Saturday, December 26, 2015

Naria Kim and Evan Solomon | Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts


Dame Myra Hess Concerts are free to attend and occur every Wednesday at 12:15 within the fabulous Preston Bradley hall of the Chicago Cultural Center. Artists that appear at Dame Myra Hess concerts are high quality and worthy of your time and attention. Performances are 45 minutes long. Dame Myra Hess concerts are a perfect lunch break during the week if you work downtown. My wife and I occasionally meet during lunch hour then head back to our respective days. NOTE: Seats are limited so arrive at least 20 minutes prior to the 12:15pm start time if possible.

The Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert series features a variety of "classical" music artists and instruments. Performances range from solo piano, to violin or cello and piano, string quartets, flute, clarinet to brass and saxophone ensembles and more. One of my recent favorites was the beautiful Chicago Harp Quartet.

Those of you who have read my "About Me" page will notice I have worked with a range of music types and musicians from jazz and country to setting up for The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and U2 tours. However, I was a classical music fan long before I listened to that first Aerosmith Rocks album a friend lent me in high school. One of my favorite childhood memories was driving with my father while listening to his favorite classical music (Shostakovic). Now that he's passed on this memory holds even more significance.

Parents bring your children if they are old enough to sit quietly and attentively through a 45 minute performance. As they mature your children will remember and cherish the classical music experiences you shared with them. College students who live and attend school downtown should consider Dame Myra Hess concerts as a welcome break during their day. Music students have a great opportunity to see and learn from working musicians.

Naria Kim and Evan Solomon - Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts - Photo by Tom Bowser

New to live classical music events?

  1. Turn off or silence your phone or other noise making device before the show begins.
  2. If you take pictures do not use a flash.
  3. It's customary to hold your applause until an entire piece of music (song) has completed. If you're not sure when to clap simply wait until a majority of the audience has begun to applaud.

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts is produced by the International Music Foundation of Chicago. All Dame Myra Hess concerts are recorded and broadcast live on WFMT 98.7 FM. Concerts are also streamed live from the WFMT Web site. Learn about other great free things to do in Chicago at

Naria Kim and Evan Solomon

I enjoyed the performance. I found Naria's playing to be very musical and fluid. She played with passion and articulated the more complicated double stop sections with ease. Naria and Evan worked well together. Piano can become to loud in Preston Bradly Hall with the many highly reflective surfaces of the room. Evan did a nice job maintaining an appropriate volume level that did not overpower Naria's playing.

Naria and Evan performed:

- Nocturne Op. 51, No. 3 (3') composed by Jean Sibelius

- Sonata for Violin and Piano in G minor (14') composed by Claude Debussy
I.   Allegro vivo
II.  Intermede: Fantasque et leger
II. Finale: Tre anime

- Violin Sonata, FP. 119 (20') composed by Francis Poulenc
I.   Allegro con fuoco
II.  Intermezzo. Tres lent et calme
III. Presto tragico

NOTE: The Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert series is free to attend. However it is funded in part through donations. Please consider making a donation to insure the continuance of this long running and important concert series. Donations are collected outside the main entry to the Preston Bradley Hall where the Dame Myra Hess Memorial concerts are held. Whether you donate one dollar or one thousand dollars I'm confident your donation will be put to good use.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The band "Ask Your Folks" | Chamber Monday Concert Series


The free Chamber Music Concert Series at the Chicago Cultural Center has been evolving to include a wider variety of music. I like the change as it allows me to experience a diversity of music styles and genres that I might not otherwise be exposed to. The band scheduled to play on December 14, 2015 was "Ask Your Folks".

Ask Your Folks showed they had more than just a clever name. Their musical style seemed influenced by both jazz and folk music. Their clean, well rehearsed performances demonstrated their classical music roots and DePaul University music school training.

The band Ask Your Folks - Featuring: Owen Burton - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Libby Weitnauer - Violin, Vocals, Eli Broxham - Bass Fiddle | photograph by Tom Bowser

One of the standouts for the show was the violin playing of Libby Burton. Her playing style and clean tone gave a modern feel to a genre of music rooted in the more organic feel I associate with fiddle players. I'm sure that with continued work Libby's vocal abilities will rise to the level of her violin playing. Owen and Eli played well together and formed a solid foundation for the original compositions Ask Your Folks performed.

