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Concert series brings world-renowned artists to the North Shore

Bienen School’s four 2018-2019 subscription series are on sale now

Berta Rojas performs Jan. 6, 2019 in the Segovia Classical Guitar series. Photo by Rodrigo Da Silva
Berta Rojas performs Jan. 6, 2019 in the Segovia Classical Guitar series. Photo by Rodrigo Da Silva
James Ehnes performs Jan. 13, 2019 in the Winter Chamber Music Festival. Photo by B. Ealovega
James Ehnes performs Jan. 13, 2019 in the Winter Chamber Music Festival. Photo by B. Ealovega
Jeffrey Siegel's Keyboard Conversations celebrate 50th anniversary
Jeffrey Siegel's Keyboard Conversations celebrate 50th anniversary

• Skyline Piano Artist Series welcomes Jean Gimbel Lane Prize winner Marc-André Hamelin

• Latin Grammy nominee Berta Rojas returns to Segovia Classical Guitar Series   

• Grammy-winning violinist James Ehnes debuts on Winter Chamber Music Festival

• Keyboard Conversations celebrates 50th anniversary season

EVANSTON - The Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music’s 2018-2019 subscription season begins this fall, with four concert series offering award-winning virtuosity and artistry from around the globe.

Following another season of sold-out performances, the Skyline Piano Artist Series (Nov. 16, 2018 to May 30, 2019) enters its fourth year of showcasing piano mastery in Galvin Recital Hall.

Internationally acclaimed guitarists and the rare opportunity to hear a duo lute recital comprise the upcoming Segovia Classical Guitar Series (Oct. 13, 2018 to May 11, 2019).

A perennial favorite of classical music lovers in Chicago, the Winter Chamber Music Festival (Jan. 11 to 27, 2019) presents critically acclaimed artists, including distinguished Bienen School faculty and special guests.

Pianist Jeffrey Siegel returns for the 50th anniversary season of Keyboard Conversations (Oct. 5, 2018 to May 10, 2019), performing and sharing the stories behind musical masterpieces and little-known gems.

Subscriptions are now on sale for the above four series and may be purchased online at, by phone at 847-467-4000 or in person during box office hours.

Box office hours are Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays, noon to 3 p.m. Summer hours, effective June 18, are Mondays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Single tickets for the Skyline Piano Artist Series, Segovia Classical Guitar Series and Keyboard Conversations will go on sale Aug. 1. Single tickets for the Winter Chamber Music Festival will go on sale Nov. 12.

The subscription series and programs are as follows:

Keyboard Conversations® with Jeffrey Siegel

Oct. 5, 2018 to May 10, 2019
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

 This four-program series, celebrating 50 years on Chicago’s North Shore, features masterful performances and lively commentary by Siegel.

  • “The Joyous Music of Beethoven”
    7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 

Siegel explores the stories behind Beethoven’s festive Polonaise, Op. 89; the “Theresa” Sonata; and the “Farewell” Sonata, Op. 81a. 

  • “Commemorating Rachmaninoff and Debussy”
    7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 

Rachmaninoff’s famous Prelude in C-sharp Minor, Debussy’s beloved “Clair de lune” and select Etudes and Preludes of both composers. 

  • “Chopin in Paris”
    7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 

Siegel discusses and performs works Chopin composed after settling in Paris: Nocturnes, Mazurkas, Polonaises and his well-known Barcarolle. 

  • “The Romantic Connection”
    7:30 p.m. Friday, May 10, 2019 

Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann and Frédéric Chopin were born within months of one another and are recognized as leading composers of the Romantic period. Siegel demonstrates the ways in which the three composers inspired one another. 

Segovia Classical Guitar Series

Oct. 13, 2018 to May 11, 2019
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston 

Named for legendary guitar virtuoso Andrés Segovia Torres, the series is now in its 26th season. Guitarists Tengyue Zhang and Judicaël Perroy and lutenist Ronn McFarlane make their series debuts. 

2017 first prize winner of the Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) International Competition, Zhang also has received top prizes in competitions in Austria, China, Russia and the U.S. As winner of the 2018 GFA prize, he recently began a concert tour of more than 50 North American cities, including his recital debut in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, with additional dates in Europe, South America and China. 

