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Bienen School’s Winter Chamber Music Festival Celebrates 20 Years

Seven-concert series includes treasured classics as well as compelling new works

  • Dover Quartet to perform works by Dvořák, Berg and Beethoven
  • Seldom heard Busoni Violin Sonata with Shmuel Ashkenasi part of chamber series
  • Festival includes special Feb. 7 performance by Zukerman Trio
  • Annual festival is made possible in part by the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Banff 2013 prizewinning Dover Quartet -- the Bienen School of Music’s quartet-in-residence -- and Banff 2004 prizewinners -- the Jupiter String Quartet -- are both scheduled to perform during the 20th season of Northwestern University’s annual Winter Chamber Music Festival.

Presented by Northwestern’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music, the 2016 Winter Chamber Music Festival begins Jan. 8.

The seven-concert series will conclude with a special Feb. 7 performance by the Zukerman Trio, led by renowned Israeli violinist Pinchas Zukerman, whose artistry is recognized worldwide. It will be the fourth time that Zukerman has participated in the Bienen School’s popular Winter Chamber Music Festival. 

Other 2016 festival guest ensembles will include the Lincoln String Quartet, the Grammy-nominated chamber orchestra A Far Cry, and groups comprised of distinguished members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Bienen School of Music faculty.

Made possible in part by the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, the 2016 festival will feature treasured classics as well as compelling new instrumental works performed by small ensembles.

Blair Milton, a violinist and Bienen School faculty member since 1984, is artistic director of the Winter Chamber Music Festival. He also is a founding member of the Evanston Chamber Ensemble and has been a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1975. 

“This season’s festival will include three wonderful string quartets: the Dover Quartet, our quartet-in-residence; the Jupiter Quartet, returning to the festival stage for the third time; and the Lincoln Quartet,” Milton said. 

The Dover Quartet’s program will include works by Dvořák, Berg and Beethoven; the Jupiter String Quartet will perform pieces by Haydn, Bartók and Beethoven; and the Lincoln String Quartet will open the festival Jan. 8 with Haydn, Shostakovich and Brahms. 

“The Jupiter Quartet will be playing Bartók’s String Quartet No. 4, one of the most difficult in the repertoire,” Milton added. “We also are delighted to have A Far Cry -- an 18-member, self-directed ensemble -- recently nominated for a Grammy for their 2014 CD release -- return to the Pick-Staiger stage with a very exciting program, including Symphony No. 3 by Philip Glass, and ‘Leyendas: An American Walkabout,’ by Gabriela Lena Frank.”

All of the following Winter Chamber Music Festival events will take place on the University’s Evanston campus at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, as noted.

Winter Chamber Music Festival 

  • The Lincoln String Quartet will open the 2016 Winter Chamber Music Festival at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8. All four Lincoln String Quartet musicians are current members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The group will perform Haydn’s String Quartet No. 61 in D Minor, Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 3 in F Major and Brahms’ String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor. Comprised of violinists Lei Hou and Qing Hou, violist Lawrence Neuman and cellist Kenneth Olsen, the quartet performs regularly at various Chicago venues, including Symphony Center, the Art Institute and Northwestern University.
  • The Bienen School’s new quartet-in-residence, the Dover Quartet, will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10. Since winning the Banff International String Quartet Competition in 2013, the Dover Quartet -- made up of violinists Joel Link and Bryan Lee, violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt and cellist Camden Shaw -- has performed throughout Canada, South America, Europe and the United States. The quartet’s program includes Dvořák’s String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Berg’s String Quartet and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 7 in F Major.
  • The Ashkenasi-Liu-Taylor Trio will perform works by Schubert and Busoni at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17. The group includes Bienen School faculty violinist Shmuel Ashkenasi, Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist Brant Taylor, and Chicago Chamber Musicians artistic director and pianist Meng-Chieh Liu. The trio’s program includes Schubert’s “Rondo Brillant” in B Minor and Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat Major as well as Busoni’s Violin Sonata No. 2 in E Minor.
  • The Jupiter String Quartet, winners of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, will focus on the works of Haydn, Bartók and Beethoven at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22. The Jupiter String Quartet -- comprised of violinists Nelson Lee and Megan Freivogel, violist Liz Freivogel  and cellist Daniel McDonough -- has performed across the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico and South America, playing in such venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall, Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes and Washington’s Library of Congress. Their program will feature Haydn’s String Quartet No. 63 in B-flat Major, Bartók’s String Quartet No. 4 and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 8 in E Minor.
  • Grammy-nominated chamber orchestra A Far Cry will showcase works by Glass, Frank, Villa-Lobos and Ginastera at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24. A Far Cry’s cooperative approach to music has led to collaborations with artists Yo-Yo Ma, Jake Shimabukuro, Urbanity Dance, Roomful of Teeth and others. The group has received success internationally with hundreds of performances around the world.
  • The Zukerman Trio will conclude the 2016 festival at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7 with works by Dvořák and Beethoven. The Zukerman Trio -- comprised of Grammy-winning violinist Pinchas Zukerman, cellist Amanda Forsyth and pianist Angela Cheng -- has toured Italy, Spain, Japan, China, Korea, Australia, the United States and Canada since its founding in the summer of 2014. They will perform Dvořák’s Piano Trio No. 4 in E Minor and Beethoven’s Piano Trio in B-flat Major. 

Single ticket prices

Single tickets for all January Winter Chamber Music Festival events are $30 for the general public and $10 for students with valid IDs. Single tickets for the Zukerman Trio’s Feb. 7 special performance are $35 for the general public and $10 for students.

Winter Chamber Music Festival Subscriptions

Subscribers save up to 30 percent off single tickets and enjoy many other benefits; call 847-467-4000 for more details.

For more information, call the Bienen School of Music Concert Management Office at 847- 491-5441 or visit To order tickets, call the Bienen School Ticket Office at 847-467-4000 or visit

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