Orion Ensemble’s 25th Season Continues with “Let’s Tango”

August 30, 2017

The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, continues its 25th anniversary season with “Let’s Tango,” featuring guest violist Stephen Boe. Performances take place November 5 at First Baptist Church of Geneva-Chapelstreet Church; November 8 at the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago; and November 12 at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston.

The program
Leonard Bernstein composed his Sonata for clarinet and piano between 1941 and 1942, and the piece has the distinction of being his first published work. Dedicated to the internationally renowned clarinetist and television producer David Oppenheim, the work is in two movements (though the andantino tempo beginning the second movement suggests a three-movement structure as it gives way to a faster vivace a leggiero). The graceful mysticism of the opening movement contrasts with the syncopated and changing rhythms of the finale, a prelude to the expression of Bernstein’s later masterpiece West Side Story.

Ernst von Dohnanyi was a composer who, with the Serenade in C Major for string trio, wished to look back upon the elegance of past centuries. Completed the year Dvorak passed away, this delightful trio features a brisk yet exotic March, a highly expressive Romance, a contrapuntally inspired Scherzo, a lyrical Theme and Variations and a delightful Rondo. An equally delightful return of the opening moment concludes this wonderful example of late Romantic Era chamber music.

Robert Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E-flat Major for violin, viola, cello and piano, Op. 47, has often been referred to as the “creative double” of the piano quintet, with an abundance of highly emotional outpourings in both works. The impassioned opening movement displays Schumann at his turbulent best, while the scherzo and finale are breathtaking in their intensity. The third movement, Andante cantabile, features the cello and sings of Schumann’s love for the instrument.

Composer Erling Patrick Horn writes, “I became interested in the tango in the mid-1990s because it fused two styles of music: classical and popular. This music injected a new energy and freshness into melody and rhythm…Black Tango, composed in 2002, is perhaps inspired by [Astor] Piazzolla more than any of my tangos. Many of the rhythms and effects in this piece I owe to listening to recordings of his live performances. I chose the title Black Tango partly because of the predominance of minor keys and chords. Also the economic situation in Argentina (where the tango was born) at the time was bad and getting worse. The overall character of my Black Tango reflects the dark times that Argentines have had to live with.”

Orion’s 25th anniversary season
Orion’s 2017–18 season, which includes violist Stephen Boe on all programs, continues with “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.

Performance and ticket information
The Orion Ensemble’s concert program “Let’s Tango” takes place Sunday, November 5 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Geneva-Chapelstreet Church, 2300 South Street in Geneva; Wednesday, November 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago; and Sunday, November 12 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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