The New Century Chamber Orchestra with violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, A Far Cry and two stellar string quartets — the Calder and the Escher — are among the leading chamber ensembles and artists featured in Northwestern University’s 17th annual Winter Chamber Music Festival.
The lineup also includes Bienen School faculty, Chicago Symphony Orchestra members and other musicians.
Presented from Jan. 11 to 31 by Northwestern’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music and directed by faculty member Blair Milton, the 2013 Winter Chamber Music Festival is made possible in part by the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation.
All of the festival’s seven January concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. and take place in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. A free 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 master class led by members of the Escher String Quartet will be held at Regenstein Recital Hall, 60 Arts Circle Drive, as noted.
Here’s a schedule of Winter Chamber Music Festival events:
- Friday, Jan. 11 — The festival opens with a performance by Bienen School faculty and guests, including pianist Andrea Swan, violinists Qing Hou, Lei Hou, Ni Mei and Blair Milton, violists Lawrence Neuman and Yukiko Ogura, cellists Brant Taylor, Stephen Balderston and Kenneth Olsen and clarinetist Steven Cohen. The program includes Ravel’s Piano Trio in A Minor, Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet in B Minor and Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-flat Major. Tickets are $22 for the general public and $10 for students.
- Sunday, Jan. 13 — Bienen School faculty and guests will perform Ravel’s Violin Sonata in G Major, Blanc’s Septet in E Major and Dvorak’s String Quintet No. 2 in G Major. Pianist Alan Chow, violinists Stephanie Jeong and Sylvia Kilcullen, violist Yukiko Ogura, cellist Kenneth Olsen, bassist Robert Kassinger, clarinetist J. Lawrie Bloom, bassoonist Christopher Millard and hornist Gail Williams will perform. Tickets are $22 for the general public and $10 for students.
- Friday, Jan. 18 — The chamber orchestra A Far Cry will perform Golijov’s “Last Round” for Strings, Arvo Part’s “Fratres” for Strings and Percussion, Biber’s “Battalia a 10” in D Major and Walton’s Sonata for Strings. Founded in 2007, A Far Cry is comprised of 17 young professional musicians with a goal of expanding the boundaries of orchestral repertoire and experimenting with the ways music is prepared, performed and experienced. The group is the ensemble-in-residence for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and has performed more than 200 concerts worldwide, including a European debut tour this year. Tickets are $24 for the general public and $10 for students.
- Sunday, Jan. 20 — The Calder Quartet, comprised of violinists Benjamin Jacobson and Andrew Bulbrook, violist Jonathan Moerschel and cellist Eric Byers, will perform with Chicago Symphony Orchestra assistant principal clarinetist John Bruce Yeh. Formed at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, the quartet has released three albums, studied and toured around the world and has made appearances on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and with rock artists The National and The Airborne Toxic Event. The program will include Andrew Norman’s “…toward sunshine and the prime of light…,” Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major, Aaron Jay Kernis’ Clarinet Quintet (“Perpetual Chaconne”) and Bartok’s String Quartet No. 5. Kernis is the 2012 recipient of the Bienen School’s Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition. Tickets are $22 for the general public and $10 for students.
- Friday, Jan. 25 — The Escher String Quartet, comprised of violinists Adam Barnett-Hart and Aaron Boyd, violist Pierre Lapointe and cellist Dane Johansen, will perform Prokofiev’s String Quartet No. 2 in C Major, Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 8 in E Minor. Named after Dutch artist M.C. Escher for his use of individual components working together to form a whole, the quartet was formed in 2005 and has performed at the Kennedy Center, the Louvre and the City of London Festival. Currently, the ensemble serves as resident quartet of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Tickets are $22 for the general public and $10 for students.
- Saturday, Jan. 26 — Escher String Quartet members will lead a master class featuring Bienen School string students at 10 a.m. in Regenstein Recital Hall. Admission is free and the class is open to the public.
- Sunday, Jan. 27 — Bienen School faculty and guests will perform Saint-Saens’ Septet in E-flat Major, Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins in C Major and Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E-flat Major. The program will feature violinists Gerardo Ribeiro and Robert Hanford, violist Lawrence Neuman, cellist Stephen Balderston, bassist Andrew Raciti, pianists Toni-Marie Montgomery and James Giles and trumpeter David Gauger. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $10 for students.
- Thursday, Jan. 31 — The Winter Chamber Music Festival will conclude with a performance by violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the New Century Chamber Orchestra. Salerno-Sonnenberg was the youngest winner of the Walter W. Naumburg International Violin Competition after studying at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School. Her own record label, NSS Music, recently released “Together,” her first collaboration with New Century. She has also been the subject of an Academy Award-nominated film, penned her autobiography and has performed at venues around the world, including the White House. Originating in the San Francisco Bay Area, the New Century Chamber Orchestra began collaborating with Salerno-Sonnenberg in 2008 and has since released two albums. The concert will feature performances of Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No. 10 in B Minor, William Bolcom’s Romanza for Violin and String Orchestra, Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras” No. 5 and Strauss’ “Metamorphosen.” Tickets are $30 for the general public and $10 for students.
Subscription prices for this year’s seven-concert series, which includes prime reserved seating and a savings of up to 10 percent off single-ticket prices, are $148 for the general public and $63 for students. 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 or to order tickets, visit www.pickstaiger.org.
Top: The New Century Chamber Orchestra.