Orion “Connections” Concert Features Kritz Original, Clarke, Mahler

January 30, 2017

On a program of “Connections,” The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, presents its third concert program of the season, which takes its name from a Robert Kritz work composed for Orion. Performances, which welcome back guest violist Stephen Boe, take place at First Baptist Church of Geneva March 12; the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago March 15; and the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston March 19.

The program
Composed for Orion in 2001, Connections for clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano by Chicago-based composer Robert Kritz is a highly original work that sparkles with personalized craftsmanship. Kritz, who spent many years in the corporate world by day while composing into the wee hours of the morning, has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “a strong and engaging musical personality.”

The program includes two works by Rebecca Clarke. Dating from 1921, the Trio for violin, cello and piano is a passionate and restless work that recalls the graciousness of Schubert, the relentless nature of Beethoven and the darkly hued musings of Brahms. The greatly melodious Prelude, Allegro and Pastorale for clarinet and viola from 1941 features a prelude of mystical yearnings, a spirited allegro of skillful counterpoint and an equally mesmerizing pastorale of otherworldly charms.

For anyone even remotely familiar with Gustav Mahler’s unmistakable symphonic masterpieces, the restless and brooding Quartet in A minor for violin, viola, cello and piano from 1876 will immediately bring to mind the endlessly expressive musical landscapes of this late Romantic Era master. Mahler composed this individualized chamber music gem toward the end of his first year of study at the Vienna Conservatory, when he was about 16 years old.

Orion’s 2016–17 season
Orion’s 2016–17 season, Miniatures and Masterworks, concludes with “Wit and Passion” in May, also featuring Boe for works by Jean Francaix and Brahms. Orion appears on the broadcast series “Live from WFMT” March 20, 2017 at 8 p.m.

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 Illinois Arts Council, 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.

Performance and ticket information
The Orion Ensemble’s concert program “Connections” takes place Sunday, March 12 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Geneva, 2300 South Street in Geneva; Wednesday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago; and Sunday, March 19 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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