on the Orion concert stage.

Ryan Schneider, who was a senior bass player in a chamber ensemble at Geneva High School last year, said, “Ms. Pirtle is helping us see things in a different way and take the perspective of what the composer wanted the style to sound like…[Orion’s musicians] have a really big wealth of knowledge on playing in a group and playing their instruments. There’s a lot I can learn from them.”

Said Geneva’s orchestra director Julie Lawrence, “They’re really good teachers, they have really great ideas,and they’re expanding horizons.”

Orion has created Janet’s Stage to celebrate the life, special leadership and service of longtime former Board Chair Janet Safanda, who passed away in 2012. “This multi-year high-impact program pays tribute to the ways Janet’s special signature has been written on the Ensemble’s development and vision,” said Pirtle. “We are grateful for the significant funding from individual donors in the Fox Valley and are hoping to secure more funding from the community at large to continue and expand this initiative.”

Orion’s 2014–15 season
Orion’s 22nd season, A Taste of Chicago, A World of Romance, focuses on a different Chicago composer on each of four concert programs; Orion performs every program at three venues including Geneva, downtown Chicago and Evanston. The season began in late September with “Stepping Out,” featuring work by Jim Gailloreto, and continues with “Rhapsody” in November and December, spotlighting music by Sebastian Huydts; “Jubilation” in March, showcasing work by Stacy Garrop; and “Celebration” in May, highlighting work by Marc Mellits.

Orion’s Janet Stage Off to a Great Start

Thu, Oct 16, 2014

Orion’s new program Janet’s Stage got off to a great start during the 2013–14 academic year,  as the attached article describes.

 

Feb_2014_Inside_Geneva_Magazine

Orion musicians continue work with high school students

Tue, Apr 22, 2014

This week, the musicians of Orion will visit two of their partner schools to work with orchestra students in small groups.

Working with students at one of our Fox Valley partner high school

THE ORION ENSEMBLE LAUNCHES “JANET’S STAGE” AT FOX VALLEY SCHOOLS

Tue, Sep 24, 2013

Program Aims to Increase Accessibility of Chamber Music in Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles

CHICAGO—The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, is stepping up its commitment to making chamber music more accessible through a new program: “Janet’s Stage,” an in-depth partnership debuting in September with high schools in Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles.

Janet’s Stage is a one-of-a-kind collaboration with the orchestra departments at each partner school, with the Orion musicians—clarinetist and executive director Kathy Pirtle, violinist Florentina Ramniceanu, pianist Diana Schmück and cellist Judy Stone—providing multifaceted, year-long student support. The program offers practical, individualized learning through master classes and chamber music coaching, performances for students and parents at each school, invitations to attend Orion concerts and the opportunity for student ensembles to perform on the Orion concert stage.

Music directors participating in Janet’s Stage shared: “These students would not otherwise have the chance to work side by side with such quality artists or view a world-class performance. …We are really excited and appreciative. …School budgets would never permit this opportunity, which will be life-changing to many.”

Orion has created Janet’s Stage to celebrate the life, special leadership and service of longtime former Board Chair Janet Safanda, who passed away in 2012. “Our wish is that the multi-year high-impact program will pay tribute to the ways Janet’s special signature has been written on the Ensemble’s development and vision,” said Pirtle. “We are grateful for the significant funding from individual donors in the Fox Valley and are hoping to secure more funding from the community at large to continue and expand this initiative.”

The Orion Ensemble is supported in part by grants from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation,
the John R. Halligan Charitable Fund, the Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation Fund,
and generous donations from our dedicated patrons.
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