2010–11 Chicago classical season in review

Anaphora, Pacifica Quartet, Chicago a cappella, Chicago Opera Theater and Third Coast Percussion relive the highs and lows of their 2010–11 seasons.
Anaphora ensemble
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Sarah J. Ritch cofounder and composer, Anaphora Ensemble
The highlight of your season?

For the entire group, I would say performing live on WFMT as part of PianoForte’s Salon Series. The program highlighted two of the founding performers with Aurelien [Pederzoli, violin] playing one of his favorite Mozart sonatas and Cory [Tiffin, clarinet] performing Debussy’s piano reduction of his “Première Rhapsodie” for clarinet and orchestra.
Any regrets?

I have been interested in manipulating as much of the audience’s experience as possible, creating an intentional atmosphere that links the elements of space, light, scent and acoustics. The first of these experiments was with “Sonorous Shades: Cool Tones” in December. A combination of bad weather, electronics difficulties and my ambitions being slightly overwhelmed by the enormity of the space created an event that I felt didn’t quite hit the mark.

David Skidmore performer and composer, Third Coast Percussion
The highlight of your season?

Performing John Cage’s three Constructions at Gottlieb Hall. Cage was one of the great composers of the 20th century, and without his early music for percussion, the idea of a percussion ensemble quite literally wouldn’t exist. Look for our album of Cage’s percussion music next season.
Any regrets?

This season we premiered an amazing new piece of music by composer David T. Little on an evening that conflicted with the CSO’s new-music series, MusicNOW. There is so much great music happening in Chicago, it can be hard to avoid these conflicts.

Sibbi Bernhardsson and Masumi Rostad Pacifica Quartet
The highlight of your season?

Tough to choose. Our Shostakovich cycles in Chicago, New York and Urbana. We are drawn to the great quartet cycles because we get immersed in the mind of a composer.
Any regrets?

We’d play more music! Even though we play 90 or so concerts a year, there is a still lot of fantastic music out there. Not just the classics, but also interesting new composers. With performing, rehearsing, teaching and our personal lives, we can only do so much. Know how we could arrange a couple of extra months in the year?

Brian Dickie general director, Chicago Opera Theater
The highlight of your season?

The immense impact that Medea, a virtually unknown work by Charpentier, had on our audience. I was taken aback by the enthusiastic welcome for the first-ever production in Chicago of a French baroque opera.
Any regrets?

It is a shame that we did not have full houses for these splendid productions. We should have spent more money on marketing this wonderful work.

Jonathan Miller founder and artistic director, Chicago a cappella
The highlight of your season?

Our “Chicago, Chicago” concert, which traced the history of the city. It went from French voyageur music through early blues/gospel to the late 1960s, along with narration from the stage. Now we’re pursuing follow-up performances.
Any regrets?

We did our first-ever program with piano, “The Red Carpet of Sound.”
We worried some that people would find it off-brand. Instead they embraced it. Lesson: People don’t pigeonhole you as long as the music you make is convincing.

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