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

November 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.

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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