September 18, 2008

Symphony orchestra’s season opens Sept. 23

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The 2008-2009 Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra season opens Tuesday, Sept. 23, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Shryock Auditorium with special performances from School of Music faculty.

Michael Barta on violin and Meng-Chun Chi on viola perform Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra. The program includes J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 and Franz Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

Barta is a professor of violin and chamber music at SIUC. He also serves as assistant concertmaster of the Illinois Symphony and the Illinois Chamber Orchestra, both in Springfield. Recently, he has served as summer faculty at Central Catalonia Music Academy and Festival in Spain, the Illinois Wesleyan University Summer Chamber Music Camp, and the Pyrenees Music Festival in Spain. Barta was First Violinist of the Kodály String Quartet. He has recordings with such companies as PBS, Serenus, Westdeutsche Rundfunk, Saarländische Rundfunk, Scottish BBC, Hungaroton, Radio France and more. He was a finalist at the prestigious Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow.

Chi is assistant professor of viola at SIUC. She is also a faculty member of the Vermont Youth Orchestra’s Reveille! Music Festival. As a performer, Chi is a frequent guest at music festivals, from the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar, the Young Artist Quartet Program at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute and more. Chi also holds membership with the Illinois Symphony and the Paducah Symphony Orchestra as well as the Southern Illinois Chamber Music Society. She has performed with the Cavani String Quartet and with Hungarian pianist Adam Fellegi, American violinist Misha Rosenker and others.

Other performances in the symphony season include the traditional Halloween Pops on Oct. 31, A Children’s Nutcracker on Dec. 13-14, and a special concert to highlight the 200th anniversary of national hero Abraham Lincoln’s birth, on Feb. 13, 2009. Watch for details in future releases.

The Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra has been part of the cultural landscape of Southern Illinois for more than 100 years. At present, Edward Benyas leads the orchestra. Recent accomplishments include the Community Volunteer Orchestra of the Year Award, given to SISO in 2001 by the Illinois Council of Orchestras, and Benyas receiving the Conductor of the Year Award in the Small Orchestra category in 2005 from the Illinois Council of Orchestras.

Tickets are $20 for general admission, $6 for students of all ages. Tickets are available in advance at the SIU Arena or Student Center ticket offices or at Shryock Auditorium the day of the performance. Purchase season tickets or individual tickets online at