Silver Linings Players Review – Music and Art

My husband and I were treated to an unusual event on the afternoon of December 7th, 2014.  This was a Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance at Fullerton Hall, the Art Institute of Chicago.  It was intriguing to have a “two fer”, and in fact, during one number, it was a “three fer” when J’nai Bridges of the Lyric Opera of Chicago added her Mezzo-Soprano voice to the clarinet, violin, cell and piano in Matthew Aucoin’s Celan Songs.


Fullerton Hall is the perfect venue for chamber music and the chance to combine paintings with music.  The painting by James Ensor, The Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1887 was the centerpiece of the afternoons performance and gallery walk.


Entering Fullerton Hall, we noted how beautiful it is with a stained glass ceiling, excellent sight lines, and lovely arches.  Though it holds a large audience, it was intimate. 


David Stark, Museum Education, The Art Institute of Chicago began the afternoon with a slide show that introduced the works of James Ensor. The theme of art and music was “Spiritual Redemption”.  The Art Institutes website offers, “In the 1880s, the Belgian artist James Ensor created a monumental drawing—almost six feet tall and composed of 51 separate sheets of paper—that until this year has not been seen outside Belgium since the 1950s. Revelatory, disturbing, wildly imaginative, and singularly compelling, The Temptation of Saint Anthony is the centerpiece of this major exhibition that explores the making and meaning of this landmark work and the visionary talent of one of history’s most idiosyncratic artists.”


This was the first of 5-concerts of the CSO Chamber Music series at the Art Institute of Chicago.



Chamber Music Series at The Art Institute of Chicago


Baird Dodge Violin

Kozue Funakoshi Violin

Gina DiBello Violin

Danny Lai Viola

Daniel Katz Cello

Gary Stucka Cello

Robert Kassinger Bass

John Bruce Yeh Clarinet

J’nai Bridges Mezzo-soprano

Matthew Aucoin Piano, Conductor

Daniel Schlosberg Piano


 This was the first of five concerts in the CSO Chamber Music Series at the Art Institute of Chicago.


There were two works each by James Matheson and Matthew Ausoin and one piece by John Adams.  All of these composers are highly regarded and innovative.  Works presented revealed unusual blends of instruments and a blend of sounds that was unique in my experience.  Words in the form of poetry shown on a screen were integral to the performance. 


Although the entire program was praiseworthy, the Celan Songs for Mezzo-soprano, Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano incorporating Paul Celan’s poetry shown in English projection while sung in German by J’nai Bridges Mezzo-soprano provided input on many levels. In John Adam’s work, Shaker Loops for String Septet, strings achieved sounds that were unique in my experience In addition, watching Matthew Acoin conducting was fascinating, as he seemed almost to be dancing with Plies and Relives.



Following this performance, David Stark led a gallery tour to further explore the James Ensor Exhibition. 


There are  four more programs in this series.They are available for purchase via or 312.294.3000. These programs are very special.


The remaining 4 programs take place as follows:

January 25 – Strokes of Genius

March 22 – The Golden Age on the Periphery

May 24- French Reveries & Passions (ties to our CSO French Festival programs curated by Esa-Pekka Salonen)

June 14 – Russian Soul


Art Institute website

CSO website


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