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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Picosa | A musical Mosaic | Chamber Mondays Series

By TOM BOWSER


The free Chamber Mondays Series hosts an interesting variety of musicians and musical styles. Concerts are held every Monday at 12:15 pm in the breathtaking Preston Bradley Hall of the Chicago Cultural Center. Concerts are sponsored by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). Chamber Monday concerts are a great lunch break if you work or attend school downtown. These concerts are also an excellent opportunity for music students to network, watch and learn from professional musicians.

Elizabeth Brausa BrathwaiT-Sara Sitzer-Joann Cho-Andrea DiOrio-Jennie Brown-Picosa-Chamber Mondays Concert Series - Chicago Cultural Center - Photo by Tom Bowser

Classical music needs to evolve in order to stay relevant and attract new, younger audiences. Ensembles like Picosa help expand the definition and perception of "classical" music. Picosa looks forward by choosing to play the works of contemporary composers using contemporary technologies. Picosa links the present and future with the past through it's performance of standard works composed by the "masters" of classical music. Visit PicosaMusic.com to learn more about Picosa.

Click the small images below to view a larger version.

Jeffrey Panko-Andrea DiOrio-Picosa-Chamber Mondays Concert Series - Chicago Cultural Center - Photo by Tom Bowser Elizabeth Brausa Brathwaite-Sara Sitzer-Joann Cho-Andrea DiOrio-Jennie Brown-Picosa-Chamber Mondays Concert Series - Chicago Cultural Center - Photo by Tom Bowser

Picosa played to a receptive and appreciative audience. Picosa's performances were well rehearsed and professionally presented (even though the room seemed unusually cold). I enjoyed the diversity of music they performed. It's always exciting to discover something new during my exploration of Chicago's music scene. Picosa performed works by a number of contemporary composers I had not previously heard of. Jonathon Kirks arrangement of Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun worked very nicely for the Picosa ensemble. My wife and I both enjoyed the concert. I highly recommend you schedule time to see a Picosa performance.

Elizabeth Brausa Brathwaite-Jeffrey Panko-Sara Sitzer-Picosa-Chamber Mondays Concert Series - Chicago Cultural Center - Photo by Tom Bowser


Mondays performance included a unique opportunity to hear flutist Jennie Brown perform "Wraith" accompanied by the composer Jonathon Kirk. Jonathon Kirk used contemporary digital effects technologies to interact and react in real time to Jennie Browns live, electronically modified flute performance. What makes this type of performance especially unique and interesting is it can never be performed exactly the same way twice. Cool! They both did a great job.

Click the image below to view a larger version.

Jennie Brown-Picosa-Chamber Mondays Concert Series - Chicago Cultural Center - Photo by Tom Bowser


Picosa:
  • Jennie Brown, flute
  • Andrea R. DiOrio, clarinet
  • Elizabeth Brausa Brathwaite, violin
  • Sara Sitzer, cello
  • Jeffrey Panko, piano
  • Joann Cho, piano
  • Jonathon Kirk, composer, electroncs


Picosa performed:

Hospital Suite for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano by Felipe Perez Santiago
- Vesiculobiliar
- Neurocardiogenico

Wraith for flute and electronics by Jonathon Kirk

Circulo, op. 91 for violin, cello, piano by Joaquin Turina
- Dawn
- Midday
- Dusk

Three Miniatures for clarinet and piano by Krzysztof Penderecki
- Allegro
- Andante cantabile
- Allegro ma non troppo

Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano by Claude Debussy. Arranged by Jonathon Kirk.




Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Chicago Chamber Musicians Ensemble | Chamber Monday Series

By TOM BOWSER


This concert was another example of the many excellent free events sponsored by the City of Chicago through the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). Chamber Monday Series concerts are held in the stunning Preston Bradley Hall in the Chicago Cultural Center every Monday at 12:15 pm.

Chamber Monday Series concerts are 45 minutes long. This makes them the perfect mid day break. If you're not able to stay for the entire show you can quietly leave when you need to. My wife and I often meet at these concerts during our lunch hour. We also occasionally schedule a day off during the week to attend Chamber Monday Series concerts. It's convenient to combine a free concert with lunch and any shopping we might need to do downtown.