Three-time Latin Grammy nominee Rojas has performed at celebrated venues worldwide, including Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, the Kennedy Center, London’s South Bank Centre and Dublin’s National Concert Hall. An ambassador for the music of her home country of Paraguay, she was named a Fellow of the Americas by the Kennedy Center and awarded the National Order of Merit of the Comuneros, Paraguay’s highest honor. 

  • Waller and Maxwell Duo, Richard Graef and Charles Pikler
    7:30 p.m. Friday, March 1, 2019 

As the Waller and Maxwell Guitar Duo, Bienen School faculty guitarist Anne Waller and DePaul University faculty guitarist Mark Maxwell have appeared at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.; Guitar Foundation of America festivals; Buffalo, New York’s Rantucci Festival; and Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts in Chicago. Graef, Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) assistant principal flutist and Bienen adjunct associate professor and Pikler, CSO principal viola through 2017, join the duo for an evening of exquisite chamber music. 

Lutenist O’Dette, winner of a Grammy Award and the Diapason d’Or, has performed at major international festivals throughout the U.S., Europe and Australia and has appeared with respected conductors and ensembles including Jordi Savall, Tafelmusik and Tragicomedia. Grammy-nominated lutenist McFarlane is a founding member of Ayreheart and the Baltimore Consort and has made appearances throughout the U.S. and Europe with Apollo’s Fire, The Bach Sinfonia and Houston Grand Opera, among others. 

Since capturing first prize at the 15th Guitar Foundation of America International Competition, Perroy has garnered worldwide acclaim as an extraordinary virtuoso guitarist. He is the winner of five Diapason d’Or awards and top prizes at the Ile-de-France, René Bartoli and Bourg-Madame competitions.


Skyline Piano Artist Series

Nov. 16, 2018 to May 30, 2019
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston 

The fourth annual Skyline Piano Artist Series showcases an array of virtuosity against the backdrop of the Chicago skyline. Making their Northwestern debuts this season are pianists Olga Kern, Kirill Gerstein, Alexander Toradze and Marc-André Hamelin. 

Barnatan is the recipient of a 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Lincoln Center’s 2015 Martin E. Segal Award and is the newly-appointed music director of the La Jolla Music Society Summerfest, beginning in 2019. Recent engagements include his BBC Proms debut, the world premiere of a concerto by Alan Fletcher with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, debuts with the London and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestras and appearances at London’s Wigmore Hall, New York’s 92nd Street Y and Carnegie Hall. 

Russian-American pianist Kern began her career with a historic Gold Medal win at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, becoming the first woman to do so in more than 30 years. Her 2004 recording of Rachmaninoff’s Corelli Variations and other transcriptions was nominated for a Grammy Award, and she was featured in the award-winning documentary about the 2001 Cliburn Competition, “Playing on the Edge.” Over the course of her career, Kern has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Zurich’s Tonhalle, Milan’s La Scala and Chicago’s Symphony Center. In the 2017-18 season, she served as artist in residence to the San Antonio Symphony and appeared with the Madison Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Copenhagen Philharmonic and Austin Symphony. 

First prize winner at the 10th Arthur Rubinstein Competition, Gerstein is also the recipient of a Gilmore Young Artist Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant and a Gilmore Artist Award. He has commissioned new works from composers including Timo Andres, Chick Corea, Oliver Knussen and Brad Mehldau. Highlights of his 2017-18 season included debuts with the Pittsburgh and National symphonies and appearances in Europe with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Bavaria Radio Orchestra and the BBC Proms. 

Toradze has appeared with leading orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Mariinsky Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France and the London Symphony. His recordings of the piano concertos of Shostakovich and Prokofiev have earned him critical acclaim. 

Hamelin is the winner of the Bienen School’s 2018 Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance. He has received multiple Grammy nominations, and his three-disc recording of the music of Ferruccio Busoni was honored with the 2014 ECHO Klassik Instrumentalist of the Year award. His recent appearances have included Carnegie Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Center and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and he performed with the Seattle Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Orchestre de Paris and Moscow Philharmonic, among others. He was also a member of the jury for the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, where preliminary round competitors were required to perform his composition “L’homme armé.” 

