Orion Opens 25th Season with Guest Artists Boe, Klein, Kassinger

July 27, 2017

The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, opens its 25th anniversary season with “A Beautiful Oboe and Friends,” welcoming three guest artists who have joined them in previous seasons: violist Stephen Boe, oboist Alex Klein and bass player Robert Kassinger. Performances take place September 24 at First Baptist Church of Geneva-Chapelstreet Church; September 27 at the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago; and October 1 at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston.

The program
For these concerts, Orion revives two works the ensemble performed with Klein in 2002. Mozart composed his Quartet in A Major for oboe, violin, viola and cello, K. 370/368b, for Friedrich Ramm (1744–1813), a brilliant oboist whose artistic connections Mozart was anxious to renew. Hailed as a concerto within the intimate genre of chamber music, the piece’s towering first movement leads to the heart-rending Adagio, one of Mozart’s finest. The concluding Rondeau is famous for the ingenious passage in which the oboe plays in common time against the energetic 6/8 accompaniment.

Prokofiev’s Quintet in G minor for oboe, clarinet, violin, viola and bass, the second piece Orion and Klein performed together previously, is a wonderfully imaginative work with colorful scoring that accentuates the composer at his original best. While Prokofiev was visiting Paris in 1924, a traveling dance company commissioned him to write a chamber ballet. As there were only five players to accompany the dancers, Prokofiev created a quintet of wondrous beauty using the instruments available to him.

Thaddaus von Durnitz, a talented amateur bassoonist, commissioned Mozart’s delightfully charming Sonata in B-flat Major, here adapted for bass, oboe and cello, K. 292/196c, in 1775. The piece offers each musician opportunities for highly lyrical expression.

In 1819, the 22-year-old Schubert was on vacation in the mountains. Relaxing in the most congenial of surroundings, he met Sylvester Paumgartner, a wealthy amateur cellist. Paumgartner commissioned Schubert to compose a work for his group, which consisted of piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass, and the result was the famous “Trout” Quintet in A Major. The work takes its name from the fourth movement’s theme and variations, which use the melody from Schubert’s earlier art song “Die Forelle” (The Trout). The wavering ascending accompaniment accentuates the irresistible straightforwardness of the melody.

Orion’s 25th anniversary season
Orion’s 2017–18 season, which includes violist Stephen Boe on all programs, continues with “Let’s Tango,” featuring works by Bernstein, von Dohnanyi, Horn and Schumann, in November; “Old Meets New,” highlighted by a world premiere in honor of the 25th anniversary by Sebastian Huydts, along with works by Bruch, Klein and Fauré, in March; and “Quintessential Quintets,” with additional guest artist violinist Mathias Tacke performing on a program including Weber, Gershwin and Dvořák, in May. 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.

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 “A Beautiful Oboe and Friends” takes place Sunday, September 24 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Geneva-Chapelstreet Church, 2300 South Street in Geneva; Wednesday, September 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago; and Sunday, October 1 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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