The Chicago Chamber Musicians Ensemble perform the Brahms String Quartet in B Flat Major Op. 67 at the Chamber Monday Series concert in the Chicago Cultural Center | photo by Tom Bowser

What did you miss if you were not at the show?? Wow! What a fantastic performance! The Chicago Chamber Musicians Ensemble for this event consisted of musicians who are currently or have previously played with the world class Chicago Symphony Orchestra. For example, violinist Robert Chen is currently the "concertmaster" for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The concertmaster would be considered one of the most important and talented people in an orchestra. My wife and I were sitting approximately 50 feet from the musicians. Comparable seats to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform would easily cost well over $100.00 per ticket, per person.

This was the first time I had ever seen the Brahms-String Quartet No. 3 performed. I found it to be an energetic and uplifting composition. The viola was nicely showcased in this composition. Professional classical musicians impress me with their precision, attention to detail and ability to infuse emotion into each passage they play. I always enjoy watching the interaction between professional string players as they perform. Communication between the players takes place at many levels.

Live music is very special. No recording or video captures a live performance perfectly or completely. You have to be there.


The Chicago Chamber Musicians Ensemble for this performance was:

- Jasmine Lin, violin
- Robert Chen, violin
- Anthony Devroye, viola
- Kenneth Olsen, cello


Learn more about upcoming performances of the Chicago Chamber Musicians Ensemble at the (CCME) website. Tickets are reasonably priced especially when you consider the world class musicians you will see and hear. Learn more about other great free events and things to do in Chicago at InspiredChicago.com.

The Chicago Chamber Musicians Ensemble perform the Brahms String Quartet in B Flat Major Op. 67 at the Chamber Monday Series concert in the Chicago Cultural Center in Chicago | photo by Tom Bowser


The Chicago Chamber Musicians Ensemble performed:


String Quartet in B Flat Major Op. 67 composed by Johannes Brahms
- Vivace
- Andante
- Agitato (Allegretto non troppo)
- Poco Allegretto con Variazioni





Saturday, January 2, 2016

Jessica Smith and Xuan He | Musicians Club of Women

By TOM BOWSER


Award Winners In Concert is sponsored by The Musicians Club of Women with performances scheduled during the Chamber Mondays Concert Series. Concerts are 45 minutes long and held the fourth Monday of each month at 12:15 pm. These free concerts are a great lunch hour event if you work or attend school downtown. My wife and I often meet for lunch and then walk back to work when the concert finishes. It's a refreshing break during a busy day. Got kids that are old enough to sit quietly and attentively through a 45 minute concert? Schedule a Monday off from work and school to bring the kids.

The Musicians Club of Women (MCW) helps to support and develop the careers of women musicians. MCW offers women musicians performance opportunities and financial support through scholarships. Show women musicians your support by attending Award Winners In Concert series performances. The Musicians Club of Women also sponsors free concerts on the first Friday of each month, September through June, at 12:10 pm at the beautiful Fourth Presbyterian Church located at 126 E. Chestnut Street (at North Michigan Ave) in Chicago.

Learn more about other great free events happening in Chicago at InspiredChicago.com

Jessica Smith and Xuan He | Musicians Club of Women | Chamber Monday Concert Series - photo by Tom Bowser

Jessica Smith and Xuan He

My main exposure to the clarinet has been while listening to the big band jazz music of Woody Herman and Benny Goodman. Jessica reminded me what a beautiful voice the clarinet has when used in other types of music. I enjoyed the music she selected for the concert especially the beautiful piece by Claude Debussy. I love the music of Leonard Bernstein. Jessica and Xuan's performance introduced me to the works of composers Paul Harvey and Carl Maria von Weber.

Jessica played passionately and demonstrated her technical prowess especially while playing Grand Duo Concertant, Op 48. Jessica and Xuan played well together as an ensemble. I liked Xuan's sensitivity as an accompanist. His playing never got in the way or overpowered Jessica's solo work. Piano can become loud in Preston Bradley Hall with it's many hard, reflective surfaces. Xuan's playing was never to loud for the room as is sometimes the case.


Jessica and Xuan performed:


- Sonata for Clarinet and Piano by Leonard Bernstein
I.  Grazioso
II. Andantino - Vivace e leggiero

- Premiere rhapsodie by Claude Debussy

- Three Etudes on Themes of Gershwin by Paul Harvey (NOT the radio broadcaster)
I.   I Got Rhythm
III. It Ain't Necessarily So

- Grand Duo Concertant, Op 48 by Carl Maria von Weber
I.   Allegro con fuoco
II.  Andante con moto
III. Rondo