September 17, 2007

Chamber music society's concerts benefit students

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Southern Illinois Chamber Music Society, a small group of Southern Illinois University Carbondale School of Music faculty and a large group of community members, makes music so their students can make music, too.

"Our main objective and mission is to provide scholarships," Kathleen Ginther, who teaches music theory and composition at SIUC and works with the chamber music group, said. "It's hard to compete with other institutions for the best students when those other school often have larger scholarship funds."

However, rather than bemoan the status of scholarship funds for students of winds and strings, Ginther and several other faculty members joined with the greater Carbondale area community. For the price of a concert – or better still a sponsorship via the Allegro Group – music lovers can enjoy good music and the comforting knowledge that they are helping music students further their musical educations. Last year, the group awarded $17,000 in scholarship money, helping out at least nine students with scholarships.

This year, the society added two more concerts plus a one-time special event to the 2007-2008 season line-up. The Sesser Opera House hosts the two extra concerts. The special event is an open house tribute to Jack Hayward, who founded the society in the early 1990s. Hayward, who was chair of the former religious studies program at SIUC, joined forces with Michael Barta, a professor of violin and chamber music at SIUC, to create chamber groups composed of SIUC faculty and students. The open house is set for Oct. 14 at the Stone Center; other details remain pending.

Here is an overview of the 2007-2008 Southern Illinois Chamber Music Society season. Note that concerts set for the Sesser Opera House begin at 8 p.m. Concerts at the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship on Parrish Lane begin at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $3 for students. Season ticket purchase options follow the schedule.

The Spanish Guitar: Sept. 22, Sesser Opera House, Sept. 23, Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship

SIUC Professor Joseph Breznikar, who directs the classical guitar program, guest stars in the opening concert with SIUC string faculty and students. Breznikar's prior performance venues include the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the White House. His discography includes his own compositions as well as a broad repertoire of classical guitar music. Selections for this concert include a guitar quintet from Italian composer Luigi Boccherini and the Serenata for String Quartet from Opus 87 from the 20th century Spanish composer Joaquin Turina.

Open House and Tribute for Jack Hayward: Oct. 14, SIUC Stone Center, 2-5 p.m.

This tribute honors chamber music society founder Jack Hayward for his years of devotion and vision in promoting chamber music in Southern Illinois. Details on the open house are under development.

Double Cello: Dec. 2, Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship

Klaus Heitz, a native of Switzerland, headlines a performance of Schubert and Arensky. Heitz studied cello with James Whitehead, and then studied with André Navarra at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris. He was the principal cellist of the Lucerne Festival String Players and for the Cologne Broadcast Symphony Orchestra. His solo performances include festivals in Athens, Luzern, Montreux, Salzburg and Spoleto. His teaching experience includes the Conservatoire national Supérieur de Musique in Paris and the School of Music and Theatre in Hanover, Germany. The chamber group plays a cello quintet from Opus 163 from Schubert and Arensky's Quartet No. 2 from Opus 35 for violin, viola and two cellos.

Soirée Française: Feb. 10, Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship

SIUC's Junghwa Lee on piano guest stars with fellow SIUC music faculty Eric Mandat on clarinet, Michael Barta on violin and Eric Lentz on cello, to perform a quartet from Canat de Chizy and a trio by Ravel. All four of the featured faculty members are seasoned musicians with performances given around the world. Lee joined SIUC in 2005 after earning her musical arts doctoral degree in piano performance and literature from the Eastman School of Music, where she received the Performer's Certificate, the Max Landow Memorial Scholarship and an Excellence in Accompanying Award. Mandat is also an Eastman School alum. In 1999, he was named SIUC Outstanding Scholar. In addition to his work with the chamber society and solo and compositional work, Mandat belongs to the Tone Road Ramblers, the Transatlantic Trio and the Chicago Symphony's contemporary chamber music series, MusicNow. Barta, who headlines the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra season opener, has been with SIUC since 1985. He studied music in Hungary and Belgium, has won awards and has performance and recording credits all over Europe and the United States. Lentz teaches cello, chamber music, harmony and counterpoint at SIUC. Performance credits for Lentz include Alabama, Huntsville and Charleston Symphonies, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto Festival USA, the Brevard Music Center and the Missouri Symphony Summer Festival, where he is assistant principal cello. Lentz is also active with early music performances, including a baroque cello performance with the Cleveland Camerata and the Case Western Reserve Viol Consort on viola da gamba. He is a founding member of Neoteric, a new music ensemble.

Hungarian Masters: April 12, Sesser Opera House, April 13, Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship

This performance sees internationally acclaimed guests on both strings and piano. The Cavani String Quartet, internationally renowned for their performances and for their role with the string program at the Cleveland Institute of Music, may be best known in Carbondale as the group of musicians who brought violin instruction to Thomas School. Adam Fellegi, Hungarian-born piano virtuoso and also no stranger to Carbondale as a past feature performer of the Southern Illinois Music Festival, is known for his renditions of Kodaly and Medtner, highlight this performance of a Bartók string quartet and a Dohnány piano quartet.

Season tickets are $45 for general admission and $9 for students. The Sesser Opera House performances are not included in the season ticket price. Call the School of Music at 618/453-2870 for season tickets. Individuals, businesses and corporations may sponsor the Southern Illinois Chamber Music Society and the scholarships it maintains through the Allegro Group. Sponsorships begin at $50. Call the School of Music for more information.