Orion Ensemble Expanding Janet's Stage Music Education Initiative

Katie Pirtle, Orion Ensemble executive director, conducts a masterclass as part of Orion's Janet's Stage educational initiative (photo courtesy of The Orion Ensemble).

Following a successful debut year, acclaimed chamber music group Orion Ensemble is expanding its educational initiative, "Janet's Stage," adding Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn to its existing partnerships with high schools in Batavia and Geneva.  

Orion's first session at Glenbard West, involving a masterclass/performance for two classes, took place Monday, October 27. Sessions at Batavia and Geneva High Schools will follow on November 10.   Janet's Stage is a one-of-a-kind collaboration with the orchestra departments at each partner school, with the Orion musicians-clarinetist and executive director Kathy Pirtle, violinist Florentina Ramniceanu, pianist Diana Schmück and cellist Judy Stone-providing multifaceted, year-long student support. The program offers practical, individualized learning through master classes and chamber music coaching, performances for students and parents at each school, invitations to attend Orion concerts and the all-too-important opportunity for student ensembles to perform on the Orion concert stage.  

Said Geneva's orchestra director Julie Lawrence of the Orion Ensembe musicians, "They're really good teachers, they have really great ideas, and they're expanding horizons."   Orion has created Janet's Stage to celebrate the life, special leadership and service of longtime former Board Chair Janet Safanda, who passed away in 2012. "This multi-year high-impact program pays tribute to the ways Janet's special signature has been written on the ensemble's development and vision," noted Pirtle. "We are grateful for the significant funding from individual donors in the Fox Valley and are hoping to secure more funding from the community at large to continue and expand this initiative."  

Orion's 22nd season, A Taste of Chicago, A World of Romance, focuses on a distinct Chicago composer for each of four concert programs; Orion performs every program at three venues including Geneva, downtown Chicago and Evanston. The season began in late September with "Stepping Out," featuring work by Jim Gailloreto, and continues with "Rhapsody" in November and December, spotlighting music by Sebastian Huydts; "Jubilation" in March, showcasing work by Stacy Garrop; and "Celebration" in May, highlighting work by Marc Mellits.

For information about Orion Ensemble’s Janet’s Stages initiative or its 22nd concert season, visit orionensemble.org.