CONTACT: Jill Chukerman
Four Concert Programs in Aurora, Downtown Chicago and Evanston
The Orion Ensemble returns to in-person performances, while continuing livestreaming to reach even more chamber music fans, during its 29th season, featuring four concert programs at four venues. Joining the widely praised musicianship of Orion’s core members—clarinetist Kathryne Pirtle, violinist Florentina Ramniceanu, pianist Diana Schmück and cellist Judy Stone—are guest violinist/violist Stephen Boe and guest violist Roger Chase.
Orion performs each concert program at venues spanning the Chicago area, including the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago, the Lake Street Church (Concerts 1 and 2) and the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall (Concerts 3 and 4) in Evanston and New England Congregational Church in Aurora. All venues will welcome in-person audiences, and Orion will also livestream the performances at the Evanston and Chicago venues.
Concert 1, with guest violist Stephen Boe, includes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Trio in C Major for piano, violin and cello, K. 548; Michele Mangani’s Sonata for clarinet and piano (2017); and Gabriel Fauré’s Quartet in C minor for violin, viola, cello and piano, Op. 15 (1883). Performances take place October 3 (Aurora), October 6 (Chicago) and October 10 (Evanston).
Violist Boe also joins Orion for Concert 2, which features Ludwig van Beethoven’s Trio in G Major for violin, viola and cello, Op. 9, No. 2; Florence Price’s Fantasy in G minor for violin and piano (1933); Paul Hindemith’s Quartet for clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1938); and Franz Schubert’s Adagio and Rondo Concertant in F Major for piano, violin, viola and cello, D. 487. Performances are November 7 (Aurora—with a wine and cheese benefit following the concert), November 10 (Chicago) and November 14 (Evanston).

Music from the late 19th and 20th centuries fills the program for Concert 3: Paul Schoenfield’s Trio for clarinet, violin and piano (1990); selections from William Grant Still’s Three Visions for piano solo (1935) and Folk Song Suite No. 2 (1962); and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Trio in A minor for violin, cello and piano, Op. 50. Performances are March 6 (Aurora), March 9 (Chicago) and March 13 (Evanston).
Joining Orion for Concert 4 are guest violinist Boe and, from London, guest violist Roger Chase performing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Quintet in A Major for clarinet and strings, K. 581 and Alexander Borodin’s String Quartet in D Major. Performances are May 8 (Aurora), May 11 (Chicago) and May 15 (Evanston).
Also during the season, Orion appears on the broadcast series “Live from WFMT” October 11 and May 16 at 8 p.m.
For the ninth year, Orion continues its educational initiatives under the banner Janet’s Stage, a one-of-a-kind collaboration with orchestra departments and chamber music ensembles at area schools. This year Orion partners with Glenbard East High School in Lombard and other schools in that district. The Orion musicians provide multifaceted yearlong student support, including practical, individualized learning through master classes and chamber music coaching, performances for students and parents at each school, invitations to attend Orion concerts and the opportunity for student ensembles to perform on the Orion concert stage. Orion also works with ensembles at the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras and the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Founded in 1992, The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming for its critically acclaimed millennium celebration “An Inside Look at Contemporary Music,” features a roster of four acclaimed musicians—Kathryne Pirtle (clarinet), Florentina Ramniceanu (violin), Diana Schmück (piano) and Judy Stone (cello)—who have performed throughout North America, Europe and Asia, as an ensemble and individually in solo, orchestral and other chamber music roles. The Chicago Tribune called Orion “one of Chicago’s most vibrant, versatile and distinctive ensembles,” and the Chicago Sun-Times said Orion is “what chamber music should be all about: Individual virtuosity melded into a group personality.” The Orion Ensemble is supported in part by grants from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Illinois Arts Council, John R. Halligan Charitable Fund, Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation Fund and generous donations from its patrons. For a brief history, click here.
The Orion Ensemble performs its 2021–22 concert programs at four Chicago-area venues: the PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago on Wednesdays, October 6, November 10, March 9 and May 11 at 7:30 p.m.; the Lake Street Church, 607 Lake Street in Evanston on Sundays, October 10 and November 14 at 7 p.m.; the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston on Sundays, March 13 and May 15 at 7:30 p.m.; and New England Congregational Church, 406 W. Galena Boulevard in Aurora on Sundays, October 3, March 6 and May 8 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, November 7 at 3 p.m., followed by a wine and cheese benefit. Single tickets are $30, $25 for seniors (65+) and $15 for students; children 12 and younger attend free. A four-ticket flexible subscription provides a 10 percent savings on full-priced tickets. For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit
L–R: Florentina Ramniceanu, Diana Schmück, Judy Stone and Kathryne Pirtle. Photo by Cornelia Babbitt.
Photos of Roger Chase (L) and Stephen Boe courtesy of the artists.
The Orion Ensemble | Website