The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, devotes its 21st season to “Musical Travels,” featuring Beethoven’s String Trios, which are rarely performed as a cycle, and works by Brahms, Hindemith, Stravinsky and Gershwin. Addison's own Kathryne Pirtle, clarinetist, is a founding member.
Orion will perform each concert program at venues spanning the Chicago area, including new venues in downtown Chicago and the western suburbs. They are PianoForte Studios and Sherwood, the Community Music School at Columbia College, both in Chicago; First Baptist Church of Geneva; and Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Charles. The ensemble returns to the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston.
The season opens with “Celebrating Brahms,” featuring the composer’s Trio in A Minor for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op. 114 and his Trio in E-flat Major for Horn, Violin and Piano, Op. 40, along with Schoenfield’s "Café Music" for Violin, Cello and Piano (1986).
Joining Orion is guest horn Gregory Flint, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and member of the award-winning Asbury Brass Quintet, Tower Brass of Chicago and Fulcrum Point Brass Quintet. Performances take place Sept. 8 (Geneva), Sept. 11 (PianoForte/Chicago) and Sept. 22 (Evanston).
Orion’s second concert program, “Danube Destinations,” welcomes guest violist Stephen Boe, a member of The Chicago Ensemble who teaches at the Music Institute of Chicago. The program includes Beethoven’s Trio in G Major for Violin, Viola and Cello, Op. 9 No. 1; two works by Hindemith: Duett for Viola and Cello (1934) and Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano (1938); and Mozart’s Quartet in G Minor for Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano, K. 478. Performances are Oct. 27 (Evanston), Nov. 3 (Geneva) and Nov. 6 (Sherwood/Chicago).
For “Sounds of Russia,” Orion performs with guest pianist Sebastian Huydts, an associate professor at the Music Center of Columbia College Chicago who regularly performs with CUBE Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, as well as guest violist Boe and a guest narrator from the Chicago High School for the Arts.
The program includes Beethoven’s Trio in D Major for Violin, Viola and Cello, Op. 9 No. 2; Stravinsky’s Suite from "L’Histoire du Soldat" for Clarinet, Violin and Piano (1918); and Rachmaninoff’s Suite No. 2 for Two Pianos, Op. 17. Performances are March 9 (St. Charles), March 12 (Sherwood/Chicago) and March 16 (Evanston).
The season concludes with “Czech and American Romance,” with violist Boe joining Orion for Beethoven’s Trio in C Minor for Violin, Viola and Cello, Op. 9 No. 3; Amon’s Quartet in E-flat Major for Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Cello, Op. 106, No. 2; Gershwin’s Three Preludes, arranged for Clarinet and Piano; and Dvorak’s Quartet in E-flat Major for Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano, Op. 87. Performances are May 25 (St. Charles), May 28 (PianoForte/Chicago) and June 1 (Evanston).
Also during the season, Orion will appear on the broadcast series “Live from WFMT” in November, on a date yet to be determined, and on March 24. Orion, which performs in chamber music series across the country, most recently released the CD "Twilight of the Romantics."
Founded in 1992, The Orion Ensemble features four noted musicians —Kathryne Pirtle (clarinet), Florentina Ramniceanu (violin), Diana Schmück (piano) and Judy Stone (cello).
Concert season and venues
• PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago; 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Sept. 11 and May 28
• The Recital Hall at Sherwood, The Community Music School of Columbia College Chicago, 1312 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago; 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Nov. 6 and March 12
• The Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston; 7:30 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 22, Oct. 27, March 16 and June 1
• First Baptist Church of Geneva, 2300 South St., Geneva; 7 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 8 and Nov. 3
• Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Ave., St. Charles; 7 p.m. Sundays, March 9 and May 25
Single tickets cost $26, $23 for seniors, and $10 for students; they are free to 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.