Boe photo
How do Orion musicians
create their concert programs?
Longtime fans know that, in addition to the excellent abilities of the musicians, one of the most appealing things about attending an Orion concert is the unique nature of each program. Most of the programs combine rarely heard works with more popular pieces. But how do the Ensemble members assemble each program
each season?
Clarinetist Kathryne Pirtle shared, “We first all let each other know the pieces we would like to perform for the season. We then put programs together that have a good synergy and come up with ideas for guest artists to join us. As a clarinetist, I like to play pieces we haven’t played before. I also like to bring back pieces that everybody loves. An ideal program has a mixture of styles, instrumentation and recognized and new works we have not performed before. We like to offer a wide range of music on every program. We sometimes get ideas from colleagues. Violist Sally Didrikson is always researching music that is not commonly performed. She has given us a lot of ideas for repertoire, including both works on our CD, Twilight of the Romantics .”

Said pianist Diana Schmück, “When we plan Orion programs, we all contribute lots of ideas of pieces we’d like to include, then we try to design interesting and balanced programs, using as many of those pieces as possible. Occasionally, one of us will suggest an entire program built around a particular theme.”

Schmück also credited violist Sally Didrickson: “She was very helpful in the pre-YouTube years, suggesting and helping us access lesser-known works. Now, of course, it is easier; we can listen to things on YouTube and look up things on various online sites. Sometimes someone just happens to hear something on the radio that they might like to play or is interested in a particular composer and discovers works that will work well for Orion.”

As for this season’s programs, Pirtle said, “ I am especially looking forward to our November concerts because I am playing a great piece for bass clarinet and marimba by Richard Rodriguez with guest artist Josh Graham. We are also presenting a new classical quartet for clarinet and strings by the composer Bernhard Crusell, which is an incredibly beautiful piece.”
Schmück is especially excited about the season’s third and fourth concert programs. “I’m particularly looking forward to our last concert because it includes a major chamber work that I have never played. I’ve played most of the standard chamber works several times, but not the Schumann Quintet, and finally I get to play that wonderful work. I also love the Dvorak that we are playing on the third concert, and I’m very much looking forward to playing some of Sebastian Huydts’ music on that concert, arranged especially for Orion. I always find it a joy to play works by living composers!”  
See Orion's November concerts, starting Sunday!
Concert 2

Nov. 10 - 7 pm (New England Congregational Church, Aurora)
Nov. 13 - 7:30 pm (PianoForte Studios, Chicago)
Nov. 17 - 7:30 pm (Nichols Concert Hall, Evanston)

$30 adults | $25 seniors | $15 students

“Innovative programming. Unique repertoire.
Thoughtful performances that get to the music’s soul.”
~ Jim Ginsburg, President, Cedille Records

27th Season—2019–20
The Orion Ensemble is supported in part by grants from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the John R. Halligan Charitable Fund, the Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation Fund, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and by generous donations from our dedicated patrons.