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Chicago String Ensemble

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The tremulous strains of the mandolin, a favorite Mediterranean folk instrument, are familiar to composer Robert Lombardo, who grew up in a Sicilian household. A while back the Roosevelt University professor met up with Dimitris Marinos, the Greek emigre who's made a name for himself in this country and Europe as a mandolin virtuoso. Impressed with Marinos's pyrotechnics, Lombardo wrote a number of pieces with his skills in mind. The latest is Orpheus and the Maenads, a concerto for mandolin and orchestra commissioned by WNIB that will be premiered at this weekend's Chicago String Ensemble concerts. Inspired by a poem Lombardo's wife wrote, based on an episode from the Orpheus legend in which the Maenads kill Orpheus, and drawing parallels between the mandolin and Orpheus's lyre, the 17-minute work is lyrical yet dark and broody, exploiting the chromatic and melodious possibilities of the instrument. Another work written specifically for the CSE and receiving its first performance will be Sound Portraits by the Akron-based David Bernstein, who studied with the conservative-minded Carlisle Floyd. The two-movement work traverses a variety of moods and makes occasional references to a Protestant hymn. The remainder of the program consists of Vivaldi's Mandolin Concerto in C, Dido's lament from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas in an orchestration by Leopold Stokowski, and Stravinsky's inventive ballet score Apollo Musagetes (the 1928 version). The featured soloists are cellist Julie Zumsteg and violinist David Katz; Alan Heatherington presides at the podium. Friday, 8 PM, Saint Pauls United Church of Christ, 2335 N. Orchard. Saturday, 8 PM, First United Methodist Church, 1630 Hinman, Evanston. 332-0567.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bill First.

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