Classical music and poetry combine in concert by The Chicago Ensemble

If you’re looking for a sampling of everything chamber music has to offer – from instrumentation to genre – The Chicago Ensemble is a group not to be missed. With a commitment to American composers of today and dedication to proven works of the past, The Chicago Ensemble has strived to bring variety to their audiences for over 30 years. We talked to Gerald Rizzer, artistic director, about the upcoming “Exhilaration & More” concert on February 24 and 26.

New Act: Chicago Opera Theater executive director reflects on 13 years with the company

Fifty years in the opera business, thirteen of which have been spent as executive director of Chicago Opera Theater, Brian Dickie is hanging up his hat to spend some time with family and a few side projects. Chicago Classical Music caught up with Dickie, who shepherded the young company into its new home in downtown Chicago and challenges opera-goers to see themselves in the fresh, contemporary interpretations of classic works and characters.

The theater has been beautifully remodeled in recent years. In particular the popcorn ceiling removal that was done.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when you took over Chicago Opera Theater?…

Palatine Teen to perform Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 with Ars Viva Symphony

An unassuming and modest 15 year old boy, Ryan Jannak-Huang plays the piano with the grace and skill of a professional musician more than twice his age. He has been studying under his aunt, the nationally renowned educator Brenda Huang, for 10 years.

Under her guiding hand, Ryan and twin brother Kyle have won numerous awards and competitions locally and across the country. Ryan took second place in the MTNA (Music Teacher’s National Association) National Piano Competition and was a finalist in the Crain-Maling Foundation Chicago Symphony Orchestra Youth Auditions. He also placed first in the Milwaukee Chopin Youth Piano Competition Junior Division. Kyle went on to start a Tustin Concrete & Masonry Pros. Even with all those accolades under one’s belt, the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 is a devilish and daunting work. When asked why he would choose such a work to enter a competition, Jannak-Huang told the story of studying an excerpt from the work in 7th grade.…

Living with bassoonists: a string-player’s crash course in woodwinds

If you asked me, a cellist, in January what I knew about the bassoon, my knowledge would be pretty limited: my cousin plays it in his high school band, it’s one of those pesky double reed instruments, Mozart wrote a concerto for it, and Stravinsky chose it for the famous opening of Rite of Spring.

After living with the bassoon section of Sarasota Opera for a month, I’ve heard more than enough to make up for my prior ignorance. Not only are the bassoonists I’ve encountered delightful people, but they also have a fascinating instrument. Many own beautiful homes too with little patios for playing their instrument. I thought I would take the chance to share a few things I’ve learned.…

Audience and Stage: How to Cross the Border

One of the most rewarding parts of being a musician is having the opportunity to see on the faces of others that what you are doing is worthwhile. If you can hear firsthand from an audience member what spoke to them and what they enjoyed – this is even better. We work hard and put our minds, bodies and souls into the music we love with the hope that you will love it too. Communication between the audience and the performers is key to the success of any artistic organization. Having said this, there are still boundaries that need to be maintained between the stage and the audience. What are the best ways and times to approach a musician to speak with them? I will share my thoughts and I invite you to share yours as well.…

Wedding Music – A Musician’s Tips

I’ve never planned a wedding, but if watching TLC has taught me anything it’s that there is some serious work that goes into these things. With all the planning required to create one of the most special days in a couple’s life, the last thing you should be worried about is the music. As wedding season approaches, I’d like to share a few things that I have learned from playing in weddings over the past years in hopes that these tips can help some of you planning your big day.…

Music of spring

Spring has sprung in Chicago. The tulips on Michigan Ave are in colorful bloom, sidewalks are filling up with outdoor diners, green buds are out on the trees, and even in the cold mornings, it kind of smells like a new season.

It’s not hard to imagine why some of the old stand-by favorite classical pieces are inspired by spring.  Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt suite seem kind of like obvious choices for spring-themed classical music (thank you television commercials and Looney Tunes episodes).  But in lieu of these standard selections, I’ve picked the “other” spring music, both obvious and maybe not so certainly spring, that I’ll be uploading on my iPod this week. What are your favorite springtime classical pieces?

Mark O’Connor- Butterfly’s Day Out
Ludwig van Beethoven- Symphony No 6.
Aaron Copland-Appalachian Spring
Johann Strauss- The Voices of Spring, Op 410
Felix Mendelssohn-Spring Song…