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The Orion Ensemble 30th Anniversary Season Continues In Aurora, Chicago, And Evanston

The Chicago and Evanston performances also will be available via livestream.

The Orion Ensemble 30th Anniversary Season Continues In Aurora, Chicago, And Evanston

The Orion Ensemble's 30th anniversary season continues with two virtuosic trios at three venues: New England Congregational Church in Aurora (March 5), PianoForte Studios in Chicago (March 8) and Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston (March 12). The Chicago and Evanston performances also will be available via livestream.

Tchaikovsky composed the Trio in A minor, called the "Rubinstein," in memory of pianist, composer, conductor and Moscow Conservatory Co-Founder Nikolai Rubinstein (1835-81), his mentor and close friend. Rubinstein appointed Tchaikovsky Professor of Harmony at the conservatory, and this appointment formed the basis of much of the composer's career. The Trio is teeming with melodic invention, from the opening Pezzo elegiaco, a darker beginning of yearning expressions, to the lighter expressions of the variations of the second movement. The Trio also features moments of a funeral march, a touching and poignant contrast that reveals Tchaikovsky's many feelings for his beloved friend.

The Suite for Violin, Clarinet and Piano by Alexander Arutiunian (1920-2012) offers exotic Armenian expressions. Composed in 1993, each movement of this chamber suite highlights vivid and varied tonal marvels. The opening Introduction features the darker tones of the piano, the Scherzo brings graceful contrapuntal musings, and the Dialog brings a wonderfully inventive discourse between the violin and clarinet-a brief transition to the highly innovative dance rhythms of the finale.

Joining Orion musicians Kathryne Pirtle on clarinet, Florentina Ramniceanu on violin and Diana Schmück on piano is guest cellist Mara McClain, a member of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra from 2006 to 2018. She recently relocated to Chicago with her husband, Avi Friedlander, also a cellist and the new director of the Music Institute of Chicago's Barston Suzuki Program. She was the principal cellist of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago as well as the Pacific Music Festival and Spoleto USA. She currently freelances in Chicago with the Lyric Opera Orchestra, Joffrey Ballet Orchestra, the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, The Milwaukee Symphony, the Chicago Philharmonic and The Atlanta Symphony. She studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

The livestreams from Chicago and Evanston will be available free (donations are welcome at orionensemble.org/donate) on Orion's YouTube channel, which will also host a recording of the performance for a limited time.

The Orion Ensemble performs Concert 3 of its 30th anniversary season

Sunday, March 5 at 7 p.m. at

New England Congregational Church, 406 W. Galena Boulevard, Aurora;

Wednesday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m. at

PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago;

and Sunday, March 12 at 7:30 p.m. at

Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston.

Tickets are $30, $25 for seniors (65+) and $15 for students (13+);

children 12 and younger are free.

Flexible four-ticket subscriptions, valid for any date or venue,

are $110, $90 for seniors, $50 for students.

Tickets are available at 630-628-9591 or info@orionensemble.org.

The livestream will be available free on Orion's YouTube channel;

donations are welcome at orionensemble.org/donate.

All programming is subject to change; for information visit orionensemble.org/.

The Orion Ensemble started 30 years ago when a trio of 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. Shortly afterward, the trio added cello and viola, and the possibilities became endless. Since then, they have become a landmark in Chicago's rich cultural life, reaching listeners throughout the U.S. and Europe. They have 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. The ensemble has also expanded the repertoire for this instrumentation, premiering dozens of works written for them by composers such as Augusta Read Thomas, Robert Kritz, Sebastian Huydts, Justinian Tamusuza, Jackson Berkey, Ilya Levinson, James Wintle, Miguel de la Cerna and many others.

Winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming for its critically acclaimed millennium celebration "An Inside Look at Contemporary Music," Orion features a roster of four acclaimed musicians-Kathryne Pirtle (clarinet), Florentina Ramniceanu (violin), 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, the John R. Halligan Charitable Fund, the Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation Fund and generous donations from its patrons. For a brief history, click here.



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