New North Shore Chamber Orchestra keeping it positive for next concert
Pianist Susan Merdinger of Highland Park will perform with the New North Shore Chamber Orchestra March 17.
The New North Shore
3:30 p.m. Sunday, March 17
Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Ave., Evanston
$15, children 18 and under are free
Updated: March 13, 2013 10:54AM
The St. Patrick’s Day concert by the New North Shore Chamber Orchestra doesn’t include a single Irish composer, but the rich selection of music is sure to satisfy audiences of all ethnic heritages.
Under the baton of Maestro Anatol Lysenka, the 50-piece ensemble will play Von Weber’s Oberon Overture, Wagner’s Prelude to “Die Meistersinger,” “Light Cavalry Overture” by Johann Strauss, Jr., “Radetzky March” by Johann Strauss, Sr. and the intermezzo from “La Boda de Luis Alonso” by Spanish composer Geronimo Gimenez.
The centerpiece of the concert will be the performance of Piano Concerto No. 1 by Franz Liszt award-winning and Steinway artist Susan Merdinger of Highland Park.
Locally Merdinger has performed live on WFMT, at Bennett Gordon Hall at Ravinia, Preston Bradley Hall in the Chicago Cultural Center, and on numerous public radio stations as well as on BBC Television and at her alma mater Yale University.
Merdinger has also played with the Highland Park Strings. At the invitation of Charles Pikler, principal violist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, she played on the Chicago Symphony’s chamber series at the Art Institute of Chicago last year. “I’ve been invited to play again this year,” she said, “an all Schubert program on May 19.”
She is particularly pleased about playing Liszt with the New North Suburban Chamber Orchestra. “’I haven’t performed it in 13 years,” she said. “I am very excited about doing it again.”
“Our program includes so many positive works,” said Lysenka, who after six years as summer conductor of the orchestra, was appointed principal conductor in 2010.
Lysenka hails from Belarus. He received a master’s degree in conducting at the Belarusian Conservatory of Music and received a second master’s in opera and symphony conducting from the Moscow State Conservatory.
He came to the United States in 2000 and settled in Skokie. In connection with American Music Festivals, he has conducted the Lincolnwood Chamber Orchestra and the short-lived Glenview Symphony. In 2003 he arranged Shostakovich’s Prelude and Fugue No. 24 for Glenview, which was later played by the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra. In 2005 Lysenka founded the Tutti Chamber Orchestra in Chicago.
He was among those working with Harvey Treger, founder of the North Shore Chamber Orchestra, to invigorate the ensemble after more than a quarter century of affiliation with Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music.
“We did a lot of good things with Northwestern,” said Treger. “We provided a great opportunity for more than 80 student conductors and soloists in college and graduate school to perform with a community orchestra.”
The trade-off for the non-professional volunteer musicians in the chamber orchestra was the use of NU’s vast library of music scores and the opportunity to perform in Alice Millar Chapel on the university campus.
In 2010 the orchestra became independent and now plays in the Unitarian Church of Evanston. It uses music from the Petucci Library, a virtual library based in Canada that provides open access to music scores in the public domain. “The composer has to be dead for 75 years,” said Treger.
“We started out rehearsing in Nichols Middle School in Evanston in 1980. There have have been so many changes that we decided call ourselves the New North Shore Chamber Orchestra,” Treger declared with obvious pride.
Maestro Lysenka has enjoyed putting the program together. “The idea is to take people away from their problems and let them listen to an enjoyable concert.”