July, 2022

Thirty years ago, three young artists who were passionate about chamber music decided to present a concert of chamber works for violin, clarinet and piano—an unusual combination at the time--with so many new possibilities. Shortly after their first appearance, Orion included viola and cello, and the possibilities became endless.

Together with you, our audiences the Orion Ensemble became a landmark in Chicago's rich cultural life, and through our live broadcasts on WFMT and streaming, we are reaching people throughout the world. Our Twilight of the Romantics CD (Cedille Records) received high praises from Gramophone Magazine in London. We collaborated with some of the world’s most acclaimed artists, including Dale Clevenger, Alex Klein, Michel Debost, Ian Maksin, Julia Bentley, Stephen Boe, Mathias Tacke, Patrice Michaels, Julian Gray, Kuang-Hao Huang, and many more. We created a unique and robust educational partnership program that inspires young musicians. 

And, most importantly, we expanded the repertoire for this instrumentation; we have premiered dozens of works written for us by composers including Augusta Read Thomas, Robert Kritz, Sebastian Huydts, Justinian Tamusuza, Jackson Berkey, Ilya Levinson, James Wintle, Miguel De La Cerna and so many others.

We couldn’t have done it without you, our incredible audiences, board members and supporters, along with the Illinois Arts Council, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the John R. Halligan Charitable Fund and the Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation Fund. 

The powerful intimacy of chamber music has been at the heart of our fantastic journey and we would like to once again extend our deepest gratitude to all our musicians, sponsors, donors and volunteers who have contributed to our success!


We are so happy to have you with us for Orion’s 30th season, promising a musical celebration to be remembered!

Please join us for our opening Gala Concert on September 25 at 3 p.m. at the New England Congregational Church in Aurora, followed by a special reception. You can reserve your gala tickets now and subscribe to the rest of this celebratory season, filled with beloved chamber music works!

— Florentina, Kathy, Judy and Diana




Student chamber ensembles join Orion for May concerts.

Orion welcomes guest violist Roger Chase, featured in a Q&A in our April e-newsletter.

Check out our recent reviews! Third Coast Review and Chicago Splash Magazine

Orion discusses playing LIVE--and reaching a larger audience via livestreaming

Orion announces 2021–22 Concert Season: In-Person, Live-Streamed in Chicago, Evanston and Aurora

Livestreamed music: a lifeline during difficult times. Orion reviews the season and looks ahead.

Teaching students: pandemic style. Orion's education program hasn't missed a beat. Read about it, here.

After two succesful live and livestream concerts, Orion presents April 18 program

Orion's February live and livestream concert is a romantic program to lift hearts and spirits; read more!

Orion presents all-Beethoven live and livestream concert October 6, featuring pianist Kuang-Hao Huang

A Q&A features Orion's clarinetist, Kathryne Pirtle, talking about performing with her daughter, jazz vocalist Morgan Pirtle 

Enjoy solos from Kathy and Diana from their home studios in these videos

Orion Ensemble cancels May concerts

Chicago Composer Sebastian Huydts discusses collaborating with Orion, in our February newsletter.

Student musicians learn from Orion

Hear Orion perform live on the program Live from WFMT tonight, Monday, Nov. 18. at 8 pm.

How do we create our concert programs? We talk about it in our November e-newsletter.

Get to know Guest Artist Josh Graham, joining Orion on Marimba and Percussion.

Learn more about Nadia Boulanger—an overlooked musical artist, here.

Our performance venues each have special qualities. Read more in our September e-newsletter.

Our May e-newsletter features a Q&A with violist Stephen Boe.

Read the Q&A with Orion cellist Judy Stone in our April e-newsletter.

Check out a Q&A with Orion pianist Diana Schmück in our March e-newsletter.

Read a review of Orion's Sept. 23 concert, by Chicago Classical Review.

Third Coast Review published a major feature on Orion— a look back at our history.

The Chicago Tribune interviewed Ensemble members Kathryne Pirtle and Diana Schmuck, as well as frequent guest violist Stephen Boe, for a story published before our season-opening concerts. Read the article here.

Check out Orion's September e-newsletter - a Q&A with Orion clarinetist, executive director and co-founder, Kathryne Pirtle.

Read a Q&A about the guest artist on our November concert series, cellist Ian Maksin.

Orion violinist Florentina Ramniceanu is featured in a Q&A in our November e-newsletter.

2022-2023 Season

Concert 1
with Stephen Boe (viola)
Concert 2
with Stephen Boe (viola)
Concert 3
Concert 4
with Stephen Boe (viola), Robert Kassinger (bass), Gregory Flint (horn), and Andrei Muravev (bassoon)

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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, the Illinois Arts Council and generous donations from our dedicated patrons.