Chicago String Ensemble | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Chicago String Ensemble 

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Two works by young local talent are being premiered on this Chicago String Ensemble bill, both commissioned for Elizabeth Cifani, the Lyric Opera's principal harpist, who's appearing as a guest soloist here. Paul Seitz, a Racine native based in Madison, has come up with a piece that features the wire-strung Irish harp as solo instrument, supposedly the first classical work to do so since 1792. Seitz, who was drawn to the instrument's bright, bell-like sound says his chamber concerto "may have come out of awareness of tragic civil conflicts around the world"; he took the title, When Touched by Better Angels, from Lincoln's 1861 inaugural speech. The Shanghai-born Fengshi Yang, a University of Chicago PhD who wrote the single-movement Capriccio in July for harp and string orchestra last summer, used as her thematic materials two well-known Chinese folk songs, a quietly expressive one from the north and a lively dance tune from the south. Rounding out the accessible program are Dances for Strings by the African American pioneer Ulysses Kay and Morton Gould's poignant Spirituals for Strings. Alan Heatherington conducts the 22-member ensemble. Friday, 8 PM, St. Pauls United Church of Christ, 2335 N. Orchard. Saturday, 8 PM, Episcopal Church of St. Luke, 939 Hinman, Evanston. Sunday, 3 PM, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 203 S. Kensington, La Grange. 332-0567.


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