Classical Music News of the Week, July 8, 2012

Orion Ensemble Celebrates 20 Years of Chamber Music Gems

The 2012–13 season features Miguel de la Cerna
world-premiere commission and soprano Patrice Michaels.

Celebrating 20 years of chamber music gems, The Orion
Ensemble, Chicago’s nationally recognized and critically acclaimed chamber
music ensemble, presents a season of concerts that traces its history, welcomes
respected guest musicians and concludes with a world premiere commission by
Chicago jazz musician Miguel de la Cerna.

Orion will perform each of its four concert programs at
venues spanning the Chicagoland area: Ganz Memorial Hall at Roosevelt
University and the PianoForte Salon (Chicago); the Music Institute of Chicago’s
Nichols Concert Hall (Evanston); and Fox Valley Presbyterian Church (Geneva).

The season opens with “Orion Beginnings,” featuring a trio
and a quartet Orion performed during its early seasons, along with a quintet
commissioned for the Ensemble’s 10th anniversary: Bela Bartók’s Contrasts for Clarinet, Violin and Piano
(1938); Sebastian Huydts’ Quintet for
Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano
, a 2002 Orion commission; and
Robert Schumann’s Quartet in E-flat Major
for Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano
, Op. 47. Stephen Boe joins Orion as
violist for this program. Performances take place October 10 (Ganz
Hall/Chicago), 14 (Geneva) and 21 (Evanston).

Guest violist Roger Chase and Boe, this time on violin,
perform with Orion on its second concert program, “A Night at the Opera.” The
program includes Carl Maria von Weber’s
Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet
, Op. 34; Franz Liszt’s “Am Stillen
Herd,” S. 448, for solo piano, from Wagner’s Die Meistersinger; and Giuseppi Verdi’s String Quartet in E Minor (1873). Performances are November 25
(Geneva), December 2 (Evanston) and December 5 (PianoForte Salon/Chicago).

For Women’s History Month, the women of Orion welcome
guest soprano Patrice Michaels for “A Voice from Heaven,” performing Franz
Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Felsen for
Soprano, Clarinet and Piano
, D. 965; Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Three Vocalises for Soprano and Clarinet
(1958); three arias—by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Vincenzo Righini and Vincente
Martin y Soler—from Michaels’ Cedille CD Divas
of Mozart’s Day
, arranged for Orion by Pete La Bella; and two works by
Dmitri Shostakovich: “Music” from Seven
Romances on Verses by Alexander Blok for Voice, Violin, Cello and Piano,

Op. 127, No. 7 (1967), and Trio in E
Minor for Violin, Cello and Piano
, Op. 67, No. 2. Performances are March 10
(Geneva), 13 (PianoForte Salon/Chicago) and 17 (Evanston).

After his triumphant first work for Orion during the
2011–12 season, Miguel de la Cerna returns to contribute an as-yet untitled
20th anniversary commission to “Folk Inspirations with a Mexican Flair.” Also
on the program, which welcomes back violist Stephen Boe, are Arturo Márquez’s Zarabandeo for Clarinet and Piano;
Manuel Ponce’s Piano Trio
(Romantico); and Johannes Brahms’ Quartet
in G Minor for Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano
, Op. 25. Performances are May
5 (Geneva), May 8 (Ganz Hall/Chicago) and May 12 (Evanston).

Also during the season, Orion will appear on the broadcast
series “Live from WFMT” November 26 and May 6 and in the Chicago Cultural
Center’s Lunchbreak Series “Classical Mondays” October 15 and November 19.
Orion also tours, performing in chamber music series across the country. Its
most recent CD is Twilight of the

Founded in 1992, the Orion Ensemble boasts a roster of
five superb musicians—Kathryne Pirtle (clarinet), Florentina Ramniceanu
(violin), Diana Schmück (piano), Judy Stone (cello) and Jennifer Marlas
(viola)—who have performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, National
Symphony, Moscow Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Lyric Opera
Orchestra and Chicago’s Music of the Baroque orchestra, and at music festivals
including Ravinia, Aspen, Mostly Mozart, Hollywood Bowl, Taos Chamber Music,
Salzburg and Banff. 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 received a Chamber Music America/ASCAP
Award for Adventurous Programming for its critically acclaimed millennium
celebration, “An Inside Look at Contemporary Music.” The Orion Ensemble is
supported in part by grants from the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture, the
Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council.

The Orion Ensemble performs each concert program during
the 2012–13 season at four Chicago-area venues: Roosevelt University’s Ganz
Memorial Hall, 430 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago on Wednesdays, October 10 and
May 8 at 7:30 p.m.; the PianoForte Salon at the Fine Arts Building, 410 S.
Michigan Avenue in Chicago on Wednesdays, December 5 and March 13 at 7:30 p.m.;
the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in
Evanston on Sundays, October 21 (7:30 p.m.), December 2 (3 p.m.), March 17 (3
p.m.) and May 12 (7:30 p.m.); and Fox Valley Presbyterian Church, 227 East Side
Drive in Geneva on Sundays, October 14, November 25, March 10 and May 5 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

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Music and Health Symposium Hosted by Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

“Music, the Brain, Medicine and Wellness: A Scientific
Dialogue”: Scientists and musicians set to collaborate and explore effects of
music on brain development, health, and the community.

