Q&A with Diana Schmück
Diana Schmück is pianist for The Orion Ensemble , which she founded with clarinetist Kathryne Pirtle and violinist Florentina Ramniceanu. Schmück has appeared in concerts throughout the United States and Canada, in Europe and in the Philippines, where she was a soloist with the Metro-Manila Symphony. She has performed as a soloist at Symphony Center, Ravinia, WFMT and the Chicago Cultural Center. She also founded the Debriana Duo piano team with Debra Sutter, which received special recognition at the first Murray Dranoff Duo-Piano Competition and was invited to perform at the American Liszt Society in Washington, D.C.; the Daedalus Duo with clarinetist Bonnie Campbell; and Vermillion with Bonnie Campbell and Orion cellist Judy Stone.

(Read Diana's full bio here .)
We are halfway through the 2018–19 season. What have been highlights so far, and what are you looking forward to?
This past fall I was overjoyed to play the lush Romantic music programmed on our first two concerts of the season—Strauss, Cassadó and Frühling. It was wonderful to bring back the Strauss, fabulous to work with cellist Ian Maksin on the Cassadó and delightful to discover the beauty of the little-known Frühling Clarinet Trio.

What are your thoughts about the remaining concert programs this season? Are you particularly excited about one or more of the works?
I'm excited that we have more great Romantic music coming this spring. The Brahms Quintet that we will play in May is one of my all-time favorites, and the Chaminade Trio is dramatic and beautiful as well—indeed, a "French Musical Treasure," as the concert is entitled. I’m also excited to play three works by women in March; in addition to the Chaminade, we will feature works by two women who are living today: Stacy Garrop is an innovative and expressive Chicago-based composer whose works we have enjoyed playing before, and American-born Nancy Van de Vate is a prolific composer now living in Austria. The March program also includes a “standard” that we love—a young virtuosic work by Beethoven—his Op. 16 Piano Trio.

As one of Orion’s founders, how does it feel to reach your 26th season?
I can’t believe we are in our 26th season! How is that possible, since we all are still “kids”? Just the other day, it seems, we were working out how to become a not-for-profit entity, we were playing at the Shrine of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, doing school residencies at Lake Geneva and touring South Dakota in February with Kathy’s baby in tow! It’s been wonderful to have the opportunity to share so much fabulous music with each other and with all of you. And while I enjoy playing with other musicians as well, the years of playing concerts together has created a comfort and an excitement being on the stage with Orion; there is a wonderful freedom that comes with knowing each other’s musical personalities so well, and trusting each other’s musical instincts!

What else is coming up for you this winter and spring that Orion fans should know about?
I am organizing—and playing for—a March 30 Broadway night with singers at Lake Street Church, where I am the organist and music director. I’ve been asked to play trumpet at my niece’s May wedding. On piano, however, I am preparing concerts with soprano Victoria Holland, I am working on a WFMT fall concert of works by female composers who studied with Nadia Boulanger, and I will likely be setting up more benefit concerts in Frank Lloyd Wright Homes as benefits for the Taliesin School of Architecture.  
See Orion's March Concerts!
French Musical Treasure

March 10 - 7 pm (Chapelstreet Church, Geneva)
March 20 - 7:30 pm (PianoForte Studios, Chicago)

$26 adults | $23 seniors | $10 students

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

26 Years – The Journey Continues – 2018-19
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.