Orion Ensemble Celebrates Chicago Composers For 22nd Season

July 24, 2014

CHICAGO—The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, announces its 22nd season: A Taste of Chicago, A World of Romance, spotlighting Chicago composers Jim Gailloreto, Sebastian Huydts, Stacy Garrop and Marc Mellits.

Orion will perform each of its four concert programs at venues spanning the Chicagoland area, including two in downtown Chicago—the PianoForte Studios and Sherwood, the Community Music School at Columbia College Chicago—as well as the First Baptist Church of Geneva and the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston.

The season opens with “Stepping Out,” welcoming three guest musicians: bassist Robert Kassinger, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and an avid chamber and jazz musician; pianist Sebastian Huydts, director of keyboard studies at the Music Center of Columbia College Chicago and concert and chamber musician; and violinist/violist Stephen Boe, a sought-after chamber musician who teaches at the Music Institute of Chicago. The program includes Jim Gailloreto’s Jazz Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Cello (2014); John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” arranged for Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Cello by Gailloreto (2014); Morton Gould’s “Benny’s Gig” for Clarinet and String Bass (1962); Dvorak’s Selected Slavonic Dances for Piano, Four Hands, Op. 72; and Franz Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet in A Major, Op. 114, D. 667. Performances take place September 28 (Geneva), October 1 (Sherwood/Chicago) and October 5 (Evanston).

Orion’s second concert program, “Rhapsody,” also welcomes guest violinist and violist Stephen Boe. The program features the world premiere of Sebastian Huydts’ Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano; Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins, Op. 56; Sergei Rachmaninov’s Vocalise for Cello and Piano, Op. 34, No. 14; Iwan Müller’s Quartet No. 1 in B-flat Major for Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Cello; and George Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody Op. 11, No. 1, arranged for Orion by Ilya Levinson and Peter Labella. Performances are November 23 (Evanston), November 30 (Geneva) and December 3 (Sherwood/Chicago).

As the title work for its third concert program, Orion performs Stacy Garrop’s “Jubilation” for Violin, Cello and Piano (2011); Emil Hartmann’s Serenade for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op. 24; and Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Archduke” Trio in B-flat Major for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 97. Performances are March 8 (Geneva), March 15 (Evanston) and March 18 (PianoForte/Chicago).

The season concludes with “Celebration,” with violist Stephen Boe joining Orion for Marc Mellits’ “Tapas” for Violin, Viola and Cello (2007); Rezsö Kókai’s Quartettino for Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Cello (1952); and Johannes Brahms’ Quartet in A Major for Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano, Op. 26. Also on the program is Paquito D’Rivera’s “Vals Venezolano” (1990) and “Contradanza” (1991) for Clarinet and Piano, arranged by Marco Rizo. Performances are May 24 (Geneva), May 27 (PianoForte/Chicago) and May 31 (Evanston).

Also during the season, Orion appears on the broadcast series “Live from WFMT” March 23 and June 1, 2015. Orion also tours, performing in chamber music series across the country. Its most recent CD is Twilight of the Romantics.

For the second year, Orion continues an initiative aiming to make chamber music more accessible. Janet’s Stage is a one-of-a-kind collaboration with the orchestra departments at partner high schools in Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles, with the Orion musicians 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.

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 five superb musicians—Kathryne Pirtle (clarinet), Florentina Ramniceanu (violin), Jennifer Marlas (viola—on sabbatical), 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 and generous donations from its patrons. For a brief history, click here.

The Orion Ensemble performs its 2014–15 concert programs at four Chicago-area venues: the Recital Hall at Sherwood, The Community Music School of Columbia College Chicago, 1312 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago on Wednesdays, October 1 and December 3 at 7:30 p.m.; the PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago on Wednesdays, March 18 and May 27 at 7:30 p.m.; the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston on Sundays, October 5, November 23, March 15 and May 31 at 7:30 p.m.; and First Baptist Church of Geneva, 2300 South Street in Geneva on Sundays, September 28, November 30, March 8 and May 24 at 7 p.m. Single tickets are $26, $23 for seniors and $10 for students; children 12 and younger are free. 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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