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Northwestern's Winter Chamber Music Festival

Six-concert series to feature cellist Lynn Harrell, three top quartets and CSO members

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November 17, 2011 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- When do you get to see and hear world-renowned cellist Lynn Harrell playing with eight members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) all on one program? At Northwestern University’s 2012 Winter Chamber Music Festival (WCMF) on Jan. 15.

The artistry of Harrell, internationally acclaimed string ensembles and leading musicians from the CSO and Bienen School of Music draws Chicago area and North Shore classical music fans to Northwestern’s Evanston campus each January. 

Approaching its 16th year, the festival is presented by the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music, and will feature six concerts from Jan. 6 to Jan. 22. 

“The festival will open with the Cecilia String Quartet, the First Prize winners of the 2010 Banff International String Quartet Competition, playing a new work by award-winning Chicago composer Stacy Garrop,” said violinist Blair Milton, who organized the festival. “It will close with the St. Lawrence String Quartet performing the Chicago premiere of a piece by Osvaldo Golijov, who is in great demand.”

Milton, an associate professor of music performance at the Bienen School and a CSO member since 1975, has directed the annual Winter Chamber Music Festival since it was launched in 1996. He tries hard to always bring something new and stimulating to the series. “The festival has grown and featured a lot of repertoire and many wonderful artists over the years.”

Audiences at the 2012 Winter Chamber Music Festival will hear a piano quintet by Cesar Franck that will be performed for the first time in nearly a decade as well as cellist Lynn Harrell. Harrell is returning for his third WCMF appearance and performing with the new Chicago Symphony Orchestra associate concertmaster and violinist Stephanie Jeong and seven other CSO musicians.

All of the festival’s Friday and Sunday evening concerts will take place on the University’s Evanston campus in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, at 50 Arts Circle Drive.

A Jan. 6 pre-concert discussion by composer Stacy Garrop (see below) and three admission-free master classes led by cellist Harrell will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11; 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12; and 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, in Regenstein Recital Hall, 60 Arts Circle Drive. 

2011 Winter Chamber Music Festival events:

• 6:45 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6 – Chicago composer Stacy Garrop, whose String Quartet No. 4 is featured on the Cecilia String Quartet’s Jan. 6 program (see below), will discuss her work during a pre-concert talk. Garrop’s music has been performed by orchestras, chamber ensembles and choruses throughout the country. Admission is free.

7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6 – The Cecilia String Quartet -- comprised of violinists Min-Jeong Koh and Sarah Nematallah, violist Caitlin Boyle and cellist Rachel Desoer -- has performed around the globe, and is the Resident String Quartet at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Besides taking top honors at the 2010 Banff International String Quartet Competition, the quartet has received prizes at the Bordeaux International String Competition and the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition. Their program features Mozart’s String Quartet No. 16 in E-flat Major; Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 7 in F-sharp Minor; Garrop’s String Quartet No. 4; and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 16 in F Major. Tickets are $22 for the general public and $10 for students with IDs.

• 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8 – Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Bienen School faculty members will perform Penderecki’s Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Cello; Kodaly’s Duo for Violin and Cello; and Franck’s Piano Quintet in F Minor. The concert features pianist Andrea Swan, violinists Blair Milton and Lei Hou, violist Yukiko Ogura, cellist Stephen Balderston and clarinetist J. Lawrie Bloom. Tickets are $22 for the general public and $10 for students with IDs. 

7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13 – The festival’s third concert will feature Bienen School faculty members, including pianists James Giles and Toni-Marie Montgomery; soprano Nancy Gustafson; oboist Scott Hostetler; clarinetist J. Lawrie Bloom; bassoonist Lewis Kirk; hornist Gail Williams; violinist Gerardo Ribeiro; violist Carol Cook; cellist Kenneth Olsen and harpist Sarah Bullen. The program features Martinu’s Musique de Chambre No. 1 for Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello, Harp and Piano; Respighi’s Violin Sonata in B Minor; Respighi’s “Io sono la Madre,” “In alto mare” and “Nebbie” for voice and piano; and Beethoven’s Quintet in E-flat Major for Piano and Winds. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $10 for students with IDs.

7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15 – Lynn Harrell, one of the world’s top cellists, has performed with renowned symphonies throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. His extensive discography of more than 30 recordings includes the complete Bach Cello Suites and collaborations with notable conductors, including Sir Neville Marriner, Sir Simon Rattle and Leonard Slatkin. Harrell is the recipient of the first ever Avery Fisher Prize and a Ford Foundation Concert Artists’ Award. Harrell will perform with special guest artists, including pianist Rieko Aizawa, violinist Stephanie Jeong and cellists Loren Brown, Daniel Katz, Kenneth Olsen, Jonathan Pegis, John Sharp, Gary Stucka and Brant Taylor. The program includes Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras” No. 1; Menotti’s Suite for Two Cellos and Piano; Beethoven’s Sonata No. 3 in A Major for Cello and Piano; and Dvorak’s Piano Trio No. 4 in E Minor (“Dumky”). Tickets are $28 for the general public and $10 for students with IDs.

7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20 – The Lincoln String Quartet is comprised of current and former Chicago Symphony Orchestra members, including violinists Lei Hou and Qing Hou, violist Lawrence Neuman and cellist Kenneth Olsen. The quartet will perform with Bienen School faculty pianist Alan Chow, clarinetist Steven Cohen, hornist Gail Williams and bassoonist Christopher Millard. The program includes Bliss’ Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet; Janacek’s Concertino for Piano, Two Violins, Viola, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon; and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 6 in B-flat Major. Tickets are $22 for the general public and $10 for students with IDs.

7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22 – The St. Lawrence String Quartet will conclude the festival with a program that includes Haydn’s String Quartet No. 5 in F Minor; Golijov’s new String Quartet; and Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 14 in A-flat Major. The quartet performs more than 120 worldwide concerts annually and has been honored with the German Record Critics’ Award, Canada’s Juno Award and top honors in the Banff International String Quartet Competition. The ensemble is comprised of violinists Geoff Nuttall and Scott St. John, violist Lesley Robertson and cellist Christopher Costanza. Tickets are $26 for the general public and $10 for students with IDs.

The subscription price for the 2012 six-concert series, which includes prime reserved seating and a savings of up to 12 percent off single-ticket prices, is $122 for the general public and $54 for students with IDs. Northwestern faculty and staff who present a valid WildCARD receive a 15 percent discount off the general-public price for single tickets only.

For more information on the 2012 Winter Chamber Music Festival, visit http://www.pickstaiger.org/events/winter-chamber-music-festival or call the Pick-Staiger Concert Office at (847) 491-5441 or visit www.pickstaiger.org. To order a subscription or single tickets, call the Pick-Staiger Ticket Office at (847) 467-4000; to order single tickets online, visit www.pickstaiger.org.

Topics: Campus Life