The sound production for the event was well done. The overall volume was good for the room. The mix between instruments and musicians was well balanced. The overall sound had excellent clarity. The band did a good job working with the single mic technique used to reproduce the musicians vocals and instruments.

My wife and I both enjoyed our lunch hour all the more while listening to the music of Ask Your Folks. I suggest you make an opportunity to see their next performance. The show was another great free event sponsored by the folks at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE)

The Chamber Monday Concert Series is one of many great FREE events that occur each day here in Chicago. Learn about other FREE events in Chicago at the Inspired Chicago Web site.

The band Ask Your Folks is ready to fill the role as an opening band for a larger tour. Looking to hire "Ask Your Folks" for a corporate event, party, wedding or festival? For bookings contact the band at askyourfolks at Learn more at the Ask Your Folks Web site.

The band:
Owen Burton - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Libby Weitnauer - Violin, Vocals
Eli Broxham - Bass Fiddle (Double Bass)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Chicago Chamber Music Ensemble | Chamber Mondays Concert Series


One of the many things I like about Chicago is the huge number of completely FREE, high quality events sponsored by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). DCASE events are always high quality and well organized. One of my favorite free weekly events is the Chamber Monday Series held at 12:15pm every Monday in beautiful Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center. Preston Bradley Hall has a breath taking Tiffany stained-glass dome above it. The dome is the largest of it's kind in the world.

Chamber Monday concerts feature a wide range of music that routinely changes. One week you might hear opera, another week jazz or maybe classical or folk. The music is always interesting and the musicians are very high caliber. The audiences are diverse and appreciative. The setting is casual so come as you are. My wife and I often meet during work lunch hours. If you need you can quietly leave early. It is a nice break from any busy day.

Chamber Mondays Concert Series held in Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center - Photo by Tom Bowser

The fabulous Chicago Chamber Music Ensemble performed pieces by Antonio Vivaldi, Francesco Geminiani, Michel Blavet and Georg Phillipp Telemann. The show was flawless and well received by the audience. The Chicago Chamber Musicians Ensemble is composed of Michael Henoch, oboe, John Thorne, flute, Paula Kosower, cello, Jason Moy, harpsichord playing Baroque Chamber Music.

If you are not familiar with Baroque Chamber Music I suggest you give it a listen. It's quite beautiful and relaxing! Learn more about great FREE things to do in Chicago at

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Fifth House Ensemble | Rush Hour Concerts | Free World Class Music


Chicago is one of the epicenters of music innovation and creation in the world. Whatever type of music you like you will find it here in Chicago. I love live music for it's spontaneity. I'm able to connect with the musicians and music in a way that is not possible by listening to recorded music.

Rush Hour Concerts presents FREE world class concerts every Tuesday night from June through August at the beautiful St. James Cathedral at 65 East Huron Street in downtown Chicago. Performances feature an interesting variety of classical music performed by musicians from world class organizations to include the The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

The audience is diverse and everyone is welcome. The format of the concerts is casual so come as you are whether directly from work or home. Refreshments are served prior to the concert. Attend the FREE pre-concert discussion at 5:15pm to learn more about the performance. The concerts are broadcast live by 98.7 WFMT which adds an interesting element to the event. Concerts begin at 5:45pm.

Fifth House Ensemble performed at the Rush Hour concert pictured below. Their performance was moving and compelling. My wife and I both enjoyed the event. The music and inspiring setting was as a refreshing break from our busy day. "Fifth House Ensemble" members for this event included:

- Jani Parsons, Piano
- Drew Williams, Violin
- Jennifer Woodrum, Clarinet

Fifth House Ensemble Performing Inside St. James Cathedral featuring Jani Parsons, Piano; Drew Williams, Violin; Jennifer Woodrum, Clarinet | photograph by Tom Bowser

To learn more about Rush Hour concerts and other high quality FREE things to do in Chicago visit