Chicago Philharmonic Chamber Players
At the City Winery Chicago for February 19, 2017 Concert
The Chicago Philharmonic Chamber Players (cp2) return to The City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph in the West Loop for the second in a three-part concert series at noon on February 19, 2017. The cp2 series allows Chicago Philharmonic musicians to explore fresh programming that breaks the boundaries of traditional classical concerts. This concert, entitled “Sounds of Change: Music of the 60’s and 70’s”, features a wide range of music in a uniquely casual brunch setting.
James Earl Jones II, vocalist
Carmen Kassinger, violin
Lisa Fako, violin
Monica Reilly, viola
Margaret Daly, cello
With the music of artists ranging from Jimi Hendrix to Dimitri Shostakovich, from Marvin Gaye to John Lennon, the transforming world spread its message of peace and love through the music of the times. Artists protested against war and tyranny and shattered the mold of established forms. Rock music provided the anthems for a generation, and the youth culture reveled in their newfound freedom of expression.
Join The Chicago Philharmonic Chamber Players on an uplifting and entertaining journey in their ode to this important and invigorating era!
This reviewer had the opportunity to share brunch with the “4SPIEL” ensemble, Carmen Kassinger, violin; Lisa Fako, violin; Monica Reilly, viola, Margaret Daly, cello; and vocalist James Earl Jones II, interview them and get a preview of the upcoming concert. These 5 collectively have a universe of expert training, experience, credits and starpower under their belts. I am convinced they will reshape your ideas about chamber music and blow the roof off The City Winery.
I entered a beautiful home on a centrally located street in Chicago. It was a sanctuary for a family of musicians- and their musical colleagues. The women of “4SPIEL” were so comfortable together- they’ve rehearsed and played together for years, and shared an ongoing dialogue about their work- that they finished each other’s sentences, developed each other’s thoughts, interpreted for each other. “We share a brain”, said Fako. “We’ve been playing together in different incarnations for 20 years- as “4SPIEL” for about 3 years”, noted Kassinger, adding, “We stand around and throw out ideas until we come up with a concept for a concert; later, with the instruments, we squabble about how best to play the music”.
Asked about the upcoming concert, Reilly mentioned "We’ve figured out a way to recreate music we all love-it’s a different sound than people are used to hearing from chamber musicians, taken from the non-traditional repertoire, and we hired professionals to arrange the pieces". The addition of Jones II, a classically trained performer, was an easy choice according to Daly, “He’s spectacular and soulful, an actor who has also veered into musical theater.". She added "The world is changing, and we needed a healing program. The idea began last September with all of the buzz around the election, and now that concept has become an imperative."
The camaraderie was rare enough, but nothing could have prepared me for the quality of the mini-concert I was privileged to hear after vocalist James Earl Jones II, a powerhouse baritone, arrived. Jones II far too modestly confided, “I contribute a voice”, then went on to say, “This quartet is amazing; I add a layer on top of their layers that creates a special way of relating; it’s exciting to convey emotions with words. Here we have beautiful orchestral pieces and the vocalizing layer takes the audience elsewhere.”
This was long-familiar music reinterpreted in a sexy and symphonic fashion. It's been reframed with less stridency, subtler complexity, and sung in a voice so pure, so deep it “blew your mind”. Perhaps the most enthralling aspect was how the different musical genres, era to era, hook up. The repertoire spans classical, rhythm and blues, pop, jazz, and even includes musical theater. The arrangements are fresh, the great standards instantly recognizable but with new inflections.
As you listen to the program in this hip and comfortable setting on Sunday, you will be taken on a journey, the theme of which will become obvious. You will be reached, you will be touched, and you will become engaged.
For more information on this concert and all the great programs of The Chicago Philharmonic, go to the ChicagoPhilharmonic website
For information and tickets to “Sounds of Change”, go to the City Winery website
Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy of The Chicago Philaharmonic Organization
“Sounds of Change” concert February 19, 2017, at The City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph
Selections may include:
Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On”
Paul Desmond “Take Five”
Dave Brubeck “Blue Rondo à la Turk”
Stephen Sondheim Selections from “Company” and “Follies”
Jimmy Hendrix “Purple Haze”
Dmitri Shostakovich “String Quartet No. 3” (Scherzo)
Plus music by John Lennon, Leonard Bernstein, Sister Sledge & more!
Doors open at 11:00 A.M., and brunch will be available for purchase before and during the performance. Casual attire is encouraged. Approximate run time: 1 hour