Spring Fever

Sunday, June 4, 2017 at 3pm


Dan Visconti Ramshackle Songs for String Quartet (2009)
Gaspar Cassadó Trio for Piano, Violin, and Cello
Brahms String Quartet in C Minor, Op. 51 No. 1
Concert information

Meet the outstanding Chicago composer Dan Visconti as he introduces his special vision of Americana, Ramshackle Songs, performed by the Kontras Quartet. Visconti sets the stage in this work for a bittersweet journey of nostalgia, blending melodic fragments, playful effects and dizzying rhythmic intricacies. The powerful and virtuosic Piano Trio by the Spanish composer and cellist Gaspar Cassadó follows. Brahm’s magnificent C Minor String Quartet, a masterwork of great drama and beauty, draws to an end our 20th Year Celebration.

Concert sponsored in part by the Northern Trust Bank.


Adult - $20
Senior - $16
Student - $8


The Kontras Quartet
Dmitri Pogorelov, violin | Francois Henkins, violin
Ben Weber, viola | Jean Hatmaker, cello

with Carol Honigberg, piano
and Dan Visconti, composer

The Kontras Quartet

Admired for their "superlative artistry" (CVNC Arts Journal), the Kontras Quartet has established an international following for their vibrant and nuanced performances. The "superb Chicago-based ensemble" (Gramophone Magazine) has been described as "a tightly crafted and beautiful instrument" (CVNC Arts Journal) and has been lauded for their "crisp precision" (Palm Beach Daily News) and "enjoyable musical personality" (Fanfare Magazine). Kontras means contrasts in the Afrikaans language - fitting for a string ensemble whose colorful repertoire spans centuries, genres, and continents.

The Kontras Quartet records for MSR Classics and recently released two critically acclaimed albums. The first, Origins, features new and lesser-known works from the quartet's home countries, including the world premiere recording of Dan Visconti's Ramshackle Songs. The recording was commended by Gramophone Magazine for the quartet's "scrupulous shading and control". The second, Lucid Dreamer, features a septet that Kontras commissioned in 2013 with a generous Chamber Music America-awarded grant. The work treads the line between classical music and American folk and invigorates Kontras' ongoing collaboration with the esteemed Kruger Brothers trio.

The Kontras Quartet's recent and upcoming engagements include international tours of South Africa and Switzerland; broadcasts on classical radio stations nationwide (including Performance Today and a 3-month residency with Chicago's WFMT 98.7 fm); performances at Chicago's Symphony Center and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.; television appearances on NBC and PBS; and sold out concerts in Telluride, Salt Lake City, Raleigh and Arizona.

Kontras enjoys educational work of all kinds, and has been the Professional Quartet in Residence at Western Michigan University for three years. The group has also continued its work in the Chicago Public Schools with the support of a grant from the Boeing Company. Outside of the Chicago area, Kontras has made a significant educational impact in North Carolina, bringing over 200 innovative and interactive outreach programs to 40,000 students.

Formed while the group's members were string principals in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Kontras Quartet began pursuing a professional career in 2009. Kontras enjoyed immediate recognition, holding their own against seasoned string quartets from around the country to win a four-year chamber music residency with the Western Piedmont Symphony in North Carolina, a full-time position established through Chamber Music America's Residency Partnership Program. The quartet has received continued training with the Vermeer Quartet and Juilliard String Quartet.

Their website can be found at www.kontrasquartet.com.

Dmitri Pogorelov, violin

Critically acclaimed violinist Dmitri Pogorelov has won prestigious chamber music competitions in his native Russia at an early age, which led to numerous appearances in chamber music recitals and solo performances with orchestras in the USA, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, and Russia. Dmitri has appeared in chamber music concerts with principal players of Chicago, Houston, Saint Louis and Seattle Symphonies, Cleveland, Minnesota, and Concertgebouw Orchestras, San Francisco, Chicago Lyric, and Frankfurt State Opera orchestras. As part of Dmitri’s interest in contemporary chamber music, he has recently recorded works by Eric Ewazen, Gunther Schuller, and Yehudi Wyner for Albany Records. A seasoned orchestral performer, Dmitri has worked under Pierre Boulez, Bernard Haitink, Sir Mark Elder, and Esa-Pekka Salonen as concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony’s Civic Orchestra. Dmitri is currently a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music under the tutelage of Gerardo Ribeiro. Dmitri Pogorelov plays the “Radetzky” David Tecchler violin ca. 1720, on loan to him through the generosity of an anonymous donor.

Francois Henkins, violin

Having grown up in a highly musical family, violinist Francois Henkins distinguished himself at an early age by winning national chamber music and solo competitions in his native South Africa, and performing as guest soloist with the Johannesburg and Free State Symphonies. He came to the USA with a full scholarship to the Interlochen Arts Academy, and continued his studies under Chicago Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Robert Chen, Los Angeles Philharmonic associate concertmaster Nathan Cole, and Renata Artman Knific. Francois has since traveled the world to appear at chamber music festivals such as the Musicorda Chamber Music Festival; the Stellenbosch National Chamber Music Competition, at which he was awarded a prize for his notable performance; and the Cleveland Orchestra's Kent/Blossom Music Festival, where he was awarded the Josef Gingold Award for his distinguished performance in chamber music. An experienced orchestral performer, Francois has worked under renowned conductors such as Bernard Haitink and Pierre Boulez in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Chicago Sinfonietta, and the Johannesburg Philharmonic. Francois has a deep love of teaching and is currently on the faculty at Elmhurst College, Western Michigan University, and Harper College.