“Music, the Brain, Medicine and Wellness: A Scientific
Dialogue,” an innovative, three-day scientific symposium sponsored by the Santa
Fe Chamber Music Festival, the University of New Mexico Cancer Center, and
Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research will be held August 4-6, 2012,
in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

This pioneering event will offer presentations by the
world's leading figures in music therapy, psychological science, neuroscience
and cognitive science. As part of the Festival’s 40th Anniversary season, the
Symposium will include public events involving musicians and scientists as well
as private sessions for the scientific and medical community. The Symposium
will explore the effects of music on cognitive development, early childhood
brain development, emotion, language and memory; the ability of music to
advance the overall health and healing process of individuals facing cancer,
developmental and cognitive disorders, or chronic health conditions; and the
capacity of music to improve the general well-being of individuals and
communities. Physicians attending the Symposium can also earn Continuing
Medical Education credit.

The Symposium features an intensive cross-disciplinary
exchange, defining the current state of the science and identifying the most
important questions for future collaborative research and its clinical
applications through presentations, demonstrations and concert performances. A
number of internationally recognized artists will perform and participate in
interactive panels including conductor Alan Gilbert (Music Director of the New
York Philharmonic), members of the legendary former Guarneri String Quartet
(who are reuniting for this Festival performance), composer Marc Neikrug
(Artistic Director of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival) and pianist Inon
Barnatan. As an interactive element of the conference, these artists and others
will add a performance element to the mix, giving members of the medical
community an opportunity to present their research in real-time with the aid of
live performance during sessions.

The Symposium begins Friday, August 3, 2012 at 6:00 PM,
with a Pre-Symposium Evening Concert open to the public at St. Francis
Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art. Kamal R. Chémali, MD and pianist Prisca
Benoit will present “When Music Sings, the Brain Listens and the Heart

Learn more at and

--Patrick Gullo, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Philharmonic Fosters Musicians Through Summer Programs

This summer, the National Philharmonic will engage some of
the area’s most promising young musicians through its String and Choral
Institutes. The institutes, for middle/high school string players and high
school/college vocalists, nurture young talent and teach musical skills and
techniques while preparing the participants for a performance. In addition, the
National Philharmonic offers the Adult Summer Chorale Institute, whose
participants work with National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan
Engebretson. “Nurturing the next generation of audiences and performers is at
the heart of our mission in the community,” said National Philharmonic’s Music
Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski.

The High School/College Summer Choral Institute (July
23-27, 2012, Monday-Friday from 2:30-8:30 pm, Montgomery College, Rockville
Campus) offers young singers entering grade 9 through graduating grade 12 an
intensive, weeklong immersion in voice building, musical interpretation and
performance techniques. The institute, produced through a partnership between
the National Philharmonic and Montgomery College, is led by Dr. Engebretson;
Dr. Molly Donnelly, a Professor of Music at Montgomery College; Victoria Gau,
Associate Conductor of the National Philharmonic; Ronald Frezzo, Vocal and
International Baccalaureate Music Instructor at Richard Montgomery High School;
and Theodore Guerrant, Accompanying Program Specialist at the University of
Maryland School of Music. The High School and College Choral Institute Chorus
will sing works including Pachelbel’ s Nun
Danket Alle Gott
; Eric Whitacre’s Five
Hebrew Love Songs
; Jacques Offenbach’s Neighbors'
; Lars Jansson’s To the Mothers
in Brazil and Leonard Bernstein’s
choruses from Candide. The week
culminates in a free public concert at Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center
in Silver Spring, MD on Friday, July 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm.

The Adult Summer Choral Institute (July 17, 19, 24 and 26,
2012, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9:30 pm, Music Building of Montgomery
College’s Rockville Campus) offers adult singers (college age and over) from
around the area an opportunity to sing with members of the National
Philharmonic Chorale under Dr. Engebretson in four intensive rehearsals over
two weeks. The Adult Choral Institute will sing movements from Schubert’s Magnificat; Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine; Mendelssohn’s Verleih’ uns Frieden; and Bernstein’s Make Our Garden Grow. The week culminates in a free public concert
with the High School/College Choral Institute at Montgomery College Cultural
Arts Center in Silver Spring, MD on Friday, July 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm.

The Summer String Institutes (High School String Institute
July 30-August 3, 2012; Middle School String Institute August 6-10, 2012,
Trinity Lutheran Church, 11200 Old Georgetown Road, North Bethesda, MD, 20852)
immerse talented and aspiring middle school and high school string musicians in
an intensive week of mentoring, chamber music coaching, individual lessons and
rehearsals led by National Philharmonic Music Director & Conductor Piotr
Gajewski; Philharmonic Associate Conductor and String Institutes Director
Victoria Gau; musicians of the Philharmonic and other well-known music
pedagogues.  The High School String
Institute will study and perform Mozart’s Divertimento
in B-flat Major
, K. 137; Georg Philipp Telemann’s Concerto in G Major for Viola; Edward Elgar’s Serenade for Strings, and Arthur Foote’s Suite in E Major; the Junior High School will study and perform
Percy Grainger’s Molly on the Shore;
George Frideric Handel’s Concerto Grosso,
Op. 6, No. 1; Krzysztof  Penderecki’s Three Pieces in Baroque Style; and Michael McLean’s Fandango.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the High School
String Institute and the 14th year of the Middle School String Institute. The
High School String Institute will culminate in a free public performance at the
Trinity Lutheran Church, 11200 Old Georgetown Road, North Bethesda, MD, 20852
on Friday, August 3 at 7:30 pm and on Friday, August 10 at 7:30 pm for the
middle school session. For more information on the Summer String and Choral
Institutes, please visit

Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

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