“Musical Enchantments” Conclude Season with Dvořák, Brahms, Beach

March 1, 2016

The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, concludes its 2015–16 season with “Musical Enchantments,” welcoming back guest violinist Mathias Tacke, former second violinist of the Vermeer Quartet, and violist Stephen Boe. Performances take place May 29 at First Baptist Church of Geneva March 13; June 1 at the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago; and June 5 at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston.

The program
A violinist and violist, Dvořák composed Miniatures for Two Violins and Viola, Op. 75a in 1887 for Josef Kruis, a chemistry student who was lodging with Dvorak in the home of the composer’s mother-in-law. Often visited by Kruis’ violin teacher, Dvořák would hear the two playing violin duets and decided to write music for two violins and viola so that he could join them. Highly melodic and immediately accessible, these works represent a significant contribution to the rarified selections of music written for violin and viola. As Dvorak stated, “I am as delighted in writing music for these three instruments as I am writing a symphony.”

Retired from writing orchestral music in 1887, Brahms turned his attention to chamber works. Hearing the renowned clarinetist Richard Muhlfeld, Brahms was inspired to compose for him this Quintet for Clarinet and Strings. Often described as autumnal in feeling, the interplay between clarinet and strings features some of Brahms’ finest chamber writing.

Amy Beach was and will be a great voice of equality for women in music. Composed in 1909, the Quintet in F-sharp Minor for Piano and Strings was hailed as a “truly modern work,” which Beach wrote to showcase her pianistic artistry. There are many instances in the music of fine soloistic writing for the various strings as well in this highly enjoyable example of early 20th century chamber music.

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras collaboration
For its June 1 performance at PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago, Orion is pleased to welcome the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras’ Millennium Winds quintet. The musicians, all 17 years old, include flutist Megan Torti, a senior at Glenbard West High School who lives in Glen Ellyn; oboist Kayla Bull, a senior at Naperville Central High School who lives in Naperville; clarinetist Anthony Dare, a senior at Main South High School who lives in Park Ridge; horn player Dominic Davis, a senior at Valparaiso High School who lives in Valparaiso, Indiana; and bassoonist Joseph Nutt, a junior at Nequa Valley High School who lives in Naperville.

The Orion Ensemble
Founded in 1992, The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming for its critically acclaimed millennium celebration “An Inside Look at Contemporary Music,” features a roster of four superb musicians—Kathryne Pirtle (clarinet), Florentina Ramniceanu (violin), Diana Schmück (piano) and Judy Stone (cello)—who have performed throughout North America, Europe and Asia, as an ensemble and individually in solo, orchestral and other chamber music roles. The Chicago Tribune called Orion “one of Chicago’s most vibrant, versatile and distinctive ensembles,” and the Chicago Sun-Times said Orion is “what chamber music should be all about: Individual virtuosity melded into a group personality.” 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, the Illinois Arts Council and generous donations from its patrons. For a brief history, click here.

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO) has provided music education through orchestral programs and performance opportunities of the highest caliber since 1946. CYSO currently serves 500 Chicago-area musicians ages six through 18 through three full orchestras, three string orchestras, multiple steel orchestras and supplemental programs that include chamber music ensembles, music theory and composition. CYSO also reaches the diverse population of Chicago Public School students, educators and community members each year through its Music Pathways program. Music Pathways includes an In-School Residency Program with several partner CPS elementary schools, Clinics for partner CPS high schools, free Community Concerts, a Private Lesson Program for current CYSO students and Neighborhood Ensembles. CYSO, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is investing in the future of music and the next generation of leaders. For more information, visit cyso.org.

Performance and ticket information
The Orion Ensemble’s concert program “Musical Enchantments” takes place Sunday, May 29 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Geneva, 2300 South Street in Geneva; Wednesday, June 1 at 7:30 p.m. (with the CYSO’s Millennium Winds) at the Pianoforte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago; and Sunday, June 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston. Single tickets are $26, $23 for seniors and $10 for students; admission is free for children 12 and younger. 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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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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