Bienen School of Music piano program coordinator Giles has given acclaimed recitals at New York’s Alice Tully Hall, Paris’s Salle Cortot, London’s Purcell Room and Wigmore Hall and Warsaw’s Chopin Academy. Recent tours have taken him to the Nancy Music Festival in France, the Accademia Cristofori in Florence, the Gijon Piano Festival in Spain and the Beijing International Music Festival. He serves as director of the Amalfi Coast Music Festival during the summers and was director of the 2017 American Liszt Society Festival.


Winter Chamber Music Festival

Jan. 11 to 27, 2019
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

The critically acclaimed annual festival celebrates treasured classics and compelling new works. This season, violinist James Ehnes, the Catalyst Quartet and the Gryphon Trio make their Festival debuts. 

The Dover Quartet is the winner of a Cleveland Quartet Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant and the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition. Their 2017-18 season comprised more than 100 concerts throughout North America and Europe, including appearances at the Kennedy Center, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and Library of Congress. In this program, “The Ripple of Time,” the quartet performs Tchaikovsky’s Quartet No. 3 in E-flat Minor, Op. 30; Mason Bates’s “From Amber Frozen”; and Schubert’s Quartet in G Major, D. 887.

Grammy and Juno award-winning violinist Ehnes appears regularly at Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Center and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. Pianist Armstrong has dazzled audiences throughout the world, including performances at Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Moscow Conservatory’s Grand Hall and Warsaw’s National Philharmonic. The duo presents the first of three performances, to be continued during the 2020 Winter Chamber Music Festival, devoted to Beethoven’s complete violin sonatas. 

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Gryphon Trio has received Juno Awards for their 2004 release “Canadian Premieres” and their 2011 recording of the music of Beethoven. Their most recent release, “The End of Flowers,” features music of Rebecca Clarke and Maurice Ravel. The trio has commissioned and premiered more than 70 new works from established and emerging composers, and has collaborated on special projects with clarinetist James Campbell, actor Colin Fox and choreographer David Earle, among others. Their program features Haydn’s Trio No. 45 in E-flat Major, Hob. XV:29; Beethoven’s Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 70, No. 2; and Brahms’s Trio No. 2 in C Major, Op. 87. 

Comprised of top laureates and alumni of the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Competition, the Catalyst Quartet has toured throughout the U.S. and abroad, including sold-out performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Chicago’s Harris Theater, Miami’s New World Center and Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium. Their festival appearances have included Mainly Mozart in San Diego, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival and the opening performance of Napa’s 2014 Festival del Sole with Joshua Bell. Their program highlights South American composers, featuring Villa-Lobos’s String Quartet No. 1 and “Bachianas Brasileiras” No. 5, Piazzolla’s “Suite del Angel” and Ginastera’s String Quartet No. 2. 

Winner of the Banff International String Quartet Competition, the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the Cleveland Quartet Award and an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Jupiter Quartet has appeared at celebrated venues throughout the world, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes, Austria’s Esterházy Palace and Seoul’s National Arts Center. They perform a program featuring Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 13; Dutilleux’s “Ainsi la nuit”; and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131.

  • Bienen faculty and guests
    7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019 

Bienen faculty violinist Gerardo Ribeiro, violist Helen Callus, pianist James Giles and flutist John Thorne are joined by cellist Stephen Balderston and pianist Kay Kim to close the 2019 Festival with Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 5, No. 2; Samuel Zyman’s Sonata for Flute; and Taneyev’s Piano Quartet in E Major, Op. 20.

 Season subscriptions and single tickets available 

Bienen School of Music subscriptions are offered at multiple levels for patrons purchasing tickets to three or more events in a concert series. Subscribers save up to 30 percent off single-ticket prices and are guaranteed the same seats each season. The benefits also include free ticket exchanges and access to post-performance receptions with series artists (one reception will be scheduled per series). Subscribers to all of the concerts in a series receive 50 percent off the single-ticket price for any other Bienen School of Music concert subscription series. More information on subscriber benefits is available on the Concerts@Bienen website

Single tickets are $30 for the general public and $10 for full-time students with valid ID. Single tickets for Keyboard Conversations, the Segovia Classical Guitar Series and the Skyline Piano Artist Series will go on sale Wednesday, Aug. 1. Single tickets for the Winter Chamber Music Festival will go on sale Monday, Nov. 12. 

The Bienen School of Music is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts. Search for events across all artistic disciplines at Northwestern Arts Circle.

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