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Chicago Ensemble 

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George Crumb's Powerful Vox Balaenae ("Voice of the Whale"), an unusual work inspired by the singing of the humpback whale, traces the evolution of the giant mammal--and mankind itself--through various geological ages. The players are required to wear black masks, and the setting is bathed in blue light. Among the work's more interesting features are the flutist's singing into the instrument while playing it, which startlingly imitates the haunting sound of the humpbacks, and Crumbs atonal parody of Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra. Also on the program is Beethoven's famous Archduke Trio, one of his most unpredictable and avant-garde works, full of unusual contrasts and unexpected turns, along with music of Handel and Villa-Lobos. Wednesday, 8 PM, Winnetka Women's Club, 485 Maple, Winnetka; 664-1219.

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