Rembrandt Chamber Musicians "Music of the Masters Concert" in Evanston Review - Featuring High School Chamber Music Competition Winners

Rembrandt Chamber Musicians, founded in the Chicago area in 1990, is on a mission to promote and perpetuate chamber music by expressing it as a personally accessible, living art form, and they succeeded with their April 2, 2017 afternoon program, Music of the Masters at the Nichols Concert Hall located at 1490 Chicago Ave, Evanston. The program enthralled the sizable audience with its classic selections by Mozart, Brahms, and Schubert, and a 20th Century Bartok work energetically performed by The Vieira Quartet, winners of Rembrandt Chamber Musicians’ 22nd Annual High School Competition.The program will be repeated Monday, April 3, 2017 at St. James Cathedral, Chicago at 7:30 p.m. when the second place high school competition winners, the Cerulean Quartet, shall take their turn performing Ravel's String Quartet in F Major.

Nichols Concert Hall, Evanston

The program began with a lighthearted performance of Mozart’s Oboe Quartet in F Major, 1781, K. 370 featuring the intricate oboe aria performed by Robert Morgan with John Macfarlane paying violin, Carol Cook playing viola, and Calum Cook on the cello.


Robert Morgan, John Macfarlane, Carol Cook, Calum Cook

Next, pianist Jennie Yu joined Carol Cook, viola; and Calum Cook, cello; for Brahms’ Trio in A Minor, 1891, op. 114 for clarinet, cello and piano. We learned from Carol Cook that the viola is often substituted for clarinet, the two instruments having a similar wide range, Ms. Cook’s performance displayed her viola’s wide range. This piece was composed by Johannes Brahms after he had resolved to retire in 1890. One can envision Brahms going over the idea of retirement in his mind as the piece goes from the initial somber, then seeking, first two movements, to the more dance inspired third movement, to the grand ending emphasizing more cello accompanied by Ms. Yu’s fingers flying gracefully over the keyboard.


Carol Cook, Calum Cook and Jeannie Yu

Following intermission, the audience was treated to Bela Bartok’s short, but powerful String Quartet No. 4, 1928, performed splendidly by The Vieira Quartet, with its striking, dramatic, slightly discordant and cacophonous, almost mathematical language. It was easy to see how quartet members, Steven Song, viola; Karisa Chiu, violin; Maya Anjali Buchanan, violin; and Nathan Mo, cello; won the contest with their energy and sheer delight in playing. It even seemed at one point that bow strings were coming undone with the energy brought to the piece.

Gail Belytschko, Rembrandt Chamber Muscians Board of Directors member, commented that, "The first time I heard competition winners, I expected a typical high school level performance, but I was blown away - they were strikingly good."   The 2017 winners did not disappoint.


Karisa Chiu, Maya Vuchanan, Steven Song and Nathan Mo



Some in the audience later commented at the post-concert reception that the draw and their greatest delight came from Franz Schubert’s Piano Quintet in A Major, 1919, D. 667, also known as The Trout for its fourth movement variations on the composer’s earlier work, Lied “Die Forelle,” a folk song for voice and piano based on the 1783 poem “Die Forelle” by Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart. The poem is about a trout that has been caught by a fisherman. The John Macfarlane’s violin and Lawrence Neuman’s viola interwove the melodies effortlessly, and the addition of the double bass to the added depth to the piece. Callum Cook impressively highlighted his cello in the second variation of the fourth movement. Later overheard, an inspired group from the audience resolved to go out for fish for dinner that night.


John Mcfarlane, Lawrence Neuman, Calum Cook, Collins Trier and Jeannie Yu

A reception featuring various wines, cheeses, breads and fruit at Vinic Wine located at 1509 Chicago Ave, Evanston followed the event. Guests grabbed their chance to congratulate the musicians on their admirable performances, ask questions, and relate their experiences with each other.

Reception at Vinic Wines, Evanston, Photo: B. Keer

Further information about the Rembrandt Chamber Musicians and their 2016/2017 Season can be found on their Rembrandt Chamber Musicians website


Photos: Darron McNutt, unless otherwise noted.

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