Classical News of the Week: July 17, 2011

Spanish Flair, Classical Romance, Women Composers, and "All That Jazz" on Tap for Orion Ensemble's 2011-2012 Season

CHICAGO—The Orion Ensemble, Chicago's nationally recognized and critically acclaimed chamber music ensemble, presents Chamber Treasures Meet Chicago Jazz, its 19th season of concerts, featuring Spanish compositions, a tribute to women composers, a jazz-focused program and more.

Orion will perform each of its four concert programs at venues spanning the Chicagoland area: Ganz Memorial Hall at Roosevelt University, where Orion is Ensemble-in-Residence at the Chicago College of Performing Arts (Chicago); the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall (Evanston); and Fox Valley Presbyterian Church (Geneva).

The season opens with "Spanish Flair," featuring two piano trios by Catalan composers and two additional early 20th century works. The program includes Trio in C Major for Violin, Cello and Piano (1926) by Gaspar Cassadó; Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano (1932) by Aram Khachaturian; Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo (1920) by Igor Stravinsky; and Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 50 (1910) by Enrique Granados. Performances take place September 25 (Evanston), October 5 (Chicago) and October 9 (Geneva).

"Classical Romance" describes the season's second concert program, featuring three pieces for three instruments each: Trio in B-flat Major for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op. 11 by Ludwig van Beethoven; Trio in B-flat Major for Violin, Viola and Cello, D. 581 by Franz Schubert; and Trio in D Major ("Ghost") for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 70, No. 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven. Performances are November 20 (Evanston), November 27 (Geneva) and November 30 (Chicago).

In honor of Women's History Month, Orion will be "Celebrating Women Composers" in March, performing Silver Dagger for Violin, Cello and Piano (2009) by Stacy Garrop; Trio in E-flat Major for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op. 44 by Louise Farrenc; Air and Variations for Violin, Clarinet and Piano (1957) by Phyllis Tate; and Trio in D Minor for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 11 by Fanny Mendelssohn. Performances are March 4 (Geneva), March 11 (Evanston) and March 14 (Chicago).

Guest pianist Miguel de la Cerna contributes a work commissioned for Orion and performs with the Ensemble for the final program, "All That Jazz!", which also features Quartet in C Minor for Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano, Op. 15 by Gabriel Fauré and Rhapsody in Blue for Clarinet and Piano (1924) by George Gershwin, arranged by Timofei Dokshitser. Performances are May 6 (Evanston), May 9 (Chicago) and May 13 (Geneva).

Also during the season, Orion will appear on the broadcast series "Live from WFMT" December 5, 2011 and March 12, 2012 and in the Chicago Cultural Center's Lunchbreak Series "Classical Mondays" October 31 and November 21, 2011. Orion also tours, performing in chamber music series across the country. Its most recent CD is Twilight of the Romantics.

The Orion Ensemble performs each concert program during the 2011–12 season at three Chicago-area venues: Roosevelt University's Ganz Memorial Hall, 430 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago on Wednesdays, October 5, November 30, March 14 and May 9 at 7:30 p.m.; the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston on Sundays, September 25, November 20, March 11 and May 6 at 7:30 p.m.; and Fox Valley Presbyterian Church, 227 East Side Drive in Geneva on Sundays, October 9, November 27, March 4 and May 13 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 ten-percent savings on full-priced tickets. For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

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Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
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For over 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me--point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

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I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

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