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  • Melissa Trier Kirk, viola

Jimmy Lopez Chamber Music Concert Into the Spotlight

Walt Preucil, cello and William Koehler, piano

"...a great way to showcase the many talented members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra. Many congratulations to all for a spectacular concert!"

Mark Riggleman, Director of Education, Lyric Opera of Chicago

On November 18, several of our members took to the stage in a Lyric Unlimited sponsored chamber music concert curated by Bel Canto composer Jimmy Lopez. The program, held at Preston Bradley Hall in the Chicago Cultural Center, was a collage of works by Lopez and of composers whose work had influenced Lopez, notably Bach, Stravinsky and Gerard Grisey.

The hall was filled to capacity! In clarinetist Sue Warner’s words, “The sheer number of people was impressive, but even more so was their genuine enthusiasm for Lyric, the orchestra musicians, chamber music, and contemporary music. I saw familiar “front row” faces from our opera season, as well as new faces. Obviously Lyric hit the mark with attracting new audiences.

Sue was joined by colleagues violinist Heather Wittels and guest pianist Andrea Swan in a trio version of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat. “I’m so glad to understand that Stravinsky influenced Lopez’s compositional style. Now that we are in the thick of Bel Canto rehearsals, I am particularly noticing spiky articulations and meter changes, as well as Lopez’s ability to compose in different styles to suit a particular mood.”

Cellist Walter Preucil was joined by guest pianist William Koehler in one of Jimmy Lopez’s compositions, Of Bells and Broken Shadows for solo cello and piano. Lopez wrote the piece in 2008 for the VI Carlos Prieto International Cello Competition. “It was so good to work one on one with Jimmy Lopez. It gave me a great understanding of his compositional style.”

Also on the program was principal violist Carol Cook performing J. S. Bach’s Fugue from the G minor Sonata, BWV 1001. Violinist Bing Grant was joined by guest pianist Kay Kim to perform Lopez’s lyrical K’asa. Violinist Ann Palen, flutist, Jennie Bouton Schaub, assistant principal cellist, Paul Dwyer and conductor Eric Weimer were joined by guest artists Gene Collerd, clarinet, and Patrick Godon, piano, to perform Gerard Grisey’s Talea, and guest flutist Mary Stolper performed Lopez’s Warped Symmetry.

For me as an audience member, I was deeply impressed by my colleagues who are equally at home in the pit as fabulous orchestral musicians and on the stage as soloists and chamber musicians. Our thanks to Mark Riggleman, Director of Education and Cayenne Harris, Director of Lyric Unlimited for organizing this concert.

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