Benjamin Weber, viola

Violist Benjamin Weber is currently Principal Viola with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and has performed with many of the orchestras around the Chicago area. He has performed recently with Barbra Streisand, Todd Rundgren, and Howard Levy. An avid chamber musician, he was a founding member of Crossing Borders Music and has often appeared with the ACM Palomar Ensemble as a guest. As a string educator, he is on the faculty at the Merit School of Music and has led guest clinics at high schools around the Chicago area. He received a Bachelor’s in Music Education from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2004 studying Violin and Viola with Michael Hining, and in 2008 he received a Master’s degree in Viola Performance from the Eastman School of Music where he studied with John Graham and Melissa Matson. He and his wife are thrilled to introduce their daughter Mara, born in October 2015.

Jean Hatmaker, cello

Jean Hatmaker is a founding member of the Kontras Quartet, with whom she has performed in chamber series all across the East and Midwest, as well as live performances on NBC and public radio. KQ has a rich history of interdisciplinary collaboration, often collaborating with dancers, visual artists, and musicians of other genres. They tour frequently with nationally-acclaimed bluegrass trio the Kruger Brothers, and have performed together for PBS, Telluride, MerleFest, IBMA, and the Late Show with David Letterman. KQ recently released their first two commercial albums: their first commissioned work, Lucid Dreamer, with the Kruger Brothers, on Double Time Records; and Origins, an album comprised of music from the founding members’ home countries, on MSR Records.

Hatmaker is a passionate teacher, holding faculty positions at Lake Forest College and Elmhurst College, where she also founded the Elmhurst College Cello Choir. With Kontras Quartet, she is in-residence at Western Michigan University as a chamber ensemble coach and performance lecturer. She has been a board member of the Chicago Cello Society since 2014, and currently serves as President. She is also an amateur ballerina, and has studied and performed at Indiana University, the NewArt School of Ballet, and the Joffrey Academy of Chicago. Combining her passions for music and dance, Hatmaker has arranged and performed original ballet productions of The Nutcracker and Alice In Wonderland, collaborations between the NewArt School of Ballet and Kontras Quartet.

Hatmaker has an extensive background of orchestral playing, having been principal cellist of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Western Piedmont Symphony, and other regional orchestras throughout the Midwest. She received both a Bachelor (with High Distinction) and Master of Music degrees in Cello Performance from Indiana University, in the studios of Helga Winold and Janos Starker. She plays on a French cello made by Marc Laberte ca. 1922, and uses a Hill bow.

Carol Honigberg, piano
artistic director of the Pilgrim Chamber Players

Carol Honigberg has appeared as soloist and as chamber musician throughout the United States and Europe. Recent performances with orchestra include Haydn’s Concerto for Violin, Piano, and Strings, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 2, and the Two-Piano Concerto by Poulenc. She gave her New York recital debut in Alice Tully Hall of Lincoln Center. She has appeared as soloist with the Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago and appears regularly on programs live on radio WFMT. She has recently participated in summer festivals in Ceret, France, and Sun Valley, Idaho, has performed on the Chopin Festival in Washington, DC, and participated in the Chamber Music series from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. She recently gave a duo recital with violinist Judith Aller at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art which was broadcast live on radio.

Carol Honigberg has recorded the Barber Piano Concerto and Piano Sonata for Musical Heritage Society, the Rhapsody in Blue in the solo piano version for Pavane Records in Belgium, the Beethoven Sonatas and Variations for cello and piano, and Chopin’s music for cello and piano with cellist Steven Honigberg on the Albany label. She also performs on the series “Darkness & Light,” music from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. She recently recorded for Albany Records a selection of chamber music by Donald Draganski for winds and piano, performed by the Pilgrim Chamber Players, of which she is Artistic Director.

She is a former faculty member of Roosevelt University in Chicago and presently teaches at the Music Institute of Chicago, Lake Forest Campus. She received her Masters of Music degree from Northwestern University. Her teachers have included Rudolph Ganz and Gui Mombeaerts. She also studied with Marguerite Long in France.

Carol Honigberg received the 2009 City of Highland Park Mayor's Award for the Arts for her role as Artistic Director of the Pilgrim Chamber Players.

Dan Visconti, composer

Active as a composer, concert curator, and writer on music, Dan Visconti is updating the role of the classical musician for the 21st century as he creates new projects in collaboration with the community. For his ongoing initiatives to address social issues through music by reimagining the arts as a form of cultural and civic service, Visconti was awarded a 2014 TED Fellowship and delivered a TED talk at the conference’s 30th anniversary.

Visconti’s musical compositions are rooted in the improvisational energy and maverick spirit of rock, folk music, and other vernacular performance traditions – elements that tend to collide in unexpected ways with Visconti’s classical training, resulting in a growing body of works the Plain Dealer describes as “both mature and youthful, bristling with exhilarating musical ideas and a powerfully crafted lyricism.”

Commission credits include works written for the Kronos Quartet, eighth blackbird, Opera Philadelphia, Beth Morrison Projects, the Jack Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, Da Capo Chamber Players, percussionist Shane Shanahan, Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic, guitarist Jason Vieaux of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project, soprano Lucy Shelton, and many others. His music has been performed at venues including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Los Angeles’s Disney Hall, London Barbican Theatre and Sydney Opera House. He has also held composer residencies including those with the California Symphony, Arkansas Symphony and Metropolitan Opera.

Visconti’s music has been recognized with the prestigious American Rome Prize, Berlin Prize, and awards from the Koussevitzky Foundation at the Library of Congress, Fromm Foundation. Naumburg Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post and has recently had speaking engagements at the Clinton School for Public Service, the National Archive, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Visconti currently serves as Director of Artistic Programming at Chicago’s Fifth House Ensemble and works with young musicians at the ensemble’s annual Fresh Inc Festival on cultivating musical careers in line with their own unique vision and values.

His website can be found at www.danvisconti.com.